What To Do When Your Child Has Lice
Lice. Just saying the word, and everyone’s head starts itching. Those tiny little buggers sure do make my head crawl and my blood boil.
2017 started out with scratching, itching, and a whole heck of a lot of laundry. I remember having lice as a kid, but when I found them on my daughter’s head I was in a bit of a tailspin. How do I get rid of them? What supplies do I need? Do I burn the house down & start over? Today I’m here to share what I’ve learned with you.
I’m not a lice specialist, just a mom scratching her head. All thought and opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.
Of course the first thing I did when I found lice was ask every mom’s BFF Google what to do. There was so much information and tons of contradiction. Do I bag toys for two days or two weeks? Use heat…use mayonnaise. AHH! Here’s what I’ve found as I dug deep into the world of lice.
First off, let’s deal with some myths about lice.
Your Hair Isn’t Dirty
First off, let’s just accept that lice are opportunistic. There’s validity to the saying that “lice like clean hair.” It makes it easier for their eggs to stick onto your individual hair strands.
Don’t make any assumptions. No head is totally off limits.
You’ll Know You Have Lice
Itching is what gave away my daughter had lice (we call her Patient Zero). But it wasn’t until lice was discovered, the rest of us starting scratching our heads. Those allergic to the lice spit itch like mad, while others could go months without knowing. Gross.
So it’s important to check your head.
You’re Not a Walking Bug Cloud
Lice spread through head-t0-head contact. This means they can be spread through hugging or even selfie taking. They don’t jump or fly! You definitely want to take precautions to prevent sharing the little buggers, but you’ll be okay if you need to get out of the house to replenish supplies or get a breath of fresh air.
With all that said, lice did spread to 4 out of the 5 members of my household. You guessed it, I got it too. Thanks, kids.
How to Get Rid of Lice:
Start with treating hair with lice-killing shampoo. Most work by applying, massaging through the hair, and leaving on for 10 minutes. Once the live bugs are dead, you are on to the not-fun-at-all part, the combing.
Tips for Combing:
- Get a great comb like this one. Because it has micro-grooved teeth, it’ll grab small nits better than the cheapy ones that come in the kits.
- Comb with a sweeping motion from scalp to ends trying to get friction. You’ll know you’re doing it right if you get a whooshing sound.
- After swiping, clean the comb on a paper towel. You’ll see what you’re pulling off the head and get totally grossed out.
- The biggest thing I learned is that instead of combing teeny, tiny sections, comb the entire head in four different directions (front to back, back to front, and side to side). Since eggs don’t encapsulate the entire strand, you’ll need to remove it from whichever direction its attached.
- This process takes FOREVER. Keep young children entertained and still-ish with things like ipads and lollipops.
By now, you’ve killed the live bugs and removed the eggs. However, the newly laid eggs (the ones from that day) are too small to see. It is critical to retreat and recomb. The shampoos I purchased recommended 7 days after the initial treatment.
Because we had so many dealing with it and a pretty severe case, I recombed daily to check and remove any eggs.
Originally, I didn’t think I had lice too (although I itched down to my soul). Because lice don’t like heat, I was flat ironing my hair. Turns out I was cementing eggs onto my hair strands. Empty egg shells aren’t problematic, but gross. They’ll grow out with your hair if left behind.
Here’s another bummer: lice mark your head. Once you’ve had it, you’re a more desirable target. So head checks should be a regular part of your routine.
When we got to Day 4 of lice and I was reaching a nervous breakdown, I got help. Did you know there are lice removal specialists? Depending on your needs, they’ll check and clean your heads. Plus, many offer home cleaning options if needed. I’m so grateful that I could at least move on with a clean slate.
When I first found lice on my daughters, I freaked. I bagged everything in their room and did 26 straight hours of laundry. My cellphone alarm was set to go off with the end of each wash cycle, and six days later I’m still not caught up. But I was overreacting slightly.
What needs to be washed are things that come in contact with the head. Think bedding, hair accessories, etc. Don’t forget backpacks and jackets! It’s not a bad idea to isolate favorite stuffed toys by placing them in bags, but my children’s bare rooms was a bit much.
Consider lice repelling spray that’s safe for furniture and car seats. Then vacuum!
Lice can’t survive without a human host, so you’ll be good in a few days. Because of the stigma, it stinks admitting your child has had lice. But it’s important to let your friends and family know they should be checking their own heads.
Getting lice is on no one’s bucket list, but with diligence and detergent you’ll get through it. Do you have any lice removal tips? Share them in the comments.