Let's throw it back to primary school for a minute. You and your best friend have spent all day giggling in the back seat, your teacher gave you a gold star for a project, and your mom came to pick you up. Life seems good, but then — your head feels a little tingly. You start scratching your hair vigorously, wondering what suddenly happened. You go to tell your mom, and lo and behold — you've got a serious case of lice on your head. While we all have nightmarish stories when it comes to head lice, and while the merciless teasing still rings loud in our heads, there's no need to panic, even if there's a dreaded return of lice on your head. There's a few ways to get rid of lice permanently, and ahead, we're letting you in on everything you need to know about treating head lice.
But before we get into it, we must acknowledge that in order to beat your enemy, you need to know your enemy. So what exactly are head lice? Lice are tiny parasitic critters that thrive on human blood — hence the itching. Since they're wingless, they can't fly, and spread through direct head-to-head contact. If you're feeling a little suspicious that you've got head lice, it's probably because you had close contact with a friend, family member, or even a stranger who had lice — or you shared an item, like a hat or a hairbrush with them. The most common way you can get lice to include being in school — so if your child has been itching their head vigorously for no apparent reason, that could be lice, and you might get it too. It could also happen when you sit a little too close to someone or sleep on the same pillow as someone who carries lice.
And you don't need to question your personal hygiene if you have lice either! Even if you're a total cleanliness freak, you're still in danger of getting lice. Now that we've covered what lice is and the ways you can get it, let's figure out the symptoms of getting head lice.
- Symptoms of lice
- How to get rid of lice permanently
- 1. Wet-Comb Your Hair
- 2. Suffocate The Lice
- 3. Use Essential Oils
- 4. OTC Treatments
Symptoms of lice
This is probably the most obvious sign of head lice! Itching in your head usually indicates the presence of lice, especially when there's no other apparent trigger, such as sweat or dandruff. This is because a louse bite triggers an allergic reaction on the scalp, neck, and ears — so if you find yourself scratching those areas, it's time to skim through your head.
2. Ticklish Sensations
Fun fact: Did you know that you can feel the lice crawling over your head? The lice basically grab the base of your hair follicles with their claws so they can feed off your scalp. This gives rise to an annoying, tingling, ticklish sensation that's as gross as it is worrying. Check your scalps, people!
3. Visible Critters
We've all had at least one instance where we've propped ourselves as close to the mirror as possible, and sectioned off the hair on our scalp to dig for lice. And more often than not, we've found these greyish-brown, almost invisible-looking bugs crawling through our hair. If you see any visible critters crawling through your — or your friend's — hair, we hate to break it to you, but it's probably lice. Also, if you see tiny-looking particles which are a similar colour, and don't look like dandruff either, it might be nits! Nits are the egg, or the younger form of lice, and if you don't get rid of them fast, they'll grow up to be full-blown lice.
4. Sores On The Upper Body
Since lice trigger an allergic reaction on your body, you itch them, right? Well, the itching can cause a whole other lot of trouble, since you can develop small, red sores on the infected area — we're talking about the neck, the ears, and the scalp. These sores may be painful to the touch, and may even bleed at times, so the best way to get rid of the itching isn't to scratch like there's no tomorrow — it's to get rid of the lice itself.
How to get rid of lice permanently
We're assuming that you've checked your scalp out, and are fairly certain that you're convinced you have lice. What do you do now? Do you sit in front of the mirror and meticulously pull out each singular louse and nit? Or do you shave off your scalp and wear a wig for the remainder of the year, since lice can only survive without hair for a day?
Thankfully, your solutions don't need to be that drastic or time-consuming. There are a few ways you can get rid of lice permanently, with the help of a few medications and home treatments. Ahead, we're listing down all the ways to get rid of lice permanently, so there's no need to hit the panic button just yet!
1. Wet-Comb Your Hair
Perhaps the most traditional and popular way to get rid of lice on the head, this one that entails applying a conditioner on wet hair, and using a lice comb to examine each strand of hair to remove lice. Sometimes, you may need another person present though, so make sure you have a buddy present who can help. Also, this one may be effective, but it's extremely time-consuming — so make sure you've got a good podcast lined up before you start the process!
2. Suffocate The Lice
You may have heard of people using mayonnaise when dealing with lice, and it's for a good reason. A mayo-treatment can suffocate and stun the lice, and make them slower, so they can be caught with the comb easily.
You can also use hair oil to do the same, and simply comb through with a lice-comb to get rid of the pesky critters. Don't forget to follow this as many times as necessary, though!
3. Use Essential Oils
While essential oils smell great and work really well for aromatherapy, they can also be effective for getting rid of lice along with combing. Look for oils like tea tree oil, lavender oil, neem oil, and cinnamon oil.
Mix around 20 drops of the essential oils with some almond oil, and leave the mixture on your head for at least 12 hours. Once you're done, comb out your hair, and wash it as usual. Repeat as many times as necessary, and your scalp will be lice-free in no time.
4. OTC Treatments
Keep in mind that these may trigger certain allergic reactions in children under two, and those with sensitive scalps. An over-the-counter lice-remove product can be one of the most effective ways to deal with lice, since it will kill the lice, and in most cases, kill the nits as well. Look for ingredients like ivermectin, which is effective with just one treatment, and doesn't require any nit-combing either. There are also prescription products that you can ask your medical provider for, that will help get rid of lice permanently and effectively.
The bottom line here is, that if you've got lice on your head, there's no need to panic! As long as you steer clear of lice-infested scalps, and inform those who you may have been in contact with, so they can get rid of lice if they have them too, you should be good to go in a week or so. There are simple, effective ways to get rid of lice on your head permanently, and if you follow them to the T, your scalp will be infestation-free in no time.
Written by Nishtha Bhalla on Dec 22, 2021
Nishtha is a freelance writer who loves all things beauty, fashion, culture, and lifestyle. With content covering a variety of topics, she brings a holistic, nuanced perspective to her writing. In her free time, she can be found watching reruns of The Office, reading anything she can get her hands on, and experimenting with astrology.