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Natural Remedies For 7 Common Back-To-School Ailments

Back to school bugs 11

After the excitement of going back to school begins to wear off, then comes the reality of all the nasty bugs that the school setting can bring. Classrooms and playgrounds are breeding grounds for a host of nasty ailments, including lice, rashes, impetigo, scabies and more.

Luckily there is help…and much of that help can be found in your essential oil collection. As a matter of fact, if all you have are the “essentials” of essential oils (ie. Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, and Tea Tree) you can deal with almost anything the classroom can dish out!

Back to school bugs

HEAD LICE

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to one in four elementary school children in the U.S. get head lice each year. A child can catch head lice from another child during play, or by sharing items such as combs, headphones, towels and beds.

Essential oils are a non-toxic and safe alternative for getting rid of head lice compared to traditional pharmaceutical solutions. A number of essential oils have been shown to be effective—along with combing—in eliminating head lice:  Tea TreeLavenderEucalyptusGeraniumThymeLemonRosemary.

Mix 2 ounces of a carrier oil (olive oil or jojoba are two good choices) with 15 to 20 drops of your preferred essential oil. Apply to the scalp using cotton balls. Leave this mixture on the scalp and hair overnight—at least 12 hours. Comb out and shampoo, rinse, and repeat. An alternative approach is to mix the 15 to 20 drops of essential oil in 4 ounces of rubbing alcohol. Place the mixture in a spray bottle and saturate the hair with it. Again, leave it on for at least 12 hours. Remember—combing out the hair is absolutely essential to remove the lice!

Back to school bugs

PINK EYE

Pink eye (or conjunctivitis) is caused by a virus and results in redness and swelling of the mucous membrane that lines the eyelid. It is very common and very contagious. Most cases of pink eye run their course within a period of 7-10 days. But because pink eye can be irritating and uncomfortable, most people are eager to find a remedy.

The three essential oils I would turn to in addressing pink eye are: Tea Tree, Lavender, and Eucalyptus. These oils may be applied in a couple of ways:

  • Diffuse near the person affected, especially at bedtime
  • Rub oils on the boney area that circles the eye, avoiding direct contact with the eye

Because pink eye is contagious, it is good to take preventive measures by washing hands and refraining from sharing towels or wash cloths.

Back to school bugs

IMPETIGO

Impetigo one of the most common skin infections among kids. It can be spread by contact with infected skin, or touching things like clothing, towels, and bed linens that have been touched by infected skin. It usually starts as a red area, which can be painful and itchy. After a day or so, the infected area may become crusty with a characteristic golden color. If not treated, the infection becomes more widespread.

Treatment with essential oils is especially effective because bacteria cannot form a resistance to an essential oil like it can to an antibiotic. Two oils that are typically used to treat impetigo are Tea Tree and Lavender. Both of these oils are strong antiseptic oils, they are also non-toxic and non-irritating as well.

Mix Tea Tree and/or Lavender essential oil half-and-half with a carrier oil (such as jojoba oil, or olive oil) and apply to affected area. Other essential oils that help heal the skin and diminish the condition include Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, and Helichrysum.

Back to school bugs

RINGWORM

Ringworm is not a worm, it is a fungal infection of the skin that grows outward from the center and develops a red ring appearance on the skin. It is most common on the scalp but it can also appear on the body. It is contagious and can be stubborn to treat.

Some essential oils with anti-fungal properties that are used to treat ringworm include: Tea Tree, Chamomile, Geranium, Lavender, Patchouli, and Sandalwood.

A common recipe is 1 drop of Lavender and 2 drops of Tea Tree in 1 teaspoon of carrier oil. Mix and apply with a cotton swab 3 times a day. Cover the spot with a bandage.

Back to school bugs

SCABIES

Scabies is caused by small mites that get under the skin and lay eggs which leads to skin irritation. The skin irritation can also develop into an infection.

Apply Tea Tree or Lavender to the affected area at least twice a day. Skin should clear up in a few days.

Adding Lavender to a bath will also help speed the healing process. Draw a warm bath and add about five drops of Lavender oil to the water. This will help soothe the skin and provide some relief from the itching.

Other oils to use include Peppermint, Clove and Rosemary.

Back to school bugs

ADHD

Over 2 million children have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), leading to extensive dosing of prescription medication to control symptoms. Parents are frustrated with medicating their young children, while teachers struggle with the growing number of cases, and worry about the demands placed on the classroom environment.

Essential oils considered helpful for ADHD are Clary Sage, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Lavender, Rosemary, Peppermint, Lemon, Vetiver, Ylang Ylang.

Back to school bugs

INSOMNIA/ANXIETY

Adequate sleep is also vital for attention and focus. The body obviously needs sleep to build up its energy for the next day, but this is also a time of significant repair. Keep the bedroom a dark and comfortable sleep sanctuary. If your child wants a night light, try to turn it off once they are asleep. Keep electronic gadgets such as televisions and video games outside of the bedroom, as they can become major sleep disruptions.

teddy bear with eo

Here’s a neat trick my sister Dori does with her kids: place several drops of Lavender essential oil onto your child’s favorite stuffed animal and when they snuggle with it in bed they will soon be drifting off to dreamland….naturally.

What essential oils do I use?
Have a question about essential oils? Curious about what brand of essential oils I prefer? Find the answers in my Essential Oils FAQ!

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Natural Remedies

  • Wow, as a former elementary school teacher I never saw some if those things, but had plenty of colds and strep every year.

    Another help with ADD and ADHD is to watch their nutrition. Boost their protein and Omega 3 intake as both are know to help w brain function and mental clarity. Then limit /avoid simple carbs – which cause blood sugar spikes and drops – impacting brain function, as well as behavior, in a negative way. This is true for everyone, but especially kids who have trouble focusing anyway – as my youngest does.

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    and it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I wish to suggest
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  • As a teacher, every year “Back to School” allergies are a problem. During summer vacation A/C & heater vents are not run & therefore accumulate all kinds of things. Also dust builds up and the air can be stagnant. I use the Spark Naturals LLP Blend (or equal parts Lavender, Lemon & Peppermint). It is a very effective antihistamine, anti-fungal, anti-microbial. All it takes is a dab under the ears when symptoms appear.

  • Another great treatment is plain ole mayo. Saturate head with mayo, put on a shower cap, leave on for a couple of hours. It smothers the nits and lice. Comb out well. Olive oil can be used as a preventative as well. Saturate head, place a shower cap on, let sit for a couple of hours, wash. Another thing that will really work, but is difficult to remove, is Vaseline. My nieces were staying with us and kept bringing it home from school. Vaseline did Tue trick, but it took DAYS to remove. They didn’t get infected again that year!

  • My 3 daughters taught me about head lice, more than I wanted to know! Best and cheapest way: with child bending over the bathtub, brush the hair down and put loads of the cheapest conditioner on the hair. (Conditioner effectively immobilises the bugs.) Using a fine-tooth nit comb, comb through small sections of the hair from scalp to end very methodically. Flick the accumulated conditioner off into the tub with each stroke of the comb; you’ll see little black specks which are the lice. Rinse, then shampoo with a tea-tree shampoo. Do this religiously for 9 days, which is the life cycle of the louse. Tips: short hairstyles are easiest when treating lice; keep hair contained in a ponytail or braids to minimise the chance of spreading (best if all schoolchildren can be persuaded to do this); check regularly for lice and notify the principal if you find them. Happy hunting!

  • It is also common for new teachers to catch something that will knock them off their feet for a week or so. As a former new teacher, I remember being hit so hard, I had to go home in the middle of the day. It took everything I had to go to the washroom. I was just that beat up with some kind of virus. The next 37 years went well.

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