While catching lice is a common occurrence in children between the ages of 3 and 12, it is less common in infants. However, there are still occasions in which your baby may pick up these pesky parasites from an older child or sibling. These parasites are otherwise known as pediculus humanus capitis and they sustain themselves by feeding on the blood of the scalp. An adult female louse will lay up to eight eggs a day. These eggs are known as nits and they attach themselves to the hair shaft until which time they reach maturity, usually about seven days.
The problem with lice in babies is that most of the over the counter treatments are not approved in use for babies under the age of two. In addition, there have been cases in which toddlers have suffered seriously illnesses as a result of using these OTC insecticides. The following home remedies may be helpful in assisting you if you should ever find that your baby has head lice.
Call Your Doctor
Before trying any sort of home remedy on your baby, always call your pediatrician to clear your strategies with him/her. There are many substances which can be used safely on adults but not in infants or toddlers. For this reason it is always a good idea when dealing with a child below the age of two years old to check with the doctor first. In addition, the doctor may have suggestions as to what can be done to rid your baby of lice. Most pediatricians have quite a bit of experience in matters such as these.
Remember that your family members and friends are not the same as your doctor! While they may mean well, they may not always offer you the safest advice when it comes to treating your baby’s sensitive scalp for head lice. There are a number of absolutely bizarre methods of treating lice flying around the internet and many of them are quite hazardous to your baby’s health. For this reason be sure the advice you are getting is from a qualified physician. The same can be said for the following suggestions. Check with your doctor before employing any of their use.
Many people swear to using petroleum jelly as a home remedy for lice. The good news is that while this substance is quite greasy and very hard to remove from the hair, it works by smothering any live lice. In addition, the petroleum jelly also works by helping to loosen the nits. To use this method you simply slather your babies head with petroleum jelly, put a hair cap on or wrap a piece of saran wrap around your babies head. For optimal results you may want to leave this on for several hours. Remember to carefully supervise your child during this process, not only so he/she does not suffocate from the plastic, but also so he/she does not touch his/her head and then place his/her tiny fingers into his/her mouth.
When enough time has passed you will want to get the petroleum jelly out of your baby’s hair. Unfortunately, this will be the hardest task. Warm water and dawn dish detergent seem to be the best combination when trying to remove petroleum jelly from hair. When you have finished removing all of the petroleum jelly out of your baby’s hair, apply a decent amount of conditioner. Use a special fine tooth comb which can be purchased in any drug store to slowly comb through the hair. The conditioner will make gliding the comb through your baby’s hair easier and less painful. The comb works by catching and pulling free any nits that have attached to your baby’s hair. This process should be repeated every two or three days until you are sure there is no more lice present.
There are a number of essential oils which have been known to kill lice. These oils can be purchased in most major department stores, bath and beauty stores or by ordering them online. Oils such as Lavender, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Peppermint and Eucalyptus are believed effective when used as a home remedy for lice. More importantly they are very mild and do not typically cause any sort of adverse reaction in babies or children.
Use caution and make sure you read the label on whatever product you are looking into to be sure there are not other additives which may not be as friendly to sensitive skin. To use these oils, mix a small amount with some mild shampoo and lather the baby’s hair well. Use the same plastic wrap or shower cap method as mentioned above and leave on for about an hour. After rinsing follow the same steps in terms of rinsing well and applying conditioner. Then follow the steps with the fine tooth comb, taking care to remove the nits and dispose of them properly. This process may need to be repeated every two to three days until there is no further evidence of lice.
Once you have successfully treated your baby for lice and you are certain the live lice as well as the eggs are gone, you will need to be sure your home is treated as well. Take all stuffed toys or fabrics such as blankets and pillows and either put them in the clothes dryer for about 45 minutes, or put them in air tight trash bags for a period of 72 hours. Both methods will kill any lice or eggs present. In addition, make sure that the babies bedding is changed and the crib mattress disinfected. The most common reason for lice re-infestation is negligence in terms of treating your home properly.