Head Lice and How to Get Rid of Them Naturally
“Black People Don’t Get Lice”
I remember in school how the nurse and teachers would give my classmates and I head checks and try to play off the fact that lice was found on someone in class. When I would get home I would tell my mother about it and she would say, “black people don’t get lice”. After hearing this a few times growing up, I took this statement as fact, and never gave head lice another thought.
How Lice Entered Our Home
Fast forward to adulthood with my school-aged children. My oldest was just finishing up a week at Vacation Bible School when my husband noticed her itching, a lot! Thinking it’s dry scalp, I added oil to her shampoo bottle and I “greased” her scalp (with a mixture of coconut and olive oils). It didn’t work. She was still scratching like a dog with fleas (literally)! The problem finally exposed itself two days later after church. We were heading into a store when I noticed a couple of little critters crawling on her forehead near her scalp line. I thought they had fallen on her from a tree she just walked under and so I quickly told her younger sister to avoid walking that way. I had my husband look at the critters to see if he knew what kind of bugs they were, but he shrugged and shook his head.
As soon as we got home I put her in the shower! The number of those things in her hair was disgusting! I probably combed out about 30! My skin was crawling! All I wanted to do was scream, as they were alive and moving as I was combing them out! But I didn’t scream or make any negative comments as I didn’t want to put my daughter in a panic or make her feel self-conscious.
Out of the shower, as I was combing her hair, I noticed hundreds of these little ball things at the back of her head, on her hair near her scalp, that looked like black sand. I tried to comb them out but they wouldn’t budge. The only way I could get them off was to use my fingernails. I called for my husband to look at this, and that’s when he told me he thought we were dealing with lice.
I quickly looked up lice. The images and information didn’t seem to fit what was going on, but still it had me concerned. If what they said was true then we probably all had lice, especially since my daughters and I had a sleep-out on our sofa sleeper the night before!
My husband left to get a lice kit, and I kept googling. I wasn’t comfortable putting pesticides on my kids’ (or mine) heads and needed to know if there was another way to treat this. I discovered many sources for combating lice naturally but still needed the kit for the nit comb; so I’m glad my husband went to the drug store.
My Battle Against Lice
I quickly came up with a plan of attack and took a day off of work to wage war!
I used a mixture of olive and coconut oils along with a few drops of aniseed, peppermint and lavender essential oils (EOs). I poured this mixture all over our heads until it was running down our necks. Once coated, I placed plastic caps over our heads and then we watched an hour-long movie.
Afterwards, I washed the oil mixture out of our hair and applied a vinegar rinse using white distilled vinegar (I read it worked better at removing nits than apple cider vinegar) which I finger-combed through our hair. I then used very warm water to rinse out the vinegar.
Because we have curly hair, I needed to pre-comb our hair before using the nit comb. I used a wide-tooth comb on my youngest daughter and myself, and a fine-tooth comb on all of use before allowing the ultra-fine tooth of the nit comb to pass through our hair. This process was the longest and required the most patients but I’m glad I did it this way as we had minimal hair loss.
I took an extra step with my oldest after using the nit comb, and I applied a styling product to her hair and blow dried it straight. I usually let her hair air dry but I read certain hair products repel lice and that blow drying hair makes the head a harsh and difficult place for them to live.
With a homemade lice spray killing mixture, I sprayed every fabric item in my house (I went through three bottles of spray!), I vacuumed floors, rugs and couches, and I bagged any stuffed animals and toys that couldn’t be washed. I also applied 1-2 spritz of this spray to our heads (overkill and not recommended!).
Lastly I made a daily lice spray for my oldest to use:
- 20 drops of aniseed EO
- 20 drops of lavender EO
- 20 drops of ylang ylang EO
- 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil (melted)
Fill the rest of the bottle up to the top with water, shake and it’s ready to use!
I’m glad to say there have been no more incidences of lice in our home (or my daughter’s hair) since using this spray, even though the school as sent home more notices.
Can Black People Get Lice?
Race has nothing to do with whether someone gets lice or not. It’s all about coming into contact with someone who has lice and how we treat our hair. It’s common practice among some black women (and young black girls) to straighten their hair either chemically or manually. Whichever process chosen creates a hostile environment for lice (and the hair too!). As more black women embrace their God-given hair textures, opt for more natural hair products, and cut their dependency on styling aids (like myself), will lice become more of a problem for us?
How Much Lice Did I Find In Our Hair?
My oldest had a disgusting amount of lice in her hair! In total it had to be around 50! (My poor baby!)
I found 3 in my youngest daughter’s hair and a few nits.
I saw 1 freakin’ huge one in my sink after the vinegar rinse (so gross)! I didn’t find any nits though so I probably only recently got it; I suspect during our girls only sleep-out.
I repeated this whole process two more times before I declared our home lice free. I didn’t let the stuffed animals or toys out of the bags for a month though. I liked looking at a clean house 🙂
Are you a curly whose experienced lice? Or do you have straight hair with your own lice battle story? Let me know in the comments below.
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