Summer’s here, and the warm weather brings the bugs out. In addition to the summer joys of mosquitoes, wasps and black flies, parents get to worry about lice hitchhiking home from summer camp on their kids’ hair.
The New York Times’ Well blog estimates that Americans spend $1 billion a year on lice treatments to get rid of this persistent, itchy bugs. That’s a lot of dough to deal with the critters.
There’s good news though: you don’t have to take your kids to a “lice salon” to get rid of the infestation. While you can drop $300 a head on a professional nitpicker to clear out your child’s hair, there are home remedies that work just fine for a small fraction of the cost.
You’re probably familiar with commercial lice shampoos. These pesticides won’t kill nits, the hardy eggs attached to your child’s hair near the scalp, so several doses are required to kill the lice in waves as they hatch.
Pouring pesticide all over your child’s head skeeve you out? Me too. Here are some natural remedies the New York Times recommends:
- olive oil
- hair conditioner
- Cetaphil face cleanser
Any of these can be put on the hair and left overnight. The theory is that they suffocate any live lice.
You still need to break out a fine-tooth comb and go over the child’s head carefully for nits. No need to invest in the steel-tooth combs sold by lice supply sites, though. A simple plastic drugstore comb will work just fine as long as the bristles are close together.
Lice are so commonplace it’s likely you’ll run into them at some point in your parenting career. Effective treatment can be a pain, but it can be done cheaply.
Photo: Eran Finkle