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Natural Ways to Treat & Prevent Lice

From the Show: Naturally Savvy
Summary: The last thing you want to hear from your kid's school nurse is that she has lice.
Air Date: 9/3/14
Duration: 10
Host: Andrea Donsky, RHN and Lisa Davis, MPH
Guest Bio: Risa Barash
Risa Barash is the Co-Owner and Co-Founder of Fairy Tales Hair Care, a line of affordable and natural professional hair care products for kids. A former stand-up comic, Risa has since partnered with school nurses, moms and pediatricians across the nation to help prevent lice outbreaks. She has also developed a leading natural formula for lice prevention and treatment. After spending years in the business of bugs, Risa knows the ins and outs of lice removal, can discuss the pros and cons of natural vs. chemical treatments, and give parents some peace of mind before sending their kids back to the classroom this fall.
Natural Ways to Treat & Prevent Lice
The last thing you want to hear from your kid's school nurse is that she has lice.

When looking for a way to address lice, many parents turn to natural options like mayonnaise or olive oil to kill the bugs, rather than use harsh chemically-based treatments.

But, while mayo or olive oil will eventually smother a live bug, they won't get rid of the nits still in their eggs.

According to special guest and hair care expert, Risa Barash, a new generation of natural products use enzymes as an active ingredient, which dissolve the live bug, as well as the "glue" with which the nits stick to the hair shaft.

Using a fine tooth comb with these enzyme products can be extremely effective.

What are some myths that surround preventing and treating lice?

Myth #1: Lice like dirty hair.
The exact opposite is true; lice like clean hair. They can attach to a clean hair shaft easier than one that contains natural oils or product.

Myth #2: Lice can jump and fly.
Nope; they can only crawl, so head-to-head contact is the most likely way that head lice will spread.

Myth #3: Chlorine kills lice.
Not true; they just go into what's called a "suspended state of animation" and can survive an extended amount of time in the pool or hot tub. In fact, lice can live for an unbelievable amount of time. Archeologists have even found lice in ancient Egyptian tombs.

Myth #4: You have to cut your kids hair.
Not so. A bug lays an egg about a 1/4-1/2 inch from the top of the head; so unless you're going to shave your kid's head, you're not doing anything but traumatize your child.

What is Risa's advice for when you find out your kid has lice?

Pour a glass of wine!

Whether you do that for yourself or not, it's important to avoid panic mode -- in both yourself and your child. No kid wants to see mommy freaking out because he has bugs in his hair. Keep in mind: hair lice is a nuisance, that's about it.

What are some ways you can prevent lice in your kids?

Lice don't like rosemary, tea tree or citronella. Many products available these day use these ingredients to specifically help prevent head lice.

Also, let other parents know if your kid has lice, and hope that those parents do the same. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Those lice didn't manifest on your child's head; he or she got the lice from someone else. It's not your fault.

Finally, check periodically just to make sure... use it as a time to talk to your kids to find out what's happening in their world.

The lice will appear as beige or brown spots. At the smallest size, they can be as tiny as a pencil point. Check the "hot spots," which include behind the ears, the back of the neck and part line.

Listen in for more great advice on treating and preventing lice, as well as the most important things you can do once lice is identified.