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Head lice

Insecticidal resistance in head lice leads to search for natural treatment

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 by: Katie BrindAmour
Tags: head lice, home remedies, insecticides

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(NaturalNews) Head lice can be a parent's nightmare, but head lice with resistance to common over-the-counter lice treatments can be parents' and doctors' nightmares. Many countries have been reporting a growing number of lice cases with resistance to anti-lice medications. Hoping to find a solution to the problem, researchers are beginning to investigate natural head lice treatments.

Recent studies in France and Italy, for instance, have explored natural oils for the effective treatment of mature lice and eggs. Insecticidal resistance, as well as increasing concern over the cumulative toxicity of typical antilice medications, has made some outbreaks difficult to treat and a major concern for children's health.

Researchers in France tested the effectiveness of Andiroba oil and Quassia vinegar solutions to treat head lice in 30 patients. Just five days after the first treatment, 20 percent of cases were resolved; 90 percent were cured after three treatments (each five days apart). In addition to being highly effective, the treatment was more convenient than many natural and chemical treatments and had relatively mild, short-lived side effects (such as redness, itchiness, and flakiness of the scalp).

In an Italian study on the insecticidal effect of two essential oil treatments, lice were collected from school children and treated in a lab with a number of natural solutions. The researchers found that a combined, diluted solution of tea tree oil and nerolidol worked the best against mature lice and eggs (tea tree worked better on adult lice, nerolidol worked better on eggs). Thirty minutes after application of the solution, most lice were dead, and nits were dead by five days after treatment. This study did not examine the effect of this solution on human scalps or the practicality of administering this solution in the real world.

When over-the-counter anti-lice drugs don't work, try Mother Nature

The growing resistance of head lice and other parasitic infestations to approved medications may drive more and more families, physicians, and researchers to search for simple, natural treatments that kill the pests without causing harm to the patient or the environment.

A variety of natural oil dilutions - including oregano, lavender, spearmint, anise seed, and eucalyptus - have also been shown to be at least as effective as typical over-the-counter chemical medications, often without the side effects. Before applying any essential oil solutions to the scalp, find an appropriate dilution level; some essential oils should be diluted to just 1 to 2 percent, while others can be used in larger concentrations.

In addition, common oils (like olive oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil) can also be used for lice treatment; it is thought to smother the adult lice. Regardless of the natural treatment, shampooing and thorough combing for nits is essential in the eradication of head lice.

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About the author:
Katie BrindAmour is a Certified Health Education Specialist and passionate health and wellness freelance writer. She enjoys cooking, yoga, gardening, searching for the perfect wine and chocolate combination, and spending time with friends. She has a Masters in Biology and is currently pursuing her PhD in Health Services Management and Policy. She also enjoys blogging for Women's Healthcare Topics and Healthline Networks.

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