Friday, March 16, 2012

How to Get Rid of Lice

This morning I found a handful of nits (lice eggs) in my daughter's hair. Yuk. Thankfully (or not?) we've been plagued with lice enough times that I've tried everything, and I have come down to two methods that work better than any of the others. The first couple times my kids were hit, I scoured the internet looking for remedies. I went with chemicals because I was freaked out and panicky, and wanted those nasty bugs dead and gone immediately. But as it turns out, the chemicals are expensive - and you'd think it would be worth it, but it's not because they don't work that well anyway. I tried oil (olive oil - never tried the mayonnaise method), but it also didn't work that well, and it's a big mess. Over time, and a lot of trial and error, I came up two methods that work EXTREMELY well. And the best part is, neither of them entail putting chemicals or greasy oils in your child's hair.

I wanted to put my experience out there for the world to see, especially those of you who might be having a first time lice encounter. First of all, don't panic. Lice are nasty, yes. They're a lot of work to clean up, yes. BUT they cannot live off the human head for more than a day or two, so you don't have to go cleaning rooms that your kids never go into, or washing their winter coats in the middle of June, or anything crazy like that.

I always keep a can of "lice killer" {this IS a chemical} to spray on the furniture, mattresses, etc. Spray the kids' mattresses in the morning after they leave for school, or if they're not in school, then maybe right after nap time, so it has plenty of time to work and then wear off before they sleep on it again. For the furniture and the rest of the house, spray at night right before you go to bed, and keep your pets away from it too. It's a good idea to vacuum everything up later to get rid of the dead stuff and the chemical residue.

Wash the kids' bedding in hot water, and throw pillows and stuffed animals from their beds into the dryer for an hour on high heat. I would also do this with any stuffed toys they've been playing with in the past week or so, especially if you have a massive infestation, which you probably do your first time. Another method is to put toys into plastic garbage bags and seal them off for a week. As I said before, lice can't live more than a couple days away from a human head, but I'd give it a week just to be extra safe.

And now for the hair. My two proven non-chemical, non-goopy-hair methods:
Method #1: Flat Iron {aka: Hair Straightener}. Chances are, you have one of these in your home already, and if you do, I encourage you to try this first, that way you won't have to go buy anything. Heat it up, and just start "straightening" ALL hair, getting as close to the scalp as possible without burning your child's head. Lice lay their eggs very close to the scalp, and you want to burn those buggers!

Method #2: Robi Comb. You can buy it at CVS, or probably any other drug store or pharmacy for about $30. And the great thing is, you only have to buy it once. You can use it on everyone in the family, and save til you need it again (which you hopefully won't, but it's nice to have it just in case). The end of it looks just like those little lice combs you get with the chemical treatments, but it's actually an electronic device that electrocutes the lice and kills them. The comb helps comb them out, and also kills the nits.

The flat iron works better on curly hair, since the Robi Comb's teeth are so very fine.

After either method, I would definitely spend time combing through your child's hair and hand-picking nits, just in case there are some stray live ones. I never had much luck with the nit combs, my fingernails work much better {gross, I know}. And re-check every day until you haven't found anything for several days in a row.

I've probably forgotten some important detail, because that's how my brain works. If you have any questions, leave me a comment. Hope this helps someone out there. Lice are horrible, and if you've never had them take over your home, count yourself very lucky.

Now- Whose head is itching?!


Feral Turtle said...

Yes my head is are nasty! What a great idea using the straightening iron. Having curly hair, I know how very hot they can get. I have never seen the electric comb. Ahh modern science! Thanks for sharing this information like the way kids share lice. lol

Lindsay said...

Thanks for the tips! I hope we won't need them, but soccer starts again on Monday and let's just say that sharing those goalie shirt things is a BAD idea! And, I did try the mayonnaise method -twice- and it didn't seem to do too much. Also, tea tree oil shampoo smells awful, but works well.

Unknown said...

Yes, Tea Tree shampoo is supposed to repel them, I guess they don't like the smell (it's a weird smell, but I don't think it's that bad). I have been using it myself for YEARS, and anytime we have a lice scare I make the kids use it. It's good for dry scalp too! :)

Niky Sayers said...

My daughter has beautiful long thick hair and when she gets them its a nightmear, The starighting irons work wonders but I also use the nitty gritty comb, its fantastic as it has really long teeth and it gets out the eggs too, well worth buying!

seven thirty three said...

My daughter came home from school with lice last september. It was AWFUL, disgusting, all that. Thankfully no one else got them, but I was constantly searching through her head picking them out - I'm OCD with this sort of stuff. Seriously, you can't pick enough! And flush the eggs, don't let them full in the rug, etc. I found two live ones too before we shampooed - those went down the toilet too. GOOD RIDDANCE!

We bought the shampoo kit that came with the shampoo, a gel used afterwards (don't just get the shampoo - this gel is a miracle worker) and a house spray. I used the gel for as many days as possible and then started using a hair gel at night too - helps show where you've been. I'm not kidding, I picked for a week and then a few extra days JUST TO BE SURE. Bedding was thorougly washed - ALL bedding, not just infected childs. They actually say that stuffed animals should be bagged for FOUR weeks now because of the life cycles.

We also had the Robi Comb. It was actually left over from when my younger sister had lice as a little girl - for SIX MONTHS. She was a foster child at the time and her birth mom wouldn't let my mom cut her butt length hair, and she has THICK hair and we just COULDN'T get rid of them. The robi comb helped tons (that and my mom said scr*w it and cut her hair to chin length).

I also just got a phone call from my SIL on Monday. Her daughter has lice... and she was at our house all day Sunday. You can bet your boots I've been searching ALL HEADS the last week. So far nothing, but I'll keep a look out for a few more days.

I HATE LICE! EWWW! Good luck!

Angela said...

I use Tea Tree oil to prevent their arrival, Alternatively you can use the essential oil of lavender. The smell is not bad and try not cost anything. Angela

Aliquea said...

A bit of an odd treatment that works that I was told by one of the healthcare workers @ the school who was there talking about lice. Was to saturate hair with Listerine, cover head with a plastic bag for an hour or longer then to clean the hair, you will see that live lice have turned white and died, and then use a lice comb and pick hair clean, get in the shower and wash your hair with Denorex Shampoo. My daughr got lice once in Kindergarten and this was the method I used and it worked great.

Kerryanne @ Shabby Art Boutique said...

Hi Jeannine,
We've had the dreaded nit problem on and off over the years and tried the chemical route too. Having 2 teenage daughters with long hair we've found the most effective way was removing the nits in the shower... really!! We wet the hair and pour a very generous amount of conditioner onto the hair (like a cup full). Then comb those lice and eggs out. The hair is so silky smooth from the conditioner that even the fine nit comb works through the curly hair. We do this for 3 days and never see them again. Amazingly this method always seems to work and no chemicals. Of course I also treat their bedding etc too.

Unknown said...

I feel your pain... my stepdaughter used to get it once/twice a year at her mom's house (there is always a ton of kids there playing) and then she would come home, we started checking her head every Saturday when she would come home to our house. I have used the hot iron before and it did work well following up with the store treatment and cleaning the house.

I did find a really awesome shampoo and conditioner that has tea tree oil and a few other natural repellants that made it so she has yet to come home with lice again in the last year, its called Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel Shampoo.. there is a line of this product with a shield to spray on her hair before she goes to school. Kids at her mom's have had it a few time since we started to use the shampoo but she still has yet to get it once.
(we sent a bottle of shampoo/conditioner to her mom's house when we got one for us)

I have never heard of the Robi comb, I will try that if we are ever infested again... I hope we aren't... lol.

Thank you for being so open on this subject, this is actually the first blog posting I have ever seen talking about lice. :) Have a wonderful day and hope you get those buggers gone soon :)

Lepa said...

ok so I found this tip on youtube and it worked so well I have stocked up on bottles of it for that "JUST IN CASE" I have two girls and with all their friends sleeping over my girls caught a bad case of it and I tried everything nothing worked it just kept coming back. Yes, its nasty and not something I want living in my babies hair. My girls were so miserable until I found LISTERINE... yup you read that right LISTERINE... omg it works so well... check on youtube if you don't believe me. I found a video of a father who was having such a hard time with lice and spending so much money on lice products that he did his internet homework and found this tip. He tried it and it worked. I have witnessed first hand that this is so true and it really works. I'm assuming that if its good enough to rinse our mouths out with I would think its safe for our kids scalps. All you do is spray LISTERINE in your kids hair and once hair is damp and wet with LISTERINE then you wrap their hair with a bag or shower cap. I usually did this at night so my child could sleep in it and then wake up and shower. You then comb the hair out with lice comb and discover the ok its not a funny matter but just try it it really works...

╰☆╮Sapphire Ray╰☆╮ said...

When I was little and I ended up with lice my mom used the vacuum cleaner and sucked them out of our scalps we had hair past our butts!! Sounds cruel I know but really wasn't then we washed our hair with vinegar which killed them as well!! Fingers crossed you don't have to deal with this again
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Angie said...

Tea tree oil and coconut shampoo.

Kristel said...

I think everyone's head is itching after reading your post...yikes! We had a scare a few weeks ago in my daughter's class, and honestly, I started feeling like my head was itching all the time...even made my hubby check for them...thankfully, it was all a false alarm. But I did research on it, and I never heard of your methods, but if we ever get them (please, god, no) then I will definitely try them out. Good luck.


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