Last year our family of five dealt with a lice outbreak that sidelined us for a good three weeks. Thankfully, my husband shaves his head so we didn’t have to deal with him but both me and my daughter have long hair so it was a lot of work to get us lice free. I had heard of other families who had dealt with this but it’s just one of those things you never think will happen to you…until it does. I’m actually glad, though, that we went through it–because we know what to look out for and how to prevent it from happening again. Here’s what I learned:
1. IT’S EASILY MISSED. One misconception I had was I thought lice was white colored. One day while I was preparing my daughter’s hair in a bun I noticed a brown fleck in her hair. I thought it was a piece of wood chip because at their school yard there are tons of woodchips in the playground. I thought nothing of it. Only later, when we noticed it in my three-year-old’s fine hair and connected it with the itching they were complaining of did we put two and two together and start inspecting them closely. It was a night of panic and horror to say the least.
I learned all about the life stages of lice and that they can range in color from white to yellow to brown, depending on the host’s hair color. The nits will hatch in 8 or 9 days so it’s important to kill all the adult lice (which look like sesame seeds) before they mate and lay eggs AND the nits before they hatch. More info here.
2. DON’T PANIC. So, that night, I rushed to the nearest Walgreens and paced the lice aisle, reading the backs of the boxes in utter confusion. I remember growing up people had used Rid so I thought that must work, right? I bought that. But it was expensive–and I was worried about the pesticides in it. Then there was this LiceGuard Robi comb that supposedly zaps the nits. Bought that. I rushed home and tried them out. These two purchases were the ones that I regretted later.
3. WHAT TO BUY. Later, when I calmed down and was able to do more research I realized that Rid IS actually very toxic and is just a first step measure. I would not use it again. I also tried to find home remedies online so I wouldn’t have to pay more for products. But some people said those didn’t work for them and I didn’t want to chance it. I wanted those buggers, GONE! Basically, the adult lice are easy to kill–it’s the nits that are the problem! They take the most time to find and pull out of the hair because nothing really kills them. The Robi comb I had only killed the adult lice.
The one thing the official lice website said that works is a really good nit comb. You can find The Nit Free Terminator Lice Comb online or the Ulta store in Paramus has the Fairy Tales brand one. This will pull out the most nits when you comb through your hair because it has little grooves in each tooth. It’s a pain to do it every day but if you manage to get all the nits out you can be sure that the problem will be solved soon.
I also like this spray called Lice Freee Spray. It’s non toxic and smells like licorice. This is the only product I found that claimed to kill the nits. I put it on before we combed through to find nits and I think it helped the nits come off the hair faster. Also, you WILL get lazy and not want to comb anymore after a few days. I used this product once a day and felt a little more peace of mind.
4. PREVENT. Now that I know how easy it is for kids to contract lice–they swing like Tarzan on the hair strands from one head to another, I try to tie my daughter’s hair back, not sleep head to head with them, wash linens frequently (lice die in hot water/hot air), and spray Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel Conditioning spray (I also bought this at Ulta) on their hair when I remember in the mornings.
This article also has more tips on how to deal with lice: Link here. As for house cleaning–they’re not like bed bugs (I can’t even imagine that scenario!) in that lice will not live off the head for long. So, just vacuum the sofa frequently and wash your bedding in hot water. I took mine to the local laundromat because I wasn’t sure my dryer was hot enough to kill them.
Also, if you don’t want to deal with this at all, you can go to Head to Head Lice Treatment Center in Hawthorne, NJ. Marta is a mom who had to deal with lice herself and decided to help others with this problem after the experience. It’s around $200 for any of these companies to guarantee your child is lice free. Basically, they will do your nitpicking for you. She offers:
- Professional Lice Removal Services
- Head Lice Screening
- All Natural Lice Treatment Products
- School/Camp Wide Head Checks
- Home Treatment Visits
- Delouse Your House Cleaning
Lice can be a major nuisance for your family. I hope that these tips will help you stay lice free and to not waste money or time if you do get it. If you have any further tips, please share below!