Oh, lice. How I really dislike you. (I would like to say I hate lice, but I’m trying to teach my daughter not to use the word hate and I try very hard to not feel hate towards anything, even lice. Because even lice had something good to teach me. But oh, lice, you tempt me.)
If you have just discovered lice on your kid and you need to know what to do ASAP, scroll to bottom of this post for a fast, grab and go summary of what to do. And may the force be with you. 🙂
There are a ton of natural home remedies for lice online and it’s hard to tell what will work to get rid of lice. Have no fear, I’ve waded through all the suggestions in the world and THIS is what works.
First, the story. We were visiting a friend of mine I’ve known since I was 10. I was so excited to meet her new baby and get lots of baby snuggles in. That got shot to you know where… because that is when I discovered my 5 year old daughter had LICE.
When I first noticed the huge, live bug on her head, I picked it out and thought, That’s weird, what the heck is that? Lice never even entered my mind. My friend, a 3rd grade teacher, knew better and immediately asked, “Is that lice?”
I looked at her with a look that said “Don’t you even speak those words to me!” but within seconds she had pulled up images of lice from good ‘ole Google on her phone.
Sure enough, it was lice.
I felt momentarily sick. Like I was literally going to pass out. I had to sit down. Waves of pure panic and dread entered my body from head to toe.
My mind reeled. How did she get it? Where is it from? How did I not notice it before? Three years of preschool, at least that many times other kids had it in her class. We escaped unscathed every year. I would go bananas with checking and keeping her hair up and using preventative sprays. Over my dead body was my kid gonna get lice. Oh, no. Not in my house. I triumphantly bragged to my friends that we had escaped it like I was the lice whisperer and could add it to my resume.
Don’t you just love it when life serves you up a mega serving of humble pie? Sigh.
Once I figured it out that the huge, gross looking bug was in fact lice, Operation Kill Those Mofos was on like donkey kong.
This is what I did.
After a good hour or two of sheer panic and phone calling (did I mention we were on vacation?), I pulled myself together and created a plan.
I called Lice Doctors to schedule them to come to my friend’s house for a treatment. This was very expensive. Like more than $30o expensive. If you are home and have a little bit more time, you should be able to find a much cheaper, just as effective, professional nit picker to come to your house (or go to their place of business – like in Tallahassee there is an amazing business called Buggin’ Out Lice Treatment).
But they were effective. She spent an hour on my daughter and an hour on me. She was extremely thorough and being able to watch a professional comb through my child’s hair was honestly worth the money. Watching her work and seeing the proper methods of combing allowed me to do the daily lice checks correctly, and will help me teach the parents I come in contact with while teaching preschool.
She dumped olive oil on our heads and combed out the bugs and nits. That’s it. The oil suffocates and immobilizes the bugs and makes it easier to comb through the hair. There is nothing on the market that you can put on hair, let it sit, wash it out, and expect to be done. You have to comb.
Then for the next three nights, I did the same thing on both our heads. For the following two nights, I still found a couple of nits in both our heads – this is normal.
By the fourth day, we were back in Tallahassee and I went to Buggin’ Out Lice Treatment to get another professional check. $40 this time. There were a couple in my hair, but my daughter was in the clear. Again, pretty normal since it’s really hard to get all the nits in one treatment/comb through. Plus my hair is crazy thick. Like really, really thick. Like horsetail thick. Like hair stylists groan when they see me coming, because it takes forever to do my hair. So my hair is like the Taj Mahal for lice to set up camp.
When we got home, the laundry and vacuuming began. I have never been so tired in my life. I washed ALL the things. We are renting right now and have an old washer and dryer with no sanitary setting, so I was boiling pots of water for each load to make sure they got to the needed 130 degrees to kill the bugs. Technically it was not needed, since we were on a trip and by the time we came back they were all dead. Lice can only live 24 to 36 hours on something that is not a scalp. But there was no way my OCD brain could handle the thought of a dead bug on anything, hence the washing of ALL the things.
The next day my Fairy Tales treatment, shampoo, conditioner and preventative spray arrived. We started using the shampoo and conditioner and preventative spray immediately and then over the second week I used their treatment foam on my daughter.
In the third week, we continue to check daily. Once we were past the three week mark, no more daily checks and moved onto weekly checks.
Facts to know about lice:
– They do not come from animals nor will they be attracted to animal hair, they are a HUMAN parasite only.
– Lice has been around forever, but it’s becoming a big problem these days for two reasons. One, they are becoming resistant to the chemical applications used over the years (just like antibiotic overuse and antibacterial hand soap is making viruses stronger and more resistant) and and two, some public schools have dropped their no-nit policy and are only sending kids home when a live, adult bug is seen and allowing the kid to stay if they have eggs.
– It takes 8 to 12 days for one nit to hatch.
– And adult female louse (plural for lice) can lay 6 nits (eggs) a day.
– They do not jump or fly. The only way to get them is from HEAD to HEAD contact, meaning sharing hats and accessories and from pillows/sheets. But they move FAST! It only takes a second of head to head contact for them to make a move.
– They will die on hats and pillows and other non-scalp things in 24 to 36 hours. They need the blood from the scalp to live. Again, they are parasites.
– To wash sheets and kill live bugs and nits, water temperature needs to reach 130 degrees. If your washer machine does not go that high, you have two options. Turn the temperature up on your water heater to try and get hotter water in that way, or boil a pot of water and add it to every load (fun times!).
– You must check/comb EVERY DAY for 21 days. No ifs, ands or buts about it. All it takes is one nit to totally throw you back to square one again. Do not let your guard down for one moment and let those little nits win.
– Once you are lice free, remember that lice are now more attracted to your hair. It’s like they leave a scent on your hair and the other lice want to check it out. Like a dog who wants to pee on another dogs pee during a walk. So you must spray preventative spray in your hair every day. Erryday.
– Kids who go to school should wear their hair up everyday. Period.
– Teach your kid not to share hats, brushes, etc.
Other articles to check out:
Natural Lice Treatment Plan of Attack:
– Hire a nit picker or be ready to do a heavy duty, hardcore, initial treatment yourself.
– Buy all the right supplies. You will need the Terminator comb (anything else is a joke), a huge thing of cheap olive oil, shower caps, paper towels, old towels, and lots of patience.
– Pour olive oil on your kid’s head and comb through. This should take you an hour. Comb the hair into sections and comb through each section of hair in all four directions (eggs can be on any side of hair shaft and you will need a pass through on all four sides of the hair shaft to be sure they are caught).
– Wipe the comb on a wet paper towel so you can clearly see what is on it. The olive oil suffocates and traps the lice so they are not going to crawl off your towel, but still immediately bag up the trash bag when you are done and throw it out.
– Wash and dry hair (heat helps kill them too).
– Do another comb through and see if you missed any.
– Pour more olive oil on your child’s hair, put a shower cap on, and keep it on till the next morning.
– Do another come through the following morning and then wash out the olive oil. You may need to add a bit of dish soap to your regular shampoo to cut the oil.
– Do the whole process again, every night for 6 nights, (I honestly only did 3 nights but I had a professional double check after those three nights to see if we had missed any.)
– For the next two weeks, comb/check dry hair daily to see if you missed any nits and/or nits you missed have hatched.
– Spray hair with preventative spray several times a day.
– Wash hair with preventative shampoo and conditioner.
– Do as many nightly olive oil treatments as you want. By the second week, every third day would be extremely vigilant. By the end of three weeks, you are good to go. I also did one treatment of the Fairy Tales treatment in lieu of olive oil one night, mostly just to try it out. I think it works the same as olive oil.
– Post lice trauma, instill a routine, periodic comb/check of your kids and self, knowing they are easier to catch from here on out. And hopefully so you catch them before it’s a huge infestation. It should just become a part of your routine if you have a preschool or school-aged child. Teenagers are getting them more often nowadays, some say it’s from all the head to head contact happening group selfie shots. LOL.
Take a deep breath. You got this. Everything is going to be fine.