It is that time of year again… Leaves begin to change color, children rushing to school with heavy backpacks, homework and activities. They eat lunch together, play together, hug each other, and…. come home with lice. There is always the dreaded note, tucked into your child’s folder, “A child in your class has been diagnosed with head lice….” and we as parents, look around, at one another, some with fear and a hope that their child wasn’t sitting near the kid who had it.
If your child has never had lice, consider yourself amongst the lucky who have not had to deal with these blood sucking creatures that live in one’s hair, and multiply faster than gremlins. If your child has had lice, then you know all too well how exhausting, depressing, and magnanimously frustrating it can be getting rid of them.
The first time one of my kids had lice, I remember crying like a baby, only to get a phone call from my mom who tried to reassure me, “…it is not from being dirty! This happens to everyone!!!” I went through my apartment like a madman, washed everything in hot water, tumble dried it on high heat, and threw out pretty much any stuffed animal or blanket my daughter owned. I had bags filled with every soft toy ever created, and I got rid of them. I wanted to get rid of my whole apartment, I wanted to shave my own head,(I ended up having lice as well).
She was only a year old at the time, just a baby, and I, a new mom. Somewhat still a baby myself, and completely clueless. I purchased the pharmaceutical shampoo, and cream, applied it to her, then to myself, had my husband inspect every last hair on my head. It was a long process that I will never forget. I was terrified… if I missed just one egg… I would have to start all over again. I confided in a woman in my building for support, who immediately steared clear from me for the next year and a half. No joke. She treated me like I had a disease, a highly contagious disease. Eight years later, I hope she has grown up and possibly matured, after all, she had children too. It is likely that she may have even had a bout with it herself, and can finally understand what I had been through. I hope no one ever treats her the way she treated me.
I understand lice better now, and I would never make anyone feel uncomfortable if they had it. I also think that as parents, we need to remove the shame of it by discussing it. Hiding it can only make parents more desperate, and a calm mind is the most important tool you can have in order to handle this problem. I want to enlighten those who have never had it, and help those who ever get it to be able to handle it properly. It is not as bad as you think.
In layman terms, here are the facts.
- Lice are tiny insects, they infest the hair and the scalp, sucking tiny bits of blood from the scalp for a meal.
- Lice is the plural of Louse.
- Lice do NOT prefer dirty heads, they like to feast on clean scalps, although I tend to believe that they like any scalp in general, but it is much easier to get around in a clean scalp than dirty. YES, THEY LIKE CLEAN SCALPS. IF YOU GOT LICE IT IS BECAUSE YOUR CHILD WAS UNUSUALLY CLEAN, NOT DIRTY!!!
- Lice don’t spread disease, but they are contagious and can multiply quickly.
- The bites may cause a child’s scalp to become itchy and irritated, and children should avoid persistent scratching to avoid possibility of infection.
- Head lice can live under water for an extended period of time.
- Washing hair consistently after treatment can make the treatment ineffective.
- Pets don’t get lice, it is a pest that chooses to bother us humans exclusively.
- Each adult Louse can lay roughly 6 eggs a day, which will then hatch in less than 10 days, which will then lay more eggs.
If your child has head lice, there are a number of natural remedies that can be used to help them to get rid of it. Most of those remedies involve saturating the head with an oil like substance that will suffocate the live lice and help to loosen the nits so that you can remove them. Although I used chemicals to get rid of lice in my first experience, I have since changed my mind on that, especially when it comes to kids. I highly recommend you take a look at the website www.head-lice.org and read the stories that many parents have offered to share on their experiences with topical pesticides. It is really quite heart breaking, and at times gut wrenching when you read them, and it will indeed change your mind about using a pesticide on your child.
REMEDIES FOR LICE
- Smother the scalp and hair with Olive oil or Coconut oil.
- Rinse with a peppermint shampoo like Philip B Peppermint and Avocado shampoo.
- Use a coconut scented conditioner, like Suave Coconut Conditioner. (I heard they don’t like coconut).
- Become a Nit picker or hire one. This is the most important step.
The nits are tiny little eggs that are glued to the hairs at the hairline close to the scalp. They are the eggs, once they hatch, you will have more lice. Get rid of them. All of them. Get a fine tooth comb made specifically for lice. Don’t go washing the sheets, or throwing away toys. Lice need to eat to live. By the time you are finished picking the nits out of your child’s hair, the lice in the house will be half dead already. Focus on the task at hand. Any live lice need to be removed, pick them out with your fingers or tweezers, drop them in a bowl of alcohol. After you have searched for the live lice, separate the hair into tiny sections. Thoroughly examine each section and go over it with a fine toothed comb. Search for the nits near the hairline, remove them with your fingers, gripping both sides and pulling down. Drop the nit into the alcohol bowl. Start over again. It is tedious, it is annoying, it is the only way.
Once you have completed the tasks above, and thoroughly examined every inch and strand of your child’s hair, you can then focus on laundering all items in hot water, and placing them in the dryer on high heat. Anything that can’t be washed, can be heated in the dryer for about 10 minutes to kill all live bugs. Vacuum all areas thoroughly, and discard vacuum bag or empty the canister.
Prevent future lice
- Go over child’s hair with fine tooth comb weekly.
- Spray a scented spray on the hair, leaving the hair smelling like a peppermint patty or a coconut colada.
- Put their hair up in pony tails if possible.
- Tell them to avoid sharing hats, coats, garments, and hair accessories.
- Educate your kids on what lice are, and encourage them to proceed cautiously near others who seem to have itching tantrums, yet tell them to refrain from being hurtful to other kids or making fun of anyone at all!