Head Lice during Pregnancy – Treatment & Preventive Measures

A woman checking her hair

Pregnancy is one of the most difficult times in the life of a woman. After the initial euphoria of learning that a baby is on the way, pregnancy starts to affect the mother in ways she’d never imagined. A whole lot of hormones are released into the bloodstream, and this time is also accompanied by physical and emotional changes. In short, worrying about louse eggs or lice is the last thing that any person would want during pregnancy.

There are many lice treatments on offer and are available in the most basic medical stores. However, as an expecting mother, the only thing that will be on your mind will be whether these lice treatments are safe for your child. Chemical shampoos may contain pesticides, which have been linked towards brain damage and autism in the unborn child if used- the choice as to how to treat lice is an important one.

In this article, let us take a look at what lice infestation means, and how it can be treated without bringing about any harm to your child.

What are Head Lice?


Head lice refer to small insects that live on the scalp and bite you around the scalp. These insects feed on the blood it retrieves by biting the scalp. In most cases, lice do not carry any sorts of diseases or germs- they simply cause irritation and itching by biting the scalp. Adult female lice attach themselves to the root of the hair and lay eggs there within 7 to 10 days of being born.

It is extremely easy to contract a lice infestation, as it spreads via the slightest head-to-head contact in most cases. If a person is infested by lice, it is important to ensure that she does not have any common bombs, towels or even hats- those are all medium through which the infestation spreads.

Is it Safe to Use Lice Treatment during Pregnancy?

After a woman is found to be pregnant, doctors advise her to check before consuming any sort of medication- this is because the medicines have to be vetted, and checked to find out if they cause any harm to the child. However, in the case of lice, women simply rush to the nearest medicine shop and ask for a lice treatment shampoo, often forgetting that the shampoo might be made up of harsh chemicals. These chemicals may contain significant amounts of pesticides, which can affect the health of the pregnant woman and the unborn child adversely. Therefore, it is best to try out natural lice treatments instead of opting for chemical shampoos.

How to Treat Head Lice in Pregnant Women?

You can either use natural substances and items to treat the lice, or go the medicine way:

Medical Treatment

Medicines are preferred only if you try out natural remedies first after they have failed to treat the situation. Most lice shampoos and crème rinses are not very effective, so sprays and lotions are your best bet. A 4% Dimethicone lotion has been approved for use by pregnant and breastfeeding women, so you can procure that from the drugstore. Even then, make sure to check the label before buying the product, to see if there are any warnings against use by pregnant women. You can also consult the doctor if any doubts remain. You might have to use the product twice so that all the remaining louse eggs after the first usage also get killed.

If you observe that the problem does not go away even after using the lotions, prescription medications must be obtained. You have to visit the doctor and let him know that you are pregnant before getting his prescription.

Natural Ways to Treat Lice

  • Tea tree oil in its pure form can get rid of lice without causing any harm to your fetus. You will need to mix a few drops of the oil in baby shampoo and apply it on your scalp while bathing. According to the extent of the infestation, massage it into the scalp. Let it stay on the hair for around half an hour, after which you can rinse your hair thoroughly. You can repeat this method as many times as required.
  • Nitpicking is another great way to help you get rid of lice. First, divide the scalp into eight manageable areas, and then comb each one thoroughly to get rid of as many lice as possible. Then, you can use your fingers for a more thorough search. Repeat this after a week to get rid of the lice from the hatched eggs.
  • Lavender oil, neem oil, eucalyptus oil and clove oil are also great to combat lice infestation.

Tips for Preventing Lice during Pregnancy

  • After you have gotten rid of the lice in your head, you can kill any remaining lice in the mattresses and clothes using heat. Just let them bake in the sun for a few hours, so that all remaining lice are killed.
  • If the items are big, you can use chemical sprays- this is useful to get rid of the lice in sofas and couches. Make sure that you get somebody’s help, and not breathe in the pesticides yourself.
  • If you observe someone around you scratching their head, take preventive measure at the earliest to stop it from spreading.

When to Consult a Doctor?

If you have tried natural remedies and over-the-counter sprays and nothing has worked, you might have to consult the doctor to get rid of the lice infestation. Do mention that you are pregnant so that you get only medicine that is safe for the growth of the child.

Lice are more of an irritation than a disease and can worsen the mood of an expecting mother. Treating lice is not difficult, but prevention is the best way however, you must consult a doctor if you are unable to treat the infestation yourself.

Also Read: Hairfall during Pregnancy