As a parent, there are many things that we don’t talk about outside of the household. However, that’s a mistake, because then other parents are isolated and have to deal with whatever taboo topic is affecting them.
My topic of the day is not quite so heavy as some, but seemingly taboo all the same – – head lice – – you know, those critters that your young children bring home from school that never seem to have an origin? *shudder* My head itches just thinking about them.
*I don’t have any personal pictures because the whole process just puts one off from taking pics!*
Why is this topic so taboo, when those of use who have had to deal with it can pass critical knowledge on eradicating those little bugs out of the home? Head lice do not care about our social status, how many times we wash, how clean our houses are, rather, they grab on to any little strand of hair they can and get to laying those tiny eggs! Did you know that families HIRE people to come in and deal with the problem and they can charge $50+ an hour??? Sometimes, I wonder if this is where I should devote my time – then I remember that I really don’t like little crawlers!
Not only was I subject to the invasion of these critters in my youth, once from school, and another from a plane ride (take a lint roller with you!), this little pest has run through my household a couple of times, and I have eradicated it over a 2-day period with 100% success…until my children get it from somewhere yet again…
Yesterday, my sister called to say that a friend of hers was dealing with this for the first time ever, and since I’ve recently had a bout in my household, she contacted me for advice, and there is just so much that needs to be done in a short amount of time that I couldn’t think of it clearly at the moment. Today, I want to share with you the steps to my success, in hopes that you can be as successful in your own household with minimal money spent.
- Get a comb from the brand Fairy Tales. This comb (no $ to me, sadly) is FABULOUS…I wish they would pay me for saying this, but I’ve had one for over 5 years and it is great to have on hand. I recently had to purchase another one because my old one was misplaced. Once I find it, it will probably travel with me. My recent purchase was around $16, but believe me, it is TOTALLY WORTH IT! – – Not only does it work miracles in getting the nits (eggs) out, you could also use it after an oil treatment to help get dandruff (for my son) of softened thick skin (like cradle cap spots in older kids) out. Additionally, if you are the mom, then you will probably get lice at some point, and this comb is helpful and reliable when you have to go through your own hair!
- Understand the way lice works. I’m not an “expert,” in this, but I go by my research and experience. Once your kid gets lice, then you need to get the live bugs out (if there are any – sometimes they “lay and move”), then make sure that you get all the eggs out, since they have up to 2 weeks to hatch (depending on when they were laid) before the cycle starts up again.
- Put coconut oil (or mayonnaise – depending on who you talk to) on the hair and wrap it with a plastic bag. I use saved grocery bags. I like to leave this on for a while because it helps to soften the nits so that they are easier to pick from the hair. They are kept on by some sort of insect goo, and this works wonders to help. I just keep the heads wrapped (around the hair only) until I’m ready to deal with them – after the cleaning. – – You could put on some commercial killing product, but I like to avoid those if possible, plus I don’t really have them on hand!
- Super Clean! These steps should be done about the same time – before you go through the kid’s hair! Not only do you need to get the little critters out of your kid’s hair, you need to make sure that everything is super clean so that you don’t get old hair follicles with a stray egg on anyone to start the process anew. THINK ABOUT WHERE YOUR KIDS HAVE BEEN MOST RECENTLY.
- Put most toys in a closet/plastic bags and quarantine them for 2 weeks – this is because of the 2-week hatching cycle.
- Pick up all the bedding from the 4 corners and launder EVERYTHING on HOT!!!
- Pillows – you can just launder the cases, or the whole thing with other stuffed animals – if it can’t survive a washing, it can’t reside in my house! Ha!
- Launder the clothes that are lying around. My son has a habit of taking everything out of his dresser, so EVERYTHING had to be rewashed, regardless of “clean” status…
- You will be doing laundry all weekend – make peace with this…
- Vacuum EVERYTHING: Floor, mattress (before using clean bedding), couches, chairs, car/car seats
- You can use lint rollers to help with this process, or to follow up
- You can take couch pillows and vacuum, wash, or hide them for 2-weeks.
- Wipe down slick surfaces with a damp rag: car head rest areas, leather couches, dining chairs, etc…
- Collect Hair products: brushes, combs, pins, hair bands, etc., and clean them! You can soak things in a bleach solution for a couple of hours, run brushes through the dishwasher (take out as much hair as possible first), soak or scrub the rest in regular water over night if you have to. I like to make sure a clean comb is used for the removal process – run it through hot water and clean it with dish soap.
- Decide if you want your kids to keep their hair – I’ve shaved the head of my boys when they were younger, and cut my daughter’s hair shoulder length to help the process. You need to make the best decision, but if your kid refuses to go along with the removal process, you may as well shave that head and save yourself HOURS of work and worry. IF you decide to go through the removal process, you have to run the lice comb from ROOT to TIP EVERY TIME to make sure the eggs come out. So long hair will take longer…Just something to think about.
- Prep your area for removal
- Have a table near by
- Use toilet paper sheets (2-3 square sections) to help clean the comb, so you want to have a pile of sheets to make things go faster
- A small plastic grocery bag to put the toilet paper trash (with eggs and live bugs on it so you can throw it away afterwards) and hair that comes out in the process
- A regular comb to take out tangles before running the lice comb through
- Bobby pins or hair clips – to keep “checked” hair separated from “unchecked” hair – you DON’T want them mixing.
- A shallow bowl of water and dry rag to occasionally clean the lice comb
- Removal – you will go through their hair several times in the next few days, but this first time is the longest
- It’s important that your child understands that he/she needs to sit still – I like to remind them that I could have shaved their hair and consider that I must love them very much to hurt my back while I go through the process!
- The oil will help the comb go through the hair as painlessly and smoothly as possible (hair can sometimes get caught in the metal).
- I like to start at the top and sides – pin back the sections that you won’t be going through, and also pin the sections you’ve already checked.
- Take time to go through EVERY SECTION of hair in fairly small sections. You will need to comb through the hair in at least 4 different directions because the eggs might be on the back, or side of the follicle, not the front. So you will stay in a section through several comb-throughs.
- Once you go through the hair once, take the lice comb and randomly go through the hair again in various locations to see if there were any stray eggs….if there are, then you need to spend time again in those particular sections.
- If you have more than one child to go through, I suggest you tie back the hair of the first, take a quick break (switch out laundry, vacuum, etc..) before starting on the next.
- Bathe your child, then wash hair with one shampoo cycle, then go through the hair again with the comb – it will still be oily. Don’t do a second cycle because the hair will still be nice and soft for when you go through their hair the next morning.
- Tie back or braid the hair if long enough before bedtime, and over the next week or so. Wash hair the next morning (after checking) or then next night (after the nightly check) and you still won’t need conditioner. Think of it as an annoying hair spa, as my daughter once consoled herself.
- I like to keep hair tied back for about a week or so after, especially at school.
- Teach your kids to not try on hats in the store, or use other people’s hair stuff – this is a real struggle!!!
- Travel with a lint roller/baby wipes to “clean” whatever strange things their head/hair may touch…I’d rather be thought of as compulsive than go through all that laundry again!
- Use a shampoo meant to deter the critters – fairy tales (really wish I could get paid for that!)has a line that I like, and it smells nice!
- Do weekly, or every 2-week comb throughs in your kid’s hair, especially during the winter months. Sometimes, you might miss something and one egg can start the process over again, but, If you can catch it early, then you don’t have quite as much of a struggle, and maybe a little less laundry.