Head Lice During Pregnancy – Treatment & Preventive Measures
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 physical and emotional changes also accompany this time. And, if there are other worries, such as head lice, the expectant mother is bound to lose her cool.
There are many lice treatments easily available in medical stores. However, the only thing to strike most expectant mothers is whether they are safe to use during pregnancy. Chemical shampoos may contain pesticides, which have been linked to brain damage and autism in the unborn child if used. Therefore, the choice as to how to treat lice is an important one.
In this article, we will try to answer as many questions expectant mothers may have about lice infestation, what it means, and how it can be treated without bringing about any harm to the unborn child.
What Are Head Lice?
Head lice refer to small insects that live on the scalp and thrive by feeding on the blood it retrieves by biting the scalp. In most cases, lice do not carry any sort of diseases or germs; they simply cause irritation and itching by biting the scalp. The only cause of concern is that adult female lice attach themselves to the root of the hair and lay eggs there within 7 to 10 days of being born. Therefore, they multiply in no time and cause further discomfort.
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 combs, towels, hats, etc. to prevent the infestation from spreading. At the same time, the affected person may consider taking lice treatment. But, in the case of pregnant women, this might not be an option. Read on to know more.
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 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 medical store and ask for a lice treatment shampoo, often forgetting that the shampoo might contain harsh chemicals. which can affect the health of the pregnant woman and the unborn child adversely.
Let’s take a look at both the options for treating head lice. The information given below will help you make a decision ensuring you and your baby’s health is not compromised.
How to Treat Head Lice in Pregnant Women?
Head lice infestations can be cured using medical and natural means. Although we have provided information on medical treatment for lice below, it is not recommended as the chemicals could be harmful during pregnancy. You may, however, try the natural means that suit your the most.
Most lice shampoos and crème rinses are not as effective as the sprays and lotions. A 4% Dimethicone lotion has been approved for use by pregnant and breastfeeding women, so you can procure that from the drugstore if it is prescribed by your medical practitioner. Even then, make sure to check the label before buying the product to see if there are any warnings for pregnant women. You might have to use the product twice so that all the remaining louse eggs after the first usage also get killed.
One thing expectant mother must bear in mind that these medicines must be given a thought only if you try all the natural remedies first, and only if the remedies have failed to treat the situation. But even then, it is best to avoid any chemicals during pregnancy.
If you observe that the problem does not go away even after using the lotions, you need to check with your medical practitioner for other ways to treat the infestation. Remember that you should not, at any cost, self-medicate, as it could be equally harmful for your baby’s health.
Now, let’s take a look at some natural ways you could treat head lice with.
Natural Ways to Treat Head Lice
These natural ways can be used by pregnant women to treat head lice but with some care.
- 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. Depending on the extent of the infestation, massage it into the scalp. Let it stay for around half an hour, after which you can rinse your hair thoroughly. You can repeat this method as many times as needed.
- 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 with a lice comb 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.
- Wet combing can also help get rid of lice. After a thorough head wash, comb your hair (you may use a conditioner to smoothen the hair). Then, use a lice comb to remove as many head lice as possible. You can also part your hear in several sections and use your fingers to search through clean the infestation.
When to Consult a Doctor?
If you have tried natural remedies 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 the medication that is safe for you and the child growing inside your belly.
Tips for Preventing Lice During Pregnancy
Head lice cannot survive over a day on other surfaces. It needs the scalp to breed on. Nonetheless, after you’re done getting rid of the infestation, you may want to try these tips to prevent lice during pregnancy.
- Always clean the comb, the tissues, the towels, and the surroundings after you are done nitpicking. It is also a good idea to change and wash the clothes you were wearing while removing head lice.
- After you have gotten rid of the lice in your head, you can kill any remaining lice in the mattresses, pillowcases, 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, which are useful in getting rid of the lice in the sofas, 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.
Lice are more of an irritation than a disease and can worsen the mood of an expectant 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