Essential Oils and Head Lice
6 days into the school year, and we already have the dreaded HEAD LICE email. In my opinion, head lice are like ticks. Why were they ever created!? Even the mention of them makes me feel like I need to take a shower, and they are crawling all over me. GAH!
Some facts regarding lice, taken from the CDC website.
Nits (egg phase) can live off a human head for 10 days, but must feed within 45 minutes of hatching or they will die.
Adult lice can live for only 24-48 hours off a human body.
Head lice move by crawling; they cannot hop or fly. Head lice are spread by direct contact with the hair of an infested person. Anyone who comes in head-to-head contact with someone who already has head lice is at greatest risk. Spread by contact with clothing (such as hats, scarves, coats) or other personal items (such as combs, brushes, or towels) used by an infested person is uncommon. Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice.
Lice live for about a month.
Nits (eggs) take 10-12 days to hatch.
Nymphs (young lice) take 10 days to mature. Before they mature they cannot move from head to head and they cannot lay eggs.
Dogs, cats, and other pets do not play a role in the spread of head lice
Other measures that need to be followed are below. Information taken from the CDC website.
"Head lice do not survive long if they fall off a person and cannot feed. You don't need to spend a lot of time or money on housecleaning activities. Follow these steps to help avoid re–infestation by lice that have recently fallen off the hair or crawled onto clothing or furniture."
"Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items that the infested person wore or used during the 2 days before treatment using the hot water (130°F) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry–cleaned OR sealed in a plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks."
"Soak combs and brushes in hot water (at least 130°F) for 5–10 minutes."
"Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person sat or lay. However, the risk of getting infested by a louse that has fallen onto a rug or carpet or furniture is very small. Head lice survive less than 1–2 days if they fall off a person and cannot feed; nits cannot hatch and usually die within a week if they are not kept at the same temperature as that found close to the human scalp. Spending much time and money on housecleaning activities is not necessary to avoid reinfestation by lice or nits that may have fallen off the head or crawled onto furniture or clothing."
Due to the increase in resistance of over the counter options, we have turned to essential oils to keep our kids protected, and hopefully, lice free.
A mom at pre-school just asked me about essential oils, and which ones may be able to combat lice. After some research, this is what I have found, with evidence to support it. Some of these we have used.
Essential oils that contain γ-Terpinene (Gamma Terpinene), terpinen-4-ol, terpineol (α) (Alpha terpineol), benzyl benzoate have been found to be extremely effective at killing head lice. This is why you NEED to get a GC/MS report with EVERY essential you buy!!! If the company you are buying from doesn't have them, think about buying from some place else.
γ-Terpinene (Gamma Terpinene) oils
Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) - do not use on children under 6, or those with asthma
Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)
Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
Plai (Zingiber cassumunar)
Lemon Tea Tree - (Leptospermum petersonii) - children over 6
Read more about this chemical constituent on the Aromahead blog.
Terpineol (α) (Alpha terpineol)
Lime (distilled, not pressed) (Citrus aurantifolia)
Palo Santo (Bursera graveolens)
Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) - children over 6
Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) - children over 2
Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora)
According to Wikipedia.com, Benzyl benzoate is a medication and insect repellent. As a medication it is used to treat scabies and lice.
Found on pubmed.gov, The efficacy of Australian essential oils for the treatment of head lice infestation in children: A randomized controlled trial..... "efficacy of a head lice treatment containing Australian eucalyptus oil. The conclusion: The efficacy, safety and relative ease of use of the EO/LP solution make it a viable alternative in treating head lice."
In an article from pubmed.org titled, Activity of tea tree oil and nerolidol alone or in combination against Pediculus capitis (head lice) and its eggs, "Lice treated with tea tree oil at 1 % of concentration (A4), caused 100 % mortality after 30 min of washing."