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All About Hair For SHTF: Lice, Ticks, Mange, and More

Avatar for Samantha Biggers Samantha Biggers  |  Updated: July 1, 2019
All About Hair For SHTF: Lice, Ticks, Mange, and More

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I know that a lot of people could care less about hair most of the time and most of the time that is okay but during a long emergency, hair hygiene becomes more of an issue due to the increased levels of nasty stuff like lice, ticks, and manage.

In this post I will talk about the challenges faced and things you can do to prepare to keep you and your family free of hair related parasites and skin conditions. I will suggest some mainstream products you can buy and some methods for using more natural means to control or treat issues as they arise.

Long hair vs Shorter Hair

Those that like to keep their hair long will have to be extra careful with it during a long emergency. Longer hair requires more care, and it provides more living environment and is an easy access ladder for parasites to make their home in.

I live in a Southern climate and some years are quite bad for ticks. A tick can hide more easily in long hair and they have an easy way to climb to your scalp or neck and then embed themselves. You can help prevent this by keeping hair in a low bun or knot and wearing a hat.

Hats are an excellent way to create a barrier from parasites no matter what length hair you have.

Short hair is easily covered with a hat and if anything finds its way to your scalp it is easier to see and takes less treatment than someone with 18 inch hair. Hats are still very helpful at preventing nasty things from reaching your scalp if you have long hair.

Seasonal hair solutions

Some people choose to let their hair grow longer during the colder months and cut it shorter in the Spring or Summer. This helps keep you cooler when doing tasks.

I live in a rural area with an extremely high proportion of bearded men. When hot weather hits, those beards get shorter and if anyone mentions it to one of them they will just tell you that the ticks are out! I have definitely had to do more haircuts and beard trimmings for men in the family during Spring than any other time.

Daily combing helps

If you comb your hair at the end of every day, it can prevent problems from occurring. A fine tooth comb or good brushing will eliminate ticks and other nasties that may be making their way to your skin. If you choose to keep long hair during a SHTF scenario, it may be hard to remember or even find the time to do this but you should when you can.

Plastic Combs

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A big pack of cheap plastic combs is not a bad trade item and it will allow you to have a higher level of hygiene. This 144 pack is under $13. No, they are not fancy but they are useful and inexpensive prep.


Those reading this that have kids probably know all about the fear factor when a school releases a notice that there is a lice outbreak. Sometimes the incident may be isolated but the fact remains that anywhere you get a bunch of people coming together in a given place, lice can happen.

There are many ways to get rid of lice. The typical way nowadays is to use Nix or RID. This product line comes in spray and shampoo form and it is available over the counter. This is not a bad thing to have in your preps just in case. Even a few extras may not be a bad idea because it is a medical supply that could have value during a long emergency.

Keep in mind that it is recommended that if one person gets lice, then the whole household should be treated. Unfortunately, by the time it is noticed that one member has it, someone else often does too!

RID Lice Treatment Complete Kit

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This kit contains a variety of products to treat hair and home. You get a special comb and spray for removing any dead lice or those left over after shampooing. You may need two of these kits if you have a moderate to large family. RID spray also treats for bedbugs and dust mites.

Wash all bedding and pillows

Linens and bedding must be washed well. Lice in hair can lead to a lot of work, especially when hot water and washing may be hard to do. This is one reason why prevention is so important when it comes to parasites and conditions of the hair and skin.

If you use the cheap $5 pillows then you might consider just spraying good and not washing because they tend to not handle washing that well.

Anti Lice Spray can help rid rooms and other areas of lice. If you want to be very careful then clean rooms thoroughly and then spray lice killing spray.

Natural Methods

Shower caps are something that should be in your preps. I recommend the cheap hair processing caps sold at beauty supply stores. I buy these 30 or 100 at a time for using when I want to condition my hair or use henna. The other use I have is to treat and prevent the spread of lice, ticks, or bugs, during a long emergency.

The caps can also prevent parasites from spreading if it is discovered that someone in the home is infected.

Most doctors would say that everyone still needs to be treated at once but that is a personal choice for you to make for your family.

Diatomaceous Earth

One of the many uses of diatomaceous earth is to get rid of fleas, ticks, and lice. Place a disposable shower or processing cap partially on the head of the person to be treated and then pour ¼ cup of diatomaceous earth into the cap. Put the cap on securely and kind of shake things up a bit so that the head and hair are coated in diatomaceous earth. Leave the cap on for an hour at least.

You will need to shampoo hair well after treatment. The dusty nature of diatomaceous earth makes it something you definitely don’t want to get in your eyes so you will want to go straight from treatment to wash to avoid this.

Soaps to prevent and treat

Tea Tree or Peppermint Dr. Bronners Castille Soap. I recommend a blend of 50-50 of the two Dr. Bronners

The alternative is to add a few drops of tea tree and peppermint essential oil to what soap you have on hand. Don’t skimp on the soap either. You want your hair very soap so that it is as effective as possible.

Lather well and wait 5-10 minutes before rinsing.

Dangers of ticks, lice, and parasites

Ticks carry Lyme Disease and that can be deadly or very serious. There are people right now that are severely weakened at times because they had Lyme Disease. You may never be 100% of what you were.

If a tick becomes embedded you need to make a note of the day and count 10 days after and see if any symptoms occur.

Doxycycline can save your life if you get Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Doxycycline is available as “fish antibiotics” and will treat Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever if someone shows symptoms. Don’t delay treatment especially in kids and elderly. Tick related illness is on the rise and at least part of the reason for this is that doctors in many regions are not trained to recognize it or consider it because it mimics other conditions and is usually not the most likely.

Lice and fleas lead to itching and scratching that opens the skin up and makes it prime for infection.

Even if you have a lot of antibiotics on hand, they are precious during a SHTF scenario. It is best to only take antibiotics when absolutely necessary so again, prevention is so important. I know that when I have had to take strong antibiotics like Cephelexin it has made me feel pretty out of it which means I was not at my best when doing tasks. If SHTF you want to be on top of your game as much as possible.

Scabies or sarcoptic mange

In my region this is sometimes called “The Itch”. Scabies are caused by microscopic parasites that burrow into the skin. Although they are often found first on hands or other body parts that most commonly come into contact with others, they can make their way to your scalp and burrow in. This leads to intense itching, red bumps, and rash.

Scabies is very easy to get. All it takes is touching someone’s hand that has it. This is one of the reasons it is so rampant in schools and nursing homes.

Tea Tree Oil can be used to kill the parasites but it cannot reach any eggs that may exist under the skin.

If left untreated, scratches can lead to infection and the constant scratching of hair can lead to hair loss.

Permethrin cream is often prescribed to treat scabies. Neem oil has also been found to be effective. There are various neem based soaps and sulfur creams available.

If someone gets scabies you definitely need to check and treat everyone that the person has come into contact with in the home. It is incredibly contagious so the sooner you deal with it the better.

On other body hair

Ok so your head is not the only place that hair grows. If you have access to razors and some water, you may want to consider removing some of the extra hair on your body occasionally to prevent any of the conditions discussed in this article. The more hair the more living environment for pests.

Some people are hairier than others so keeping things trimmed may be more of a concern for some than others.

Learning how to cut hair

I have went to a professional hair cutter once in the last decade and that was just because I was on vacation and got bored. Matt and I do all of our own hair care and cuts at home. For him we keep an electric razor style kit that has attachments to cut hair various lengths. For a lot of men this is all they really need. If you like things to be a little more fashionable then you can use different length combs on the top or bottom.

I use scissors and a razor comb on myself but I think that Matt will be doing any future major haircuts for me because the last time I needed a trim I showed him a picture and he did it exactly like I asked which is not something I can always say happens at a professional salon regardless of how much you pay.

Unfortunately while I do offer hair cuts to him and my Dad, I am really not that good at it but I am getting better. I have did a lot of haircuts but that doesn’t mean they were good ones.

Hair Cutting Kit

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Cordless USB Chargeable Hair Trimmer

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I am including a hair clipper that can be charged via USB because I know a lot of you have small power centers or alternative power. Of course this would be useless fast if you have no way to charge the clippers but if you have something like a small Jackery power center or other way to charge small devices, something like this could be handy to have.

Helpful items to have on hand

Other good practices

Do checks for lice and parasites

The sooner a problem is dealt with the better. Parents should keep a close eye on kids hair and skin during hard times. Brushing hair can be a soothing thing for some children so it doesn’t have to be like you are “inspecting them” formally. You just need to be more observant than you would normally be.

Natural Essential Oil Solutions

I took Gaye’s advice and got a copy of The Guide to Essential Oils and Aromatherapy”. If you do not have a copy of that book already in your preps, I advise getting one ASAP. This is a great book to add to your prepper library and it doesn’t have a bunch of garbage and crackpot ideas in it like some of the essential oil books and articles do.

The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy

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If you have just one book on essential oils in your prepper library, this is the one you should have.

Lice Deterrent Essential Oils

Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Lemon, and Lavender

-Valerie Ann Worwood

Put a stop to any name calling or anyone making fun of an affected person

There is a stigma attached to getting lice, scabies, ect. If someone makes fun of another for this then you need to stop that behavior immediately especially with children. The last thing you want is to create an atmosphere where people are afraid to bring up medical issues out of fear of bullying, ridicule, and shame. Hiding any health condition is a terrible idea in a long emergency and often leads to something harder to treat or something that spreads to the rest of the group

Try to pin point the original source of the problem

It may be impossible to actually tell where somebody picked up lice, ticks, scabies, etc but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to figure it out and avoid the circumstances again.

Watch out for reinfestation

Even if you think you really knocked out the problem and scrubbed everything well, there is a chance you missed something or that someone has contact with somebody or goes to a certain area again. The sooner you see the problem start to resurface, the easier it is going to be to be rid of it once and for all.

Do you have any natural remedies for hair related issues? Any experiences you would like to share? Did I leave out anything that you think should be included?

Samantha Biggers can be reached at [email protected].

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4 Responses to “All About Hair For SHTF: Lice, Ticks, Mange, and More”

  1. diatomaceous earth kills bugs by abrading the exoskeleton and allowing the moisture in the bug’s body to evaporate. the bug eventually dies of dehydration, but that can take up to 48 hours. given that, i doubt that applying d.e. to the hair and immediately washing it out would be very effective. but, then, i’ve never tried it; has it worked for you?

    • I’m with you, Nancy. I’d leave it in for a day, wash, and retreat, doing that several times over the course several days. Then you would likely need to retreat within a few days, repeating several times. I am basing this on treating for fleas, because you could still have nits (eggs) that could hatch. It’s not a quick fix, but I could see it being effective so long as one is diligent about treatment.

      And don’t forget the importance of those nit combs that come in treatment kits (I suppose one could also use a flea comb as well), to help get rid of the eggs.

  2. Them fancy haircuts we wore in the military wasn’t for style points lol. Kept the critters down, easier to find and/or treat plus it made hygiene a snap, keeps equipment from getting caught up and helped when in fights.

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