Head Lice

lemon in water

Q: Is there a natural product to prevent and/ or treat head lice in children?

A: These tiny insects breed profusely on scalps, attaching their eggs (nits) near the base of individual hairs. They spread by climbing from one head to another, up to a six-centimetre distance apart. Although harmless, they cause itching.

Some essential oils have potent pesticidal properties, according to medical herbalist and pharmacist Dr Chris Etheridge. The natural brand Puressentiel offers a Lice Repellent Spray, based on a derivative of lemon eucalyptus essential oil. A report from the University of Tours, France, showed a repellent effect of more than 24 hours in laboratory tests. Spray children aged three and upwards every morning.

Puressentiel Anti-Lice Treatment Lotion contains oils of coconut, calophyllum, jojoba,sunflower, sweet almond and castor, which block the respiratory openings of the lice, larvae and nits. Essential oils of lavender, tea tree, clove and geranium help deter lice and are soothing and antiseptic. Leave the lotion on hair for ten minutes and repeat three days later.

A trial conducted by Dr Arezki Izri of Avicenne Hospital, France, confirmed that Anti-Lice Treatment Lotion kills nearly 80 percent of lice in tests at the parasitology-mycology laboratory. This is comparable to, or higher than, results for other (conventional)oil-based products, he says. Follow-up tests showed the lotion killed 98 per cent of eggs.

Treatment should include combing through wet hair with a good-quality steel comb to pull out eggs and lice. Puressentiel Lice Repellent Spray, £9.99, and Anti-Lice Complete Treatment Lotion and Comb, £12.99.


GOOD TO GROW

How do you get a shy teenager to abandon his computer and spend time outdoors with other people? The answer for community worker Christine Robinson-Perkins was to take her son Cameron on a day planting up beds in their Leeds estate’s community orchard.

Two years ago, Cameron, now 18, was in his first year doing media studies at college. Spare time was spent at his screen or caring for his ten-year-old autistic sister. But he enjoyed the gardening so much that he started volunteering every week. Then came the day when Cameron told his astonished mother that he wanted to study horticulture. He has just completed his first year and intends to work as a gardener.

The Cottingley Hall estate community orchard has brought about a big change in Cameron’s life. ‘Being in the orchard is a good way of making new friends, as well as being therapeutic,’ he told me. For Christine, it’s like having a different son. ‘Now he loves being outside and he’s much more confident.’

Cottingley Hall estate is an unlikely site for an orchard, lying between a motorway and a railway line. The residents applied to Helping Britain Blossom (helpingbritainblossom.org.uk), the UK’s largest community orchard project, for support to plant fruit and nut trees – including apple, plum, pear, mulberry, olive, walnut, almond and sweet chestnut, many of them heritage varieties – to border a half-mile avenue on a former dumping ground near the estate.

‘It’s magical seeing the trees in such an unexpected place,’ says Christine. ‘People on the estate join designated working days. There were lots of pictures of our first apple crop on Facebook.’ The Apple Day festival falls on 21 October this year, when community orchards nationwide, including Cottingley, will celebrate with special events. Helping Britain Blossom has now supported 150 community orchards nationwide and helps groups to restore neglected existing orchards.


EVE APPEAL

This month is Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month and The Eve Appeal (eveappeal.org.uk) is urging women – and men – to be aware of symptoms such as unexpected bleeding, pain during intercourse, blood-stained or smelly vaginal discharge, bloating or needing to urinate more often than usual. See your doctor or contact The Eve Appeal’s Ask Eve service on 0808 802 0019 or email nurse@eveappeal.org.uk.

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