What Happens If I Get Lice During Pregnancy?

Zebah Meraki
·5-min read

Pregnancy can be a magical time–but it also has its fair share of ups and downs. From morning sickness to pregnancy glow and everything in between, there is a lot that comes with it. And that means taking care of your body and dealing with any condition or ailment no matter how minor, takes centerstage. Including dealing with head lice.

Yes, you read that right. We’re talking about head lice. Though fairly uncommon for sticklers of cleanliness–unless you come in contact with somebody who has them– they can be quite bugging!

But how does one get them during pregnancy and what are the treatments? We have the answers.

How Does One Get Lice?

lice treatment in pregnancy
lice treatment in pregnancy

Image source: iStock

You may know that head lice are tiny insects that live in our scalp and thrive on our blood. They can only crawl and transmit through shared products or on close contact and they spread and multiply rapidly. And since they are not carriers of any bacterial or viral disease, they are simply a nuisance.

Which is why most people prefer to treat at home using home remedies. This is even more so the case if you’re expecting.

If you already have kids, then you might have already encountered a head lice infestation incident either from their peers at school or the playground. But SG Pediatrics say that the spread of lice can also often happen at home. So if you’re expecting, it’s best to practice caution around kids and check their scalp for it often.

Symptoms of Lice

It can be quite tricky to ascertain the presence of lice. They may live in the hair for anywhere between 3 and 6 weeks before you notice any signs. They also are tiny and move quickly.

These factors, combined with their dark colour, make them almost impossible to spot at first glance. Unfortunately, by the time you detect them, in most cases, they already have propagated and multiplied.

However, even with the odds stacked against you, there are some signs to watch out.

  • Visible lice in the hair

  • Lice eggs or nits – seen close to the shaft of the hair

  • Itchy scalp

Natural Lice Treatment in Pregnancy

lice treatment in pregnancy
lice treatment in pregnancy

Image source: iStock

Ideally, expecting women should use natural treatment methods and minimise chemical exposure as much as they can. Here are some great natural tips for lice treatment in pregnancy:

  • Combing: This is the most basic form of treatment. Run a very fine-toothed comb through wet hair to trap the lice and remove them carefully. Remember to use a fine-toothed comb specially made for lice removal. Check the comb with each stroke, remove all lice, clean the comb, and repeat the step till the whole scalp is covered twice.

Note: This method only removes lice and not nits. Repeat this every three days until you notice no more lice on the comb or head, and all symptoms have disappeared.

  • Oiling: Essential oils also make for an effective lice treatment in pregnancy. Add 15 drops of essential oil to about two ounces of coconut or olive oil and mix well. Use lavender, clove, eucalyptus, or tea tree oil for the best results. You can also apply oil, let it rest overnight, and wash out the next morning with shampoo. Remember to comb your hair well when damp to remove all the dead lice.

Note: Some people may have reactions to essential oils. So test it out first on another part of your body. For instance, take a few drops on your hand and wait for a few hours to ensure you are safe before opting for this treatment.

  • Smothering: Suffocating the lice is a good lice treatment in pregnancy. Create a thick mixture using heavy products like mayonnaise, butter, and olive oil. Layer it well into the scalp, cover your head with a shower cap, and let it rest overnight. Wash it out thoroughly the next morning and comb your hair out carefully.

When to Visit the Doctor

It’s essential to see the doctor for lice treatment in pregnancy when:

  • You have lice despite trying the natural remedies suggested.

  • You develop a reaction to the essential oils.

  • You have managed to treat lice topically, but the nits persist.

Cautionary Tips for Lice Treatment in Pregnancy

Image source: iStock

Here are some essential things to remember when treating lice during pregnancy, and soon after:

  • Clean your comb and countertop each time you comb your hair for lice.

  • Wash your bed linen, clothing, and towels in hot water while treating for lice. Although resilient and hardy, lice cannot survive more than 24 hours when not in contact with the scalp.

  • Wash all your hair accessories and hair care products like combs and brushes in warm water to disinfect them thoroughly.

  • Place all items that cannot be washed in sealed bags for at least a fortnight before you wipe them clean for use.

  • Use chemical sprays on products too large to wash, like the sofas and mattresses.

  • Vacuum the floor thoroughly to remove any traces of lice and nits. Take help to manage these tasks, and avoid performing them yourself.

Lice are more annoying than harmful. But good hygiene and care in treating them can prevent them from breeding and persisting. Remember that you should take the help you can get and seek medical assistance when you feel too uncomfortable.


All About Head Lice: A Parent’s Guide to Keeping Kids’ Hair Clean

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