I’m going to admit something that most people find embarrassing. I did in the beginning until I learned how many children get it, how many people I know have also gone through what I am going through. My kids brought home Head lice! Yes, lice (sorry I have caused you to start itching your head). All three of my older kids and I had head lice. Did you know that 6 to 12 million children in the United States are infected with Head Lice per year? They can then infect their parents and other siblings or family/friends they come into contact with. Children that are most commonly seen with lice are between the ages of 3 to 11.
Since getting lice I have done a ton of research on it. I learned a lot about lice. Itching is usually one of the first and most common symptoms. Lice usually feed every 4-6 hours on human blood. They usually have a life span of 30 days (one month). A female lays on average of 10 nits (eggs) per day. They lay the nits on a person’s hair close to the scalp to help keep it warm. if a nit is found further than 1 cm from the scalp than it is no longer viable. when a nit hatches the nymphs (baby lice) feed immediately. they reach adulthood 9-12 days after hatching and after an additional 1.5 days they start reproducing. Lice are wingless, they can’t jump but they do crawl very fast.
There are a ton of ways that lice can be passed from person to person. How I think I got it was from cuddling with my girls, head to head contact. other ways that lice can transfer from person to person is by clothing sharing or just close contact, hair accessories, bedding, pillows, towels, hats, and coats. however, lice can only live up to twenty-four hours without a host.
As soon as I learned that Lice had invaded our home, I immediately started researching treatments that were available at my nearest store. I got the Nix treatment kit for $20 at Wal-Mart. The kit came with 2 creme rinse, one combing gel, treatment spray, and a special comb to help comb out lice and nits.
How this treatment works is that you shampoo your hair (regular shampoo, no conditioner). Then you put the creme rinse in your hair. Leave it in your hair for no more than 10 minutes. I did it for the full 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, rinse it out of your hair. Towel dry your hair. While your hair is still damp, apply some of the combing gel and use the special comb to get any remaining lice and nits.
I did call my doctor to see if there was anything they could do or what they recommended I also do. Plus I needed to double-check to make sure I was safe to use the treatment and still breastfeed my baby. My doctor said that Nix was one of the best brands but I needed to make sure not to wash my hair for two-three days after the treatment and to not use conditioner or shampoo with conditioner for 2 weeks. Using conditioner or shampoo with conditioner can stop the treatment from doing its job. The doctor also said to repeat the treatment if there was still lice or nits after 9 days. I was also safe to continue breastfeeding. If you find yourself in the same situation, check with your doctor.
After treating everyone’s head for lice, we started bagging up all bedding, coats, gloves, hats, blankets, clothes and stuffed animals. Basically, anything that could pass the lice. Now there are two things you can do with the bagged up stuff. You can either leave it in a bag for 2-3 weeks or you can wash and dry it on high. For my kid’s favorite stuffed animals and some pillows, I dried them on high with some of the laundry I was working on. The high heat would kill any lice or nits on them. I also vacuumed every room, the couch, and I sprayed down the couch with the Nix treatment spray. Now if you have little ones like I do, don’t forget their car seats in the car.
Throughout the weeks following we tried different “at-home” remedies to help get rid of lice faster. We coated our hair in olive oil, combed it and then let it sit for an hour. However, my research says that you should leave the olive oil in your hair over night under a shower cap. This causes the lice to suffocate. Another at-home remedy we tried was getting our hair wet with apple cider vinegar water (half water, half vinegar). We sat for an hour with this in our hair under a shower cap. We combed it with the special lice comb. This mainly worked on nits, contaminating them to not survive. Another remedy was to blow dry our hair on high heat. This should kill the lice and nits. It also helped me locate lice that I might have missed when combing. The last “at-home” remedy that we have done (and still using) is adding tea tree oil to our shampoo. In the beginning I took a travel size bottle of shampoo and added 4-5 drops of the oil to it. I shook it up to mix the oil in. I’m going to continue to use shampoo with tea tree oil in it. I have naturally curly thick hair. It can be very frizzy all the time. I have noticed that it is less frizzy since I started using the tea tree oil. Now, you should continue to check all heads for weeks after not finding any just to make sure they stay gone.
If you don’t want to use an over-the-counter lice treatment, try researching your area for lice treatment centers. There are a couple in my area. they will search your head to confirm you have it (this would be a good option if you live alone). Once it has been confirmed then they will discuss treatment options and cost. From searching their website, the number one method is a heat treatment.
Once you discover that your kids (or whomever) have head lice, the polite thing to do, but some might not do because they are embarrassed, is to notify anywhere your kids have been and could pass it on. I notified my son’s school (he also had to stay home till it was gone), my daughter’s preschool, and my kids had been to the dentist just a few days earlier so I notified them. But everyone I talked to gave me sincere sympathy because they also have gone through it with their kids. The manager at the dentist actually laughed at my news! but that was only because she had been there. Lice is not something we should be embarrassed by. It has nothing to do with how clean a person you are. Lice are resilient and are easy to pass on.
I am using this unfortunate event as an opportunity to go through toys and clothes. I didn’t realize how much clothes my kids had until I needed to wash it all. I’ve taken them down to a few more than what they need, about 12-15 of everything. I’ve gone through everyone’s clothes except my husbands. He can go through his own. 😉