We had an encounter recently with nits...are you scratching yet just thinking about them? I am.
I check my girls hair regularly when I know they are going around, which seems to be mostly when the seasons turn into Autumn and into Spring.
We haven't had them in over four years...so it was probably our turn again, and the fact that my guard was down led to the following mistakes.
This time I had mistakenly sent Cherub to preschool with freshly washed hair that she had refused to let me tie up. The evening before I had washed and conditioned her hair and whilst I was blow drying it I checked for nits. Nothing.
The next day when I picked her up from preschool I could see the eggs all around her hairline. They had obviously jumped on board early and started reproducing with a vengeance. I sat there squishing as many lice and nits as I could easily find...they were HUGE and gross. The only way to easily ensure you kill them is to 'pop' them between two thumbnails.
The nits are the eggs and the lice are the live insects.
Remember that lice don't jump they are just very agile swingers from one hair strand to another, so ensure your own hair is tied up and out of the way before commencing any treatment.
Immediate action was taken to prevent the spread throughout the family and within a couple of days she was confirmed nit and lice free. Remember that they love clean hair and dislike dirty greasy hair.
Here is the best natural treatment for nits that I know of - not for the slight of stomach when it comes to squishing insects.
1. Wash hair thoroughly with lots of lathered Neem soap, I use Trade Aid Neem Soap. The neem oils seem to help unstick the stickiness of the eggs.
2. Optional: whilst hair is still wet apply generous amounts of conditioner and leave in. This makes the lice very slow moving. So when you are combing you have a chance to get them and squish them.
3. Take a time consuming fine toothed comb and gently comb out tiny sections of hair at a time. I find it easiest to go nape of the neck up towards one ear at a time, then up though the crown and forward above each ear, then around the face. This part is time consuming and natural daylight is best if the hair you are combing is dark brown at the root. There is truth to the term 'nit picking' you have to be so thorough to do every tiny section of hair.
The nits are laid very close to the scalp, any that are found more than a centimeter from the scalp are 'old egg sacks'. When you get an egg on the comb you need to pop it between your thumb nails. Leaving them to fall on the floor, chair or couch where you are sitting will just promote the spread of them throughout the household. They are laid close to the scalp for incubation purposes, once off the head and not incubated they are unlikely to survive but it is better to be safe than sorry.
4. If you haven't used the optional conditioner: As you are combing sections add small amounts of oil to the roots of the hair in the sections that you have cleared. The reasons for this are to deter any missed lice from laying any more eggs (remember that they prefer clean hair because it gives them easy access to the scalp), and if any missed nit hatch they won't survive in the grease.
I use any body oil, but I usually have almond oil on hand with added aromatherapy (which is even better at deterring and kills insects).
5. If you have used the optional conditioner: Once you have combed out every single nit and louse that you can find and killed it, feel free to rinse out the conditioner. Once the hair is rinsed generously add the oil to the hair roots.
6. Leave the oil in for as long as possible, preferably 24hours or more. Then wash it out with the neem soap again.
7. I recommend thoroughly fine combing the hair every 3 days until you are certain that there are no nits or lice left. Any that have been missed will have hatched and be big enough to see. You have to keep interrupting the cycle. Using this method I have never had to do more than a quick check on day three, but it all depends on how thorough you are with the fine combing.
Good luck and may the force for killing be with you.