A scary thing that we have to encounter this time of year – or any time come to think of it, is head lice or ukus, as they are locally known, and their little baby eggs lovingly called nits! Ukus are small, wingless insects that live, breed and feed on the human scalp…yummy! They luckily don’t carry or transmit disease and do not discriminate between race, economic status or cleanliness. They cannot fly or jump but given the chance, will move from head to head without showing any bias. They have been enjoying this parasite existence for thousands of years. In fact, nit combs have reportedly been found within Egyptian tombs. I guess they thought nits would be in the afterlife too!
A nit is a smooth, oval shaped egg attached to the side of the hair shaft and ranges in color from off-white to brown. It can look like dandruff, but cannot be brushed off, and is slightly smaller than a sesame seed. Nits are always the same shape and appeared glued to the hair. A female uku is able to lay between three to eight nits per day in the hair, normally within half an inch of the scalp. www.ukubuster.com has some great pictures and information.
Some people claim there is not much you can do to prevent your kids bringing home these unwanted hitch hikers, but others say that there is plenty we can do. If your child is complaining of an itchy head it is often the first indication that ukus are in da house! But, don’t worry there are natural remedies for head lice.
Ukus, for whatever reason do not like peppermint or tea tree oil. If you have discovered the Doterra oils, which are fabulous and well worth purchasing for your medical cabinet, you could put a few drops in water in a water spray bottle, and spray onto your child’s hair every morning before school. Tara Sellers, manager of the Vitamin room at Mana Foods said a top selling preventative spray they have is Nit Free by Ginesis, which is non-toxic and costs under $12. The main ingredients are water, peppermint and glycerin. You could also combine this with 8 oz. of water and a quarter ounce of tea tree oil, and then spray at the nape of the neck and behind the ears, as a great preventative measure.
If your rug rat’s rug does become the party floor for the ukus Tara said Magic Halo Shampoo by Fairy Lice mothers is a popular buy. This is also non-toxic and can be used to wash your child’s hair to prevent lice and can be used to help remove the nits. Nit Free also has a removal kit for approximately $35.
Some parents claim mayonnaise or white vinegar are effective natural remedies for head lice. Mayonnaise is thought to smother lice if it’s applied thickly and kept on overnight under a shower cap (although this sounds pretty messy) and vinegar is rumored to dissolve the glue that keeps nits stuck to the hair (although this sounds pretty smelly). Whatever you use, it should hopefully be non-toxic, and works to prevent repeat offenders!
The most effective non- solution way to get rid of ukus, is the combing out method. You need patience, a good eye and a fine comb to extract the ukus and their eggs. You need to make sure you comb every uku and nit out of the hair. It may be more effective to comb the hair after treating it with the shampoo or oil spray to make sure you get rid of any cling-ons. Or at least conditioner the hair first so it is more difficult for the lice to cling on. Also with the conditioner you can wipe it off the comb onto a tissue and see that you are getting all the ukus and their eggs.
Some friends with boys have avoided this messy or time consuming episode altogether and have opted for the buzz cut!
You also have to rid your house of the ukus too. It is highly recommended to wash all bedding and recently worn clothes in hot water and then dry on high for at least 30 minutes. This should be sufficient enough to kill any eggs or ukus that may be crawling around. Vacuuming the car and carpet is also recommended, anywhere where your child may lie down or have contact with his hair. For comforters and pillows that may not be able to go in the wash Tara recommended that you put these in a garbage bag, tie it up and leave for 30 days to ensure that there are no straddlers and an end to the uku tirade or at least until the next time!
Image Credit: mauimama