Headlice infestation, a widespread condition, causes itching, poor sleep quality and lack of concentration. Because transmission occurs through direct contact, it mainly affects children. While not linked to hygiene or socio-economic conditions, the prevalence of infestations in poor populations is much higher due to small, more cramped living spaces and limited access to headlice information and treatment. This is why Antenna Medicines was interested in finding a simple, natural, inexpensive and effective solution to eradicate headlice. We found inspiration in a Brazilian formula using salt, vinegar and water. After a series of tests with volunteers in Switzerland, we evaluated the effectiveness of this solution in a school in Brazil. We then improved its effectiveness by developing 3 versions that we tested using a larger study in 5 schools in Nepal. The success rates of the different solutions tested were similar: 71% of the children were able to get rid of their lice, which is a good result when compared to the products on the market (when evaluated scientifically!).
Before each school intervention, we developed a programme based on a theatrical performance involving the whole community, including parents and teachers, to turn a scourge into a festive event with a focus on headlice management. At the same time, teachers brought the topic into the classroom.
The first event took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in March 2018; the comparative study took place in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal in March-May 2019.
We have ensured the dissemination of these anti-lice treatments so far in Samos, Greece (for refugees), in Brazil and in Nepal (in schools) using local NGOs.
Natural anti-lice treatment recipes
In a measuring cup, add the salt, vinegar and a little water; stir so as to dissolve the salt completely. Add the baby shampoo or glycerine and the essential oil; add enough water to reach 100 ml and mix well.
If a measuring cup is not available, use a 0.5 litre PET (plastic) bottle and multiply the quantities in the recipe by 5.
To apply easily, transfer the solution to a spray bottle or a 0.5 litre bottle with a few holes in the cap.
For short hair, 100 ml should suffice for the 3 treatments. For long hair, prepare 300 ml.
Other equipment needed
- A towel (to protect shoulders) and a cloth to protect eyes
- A comb or a brush to detangle
- An anti-louse comb
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- Head Lice at School. Health Equity – Volume 5.1, 2021