October 18th, 2011

Lice Suck: Everything You Need to Know About Head Lice

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Everything You Need to Know About Head Lice

It happened. Remember, I said it was inevitable? Last week was a doozy:  we had to combat head lice.  I am happy to report that we are now lice free and probably have the cleanest carpets and bedding around. But it wasn’t easy.

There’s no question that lice are creepy and annoying, but they’re not harmful. They also don’t discriminate.  They claim the scalps of school age children in the US, just as they do in France.  I still managed to slip into full panic mode once the discovery was made. I wasn’t prepared and felt helpless and vulnerable.

Based on my completely irrational reaction I’ve decided to pass along to you what I’ve learned from my lice adventure. Hopefully, this will help you be better prepared for the inevitable.

How do you know when you have lice?

You will know. You might see little bugs.  There might be a very itchy scalp, although not everyone itches since itching is actually an allergic reaction to the louses saliva. If you want to know what you are looking for just Google lice!

How do you know if there are nits?

Nits are lice eggs and look like tiny yellow, tan, or brown dots before they hatch. Nits look sort of like dandruff, only they can’t be removed by brushing or shaking them off.

Are you scratching your head yet?

What NOT to do once you discover you have lice

  • Don’t panic
  • Don’t buy every over–the-counter remedy like I did. I spent a lot of money and they didn’t work.

What you SHOULD do when you have lice

  • Buy The LiceMeister® Comb. Buy one NOW-before you have lice. When they do decide to show up you will be armed. This comb works.
  • If you must use products (we didn’t), only use non-toxic and pesticide free products.
  • Call a nitpicker to help comb through the hair. It’s a big investment so you need to decide if it’s worth it.  I was very overwhelmed when we discovered all 5 of us had lice. This was the route we chose since we couldn’t imagine combing through each person’s hair (it literally takes hours).
  • If you don’t want to make the nitpicker investment, buzz off the hair so that it’s under 1/8th of an inch. We will be choosing this option if there’s a next time.

How to get rid of them

  • All towels, bedding, stuffed animals, hats and anything else that may have come in contact with our heads was placed in the dryer (on high heat) for 30-40 minutes.
  • All carpets and upholstered furniture were thoroughly vacuumed.
  • Scan through the hair with your eyes and look for nits. Pull them out (ewww, but necessary). Use your LiceMeister comb to help pull them out.
  • After the hair has been combed through and there are no nits or bugs, grab a bottle of olive oil. Using olive oil suffocates and smothers any remaining lice. We applied olive oil to our hair that night and slept with it.  We combed our hair out in the morning with The LiceMeister® Comband then washed the out the olive oil.

Follow-up

Continue to comb through everyone’s hair daily and continue to do so for the next few weeks. Use the olive oil treatments every few days and keep checking.  My guess is that I will comb thorough our hair every few days throughout the year.

Lice facts

  • Blow dryer heat isn’t hot enough to kill them.
  • The pesticide laden treatments filled with toxic chemicals and the all natural treatments probably won’t work.
  • Lice can’t jump from head to head. They spread by direct contact.

Be diligent and check those heads. Any other tricks for lice removal?

Disclaimer: This is my opinion and this is what worked for us. I am not a medical professional nor do I play one on TV. Please seek medical attention if you discover you have lice.

Disclosure: There is an Amazon Affiliate link in this post. If you use it to buy a product it will place a few pennies in my pocket. Thanks!

[Photo used under Creative Commons from D. Sharon Pruitt/Flickr]

22 Responses to “Lice Suck: Everything You Need to Know About Head Lice”

  1. I still love our RobiComb. Zapped those bugs without hurting my daughter. We’ve since used it to check to see if the other kids have lice. I totally agree that the over the counter stuff doesn’t work. It’s all about nit picking and smothering. Once you’ve had lice you always worry about having it again. The good news is that after your child gets it a couple of times you start to calm down about the whole thing. Not sure if that is good news but it’s all I have after my daughter has had it 2x in 6 weeks!

  2. Yep – I’m feeling itchy after reading your post Lori! Luckily, I do have the lice comb in my bathroom closet. Haven’t had to use it yet thankfully but at least I’m somewhat prepared. Like you said, it’s inevitable!

  3. My greatest fear! Ugh- my preschooler hasn’t brought it home yet, but I’m sure someday. Thanks for sharing all the tips.

  4. You can also call Ladibugs in the Twin Cities, MN. They have a natural way to tackle lice, too.

  5. Oh man girl. YUCK – big time! I would totally freak too and am bookmarking your post just incase. Blagh! Congrats on getting through it tho – no fun. Our cat once brought in fleas and that just about threw me over the edge too! Creepy crawly icky icks.

  6. As always, hope for the best, but be prepared. Thanks for sharing your story. I think it helps take away the stigma that still seems to linger. Glad you’re all over it!!

  7. We had a potential lice scare last week, my daughter’s friend’s mom called me the day after our kids had a play date. Her daughter had picked up lice, so I should check my girl. There was NOTHING – but! I wasn’t going to take a chance! I put her in the tub and soaked her hair in a vinegar/apple cider vinegar mix for 10 minutes. Then I washed it out with shampoo mixed with tea tree oil. Then I put on melted coconut oil. Let sit for 5 minutes. Wash with shampoo & tea tree oil again. Then I put conditioner on. Then I blew her hair dry, then I flat ironed it. When I was all done she looked in the mirror at her very straight very shiny hair and said wow we should do this more often! Next day I went out & bought that comb you recommended & did the same procedure all over again. This time I ran the comb through it as well. After 3 nights of this I declared her absolutely lice free, if ever there was one to begin with. *whew*! Glad to hear you are all pest free! No fun at all!

  8. Hi Micaela-we made it 11 years with no lice! The comb is the best thing to have on hand-just in case! Hopefully you won’t have to use it.

  9. Hi Chelsey-it was a big fear for me too. Somehow you get through it. My kids kept reminding me that they’re not dangerous, just itchy. I don’t remember getting lice notices in preschool-I think elementary school seems to be when it really hits. Hopefully you will avoid it 🙂

  10. I think your right Stefanie-the first time is shocking. If it happens again I feel better prepared. I have to check out the RobiComb. I’m not sure how it works? Hopefully you’ve met quota over there and the lice will stay far away!

  11. Thanks Kris for the Ladibug connection for folks in MN. It’s good to have those numbers ready if and when lice hit.

  12. Big time YUCK Lynn! I think fleas would throw me over the edge too. Maybe we should live in a bubble 🙂

  13. No time for stigma when it comes to lice Amity! It’s interesting once you mention lice how many people share their stories. Hopefully people will talk about it because it’s part of life with small children. We can all learn from each other!

  14. I would have done the same thing Helga. Better to be safe. I like the idea of vinegar and coconut oil. Your daughter had a full salon experience right at home! I’m sure she looked beautiful :). Glad the lice stayed away. No fun at all!

  15. I read that the Lavender essential oil is a good natural repelent for lice, even for thiks and fleas on dogs. I use it for my dogs and it’s really works. And monthly I put it directly with some light oil (almond) in my dauther’s hair and at the same time gives a good fragance too. I’m using it for two years and my house is free of lice, thiks and fleas. May be you could try and tell me if works for you. This is my recomendation. And I have to give excuse, my english is not to good but I’m learnig.

  16. Thanks for the tip Rosalyn! Lavender oil smells so much better than tea tree oil. My kids complain when I spray tea tree oil into their hair. Maybe they’ll be OK with Lavender. I’ll give it a try. Your English is perfect 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

  17. Wow, congratulations on living to tell the tale, and not resorting to harsh chemicals (which I think is hard to resist when pests are involved).

  18. Thanks Betsy. It was pretty awful. I was ready to use anything and everything to make them go away. My husband talked me off the ledge and I’m glad he did.

  19. I would have gone into full panic mode as well! We have been very fortuanate to avoid lice in our home(my boys are both teens), but I always feel bad when I hear others having to deal with them. But YAY to a super clean home!

  20. Thanks for making me feel better Cathy. I was surprised at the level of panic I was feeling 🙂 Glad you avoided lice-I think it’s much more prevalent when the kids are little and all over each other. Yes, my house is sparkling-one good thing came from all of this!

  21. I feel your pain! We dealt with lice 3 years ago. We were that family that had to make the call to the preschool telling them we had lice! Not fun. I felt so badly for my daughter. She had been itching like crazy. I was checking her head but really didn’t know what I was looking for so I missed it for a while. Now I know! I freaked at first too then luckily calmed down. We did a similar treatment although instead of olive oil we used Cetaphil liquid cleanser. There is a whole process on http://www.nuvoforheadlice.com/ which I got from my pediatrician. The site does a great job of explaining lice so you don’t freak out so much! Much of which you mention here. We were lucky in that only my youngest daughter had it really badly. My older daughter got lice too, but I was checking everyone so often that we caught it right away. We are checking all the time again now since there was a case in my older daughters’ class a couple of weeks ago.
    Kudos to your husband for talking you down!

  22. Hey Kristina! Hopefully you met your lice quota three years ago. I have heard about the treatment using Cetaphil. Good to know that it works. I think a big piece of the problem is that most of us don’t have any idea what we are looking for. By the time we figure it out it’s a bag case of lice. Hopefully by talking about it and getting the information out there people will do regular head checks and the problem will be caught in its early stages. I have a feeling I’ll be checking until they go to college!

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, writer, mom of three boys and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. Join me as we work together to make the world a safer place for all.

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