So you just discovered that your natural hair has been infested with lice and you are scared and don’t know what to do. You’ve asked around for help and everyone is suggesting you either cut or relax your hair. Now you are at a crossroads of whether or not to follow their advice or look for another immediate solution. You can’t imagine cutting or relaxing the hair you worked so hard to grow and maintain. There just has to be another way out.
Great news! There is another way out. You don’t have to cut or relax your hair to get rid of head lice. All you have to do is follow the steps listed in this post and you would be able to get rid of head lice in your natural hair.
Understanding how head lice spread
Before you start treatment, it is important to understand how you may have gotten it. Head lice don’t jump or live on pets and has nothing to do with personal hygiene. They live on the human head only. However, they can spread from touching the hair of an infected person, sharing combs, hats, or scarfs with an infected person or letting the head of an infected person come in contact with yours.
Head lice eggs (nits) firmly attached to the hair strands. They are usually white in color and may look like dandruff but if you examine well using a magnifying glass, you will see that they are oval-shaped and not flat. They have six legs that are strong and hold on to the hair strands tightly. After six to seven days, these nits hatch and grow to become full adults that can reproduce by day seventeen.
Symptoms of head lice infestation
Head lice feed on human blood, so they have to bite your scalp to feed off your blood. This bite causes sores and a very intense and annoying itch to your scalp that is usually uncomfortable. Moreover, they are usually very active at night and you may experience some tickling feeling in your hair at night.
If you experience any of these symptoms, then you need to do a physical inspection of your hair to confirm the presence of lice. You need to part your hair in small sections and observe for lice or their eggs (nits). You can ask someone to help you if you can’t do it yourself.
How to get rid of head lice on natural hair
1. Wash your hair with a sulfate-free shampoo
This is the first and important step to getting rid of lice from your hair. Wash your hair thoroughly in sections with warm water. The water should be a little warmer than normal or hot if you can handle it. After washing, blot dry with a micro-fiber towel or t-shirt.
2. Nit-pick your entire head
This simply means parting your hair in very small sections and raking your hands through each hair strand to remove the nits (the eggs of lice). Nits are difficult to remove, hence the need to get rid of them using this method.
3. Coat hair with an organic and essential oil mix
Lice hate the smell of essential oils. However, it is unhealthy to apply essential oils directly to your hair. You have to mix it in a carrier oil such as coconut oil or olive oil. Adding essential oils such as lavender oil and tea tree oil to any carrier oil is a great mix that kills lice. Apply the oil mix generously to your hair and cover in a plastic cap or nylon for 6-8 hours and rinse.
4. Coat hair with Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Mix one part ACV with one part water and coat your hair. Cover hair with a plastic cap or nylon for 2-3 hours. ACV is great for treating many hair and scalp issues. It clarifies the hair and returns your hair to a balanced pH level.
Bonus tip: You can substitute ACV with bentonite clay and follow the same process.
5. Blow out and flat iron or hot comb your hair
At this point, you want to make sure that all the lice are thoroughly dealt with by blow drying and flat ironing or hot combing your hair in small sections. Make sure you apply the same oil mix used in step 3 on your scalp and hair.
6. Thoroughly rake your straightened hair
At this point, you want to carefully rake through your straightened hair with a lice comb and look out carefully for any nits and live bugs. You should do this all through the week to ensure thorough removal of head lice.
7. Wash your shirts, headscarves, hair combs, pillowcases, and bedsheets
This is a preventative measure you should apply just to be safe and avoid re-infestation. Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items you wore using hot water laundry cycle and 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 for 5 to 10 minutes. Vacuum the floor and furniture at squirrelly where you may have sucked or made. Also, it’s important to wash all your weaves, wigs, wig caps, hair bands, and bonnets as well.
Using medications to get rid of head lice
For many people, the first line of defense against head lice is an over-the-counter head lice treatment that typically comes in the form of a shampoo. These medicines also called pediculicide, usually contain pyrethrins as the active ingredients. These medications should be applied according to the instruction contained in the box or printed on the label.
Read this CDC guideline for the treatment of head lice to learn more about these medications.
If you try all these ways mentioned above and it didn’t work, and you are certain you didn’t get reinfested, please seek professional help. It is possible you are dealing with headlice that are resistant. Those living things can easily mutate.
Tips on how to avoid head lice infestation
- Avoid head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact during play and other activities at home, school, and elsewhere (sports activities, playground, slumber parties, camp).
- Do not share clothing such as hats, scarves, coats, hair ribbons, or barrettes.
- Do not share combs, brushes, or towels.
- Hair weaves can also carry lice. Make sure to inspect any weave you buy before use or better still wash every weave before use.