Dean's preschool recently shared the dreaded head lice with our family. What a lucky bunch we are. I debated whether or not to write about it for all of 3 seconds before reminding myself that DUH! Every single home remedy and trick that worked? I learned from another blog mom friend. Amalah recently wrote this awesome guide to Plague and Pestilence, which I turned to at the first sign of nits. Her recommendations are excellent, especially the comb.
Stacey of Tree, Root and Twig was my lifesaver when it came to lice. She's the mom of five kids, so she's pretty much seen it all. Her home remedies saved me a bundle of cash and heartache.
Ok, so, how do you differentiate between lice and plain ole dandruff? Lice lay eggs, called nits, which attach to your hair shaft. You'll usually see them about a quarter inch (or less) down from the root. It's easiest to spot them around the ears and base of the hairline, though most of Marcus's were around his part on top of his head. When you move the hair, dandruff will fall downwards while nits will stay attached. As they hatch, the lice move around your head, causing itching. (Grossed out yet? Me too.)
Here's where Stacey's brilliance saved me. Her suggestion was, rather than buying costly products that can be full of chemicals, use household products to saturate the hair and smother the lice. We went with her top suggestion of olive oil. All three of us held our head over our kitchen sink and poured olive oil liberally over our scalps. We rubbed it all over and through our hair, taking care to really saturate the area behind the ears and at the hairline. Marcus wrapped his head in saran wrap, which was HAWT, while Dean and I rocked disposable shower caps. Rather than spending over $10 per bottle just for Rid shampoo, we spent $6.99 for 2 bottles of olive oil (they were buy one get one free at our store!), $2 on shower caps and right around $7 for the comb to end all combs, the RidVantage Lice Removal Comb. Steel combs are where it's at for lice removal. Don't even waste time with the plastic ones.
So, once we marinated our heads for about 4 hours, we rinsed out the olive oil using regular shampoo (baby shampoo on Dean). It left the hair a bit oily and slippery, but that made things easier. I used the awesome comb to go through each little section of hair, rinsing after each stroke, picking out any nits that were stubborn enough to stick around. This part takes FOREVER, especially if you have long hair like Marcus and me. Dean's nits slid right out of his very fine hair. That night, I washed his hair again with baby shampoo, mostly to get the oil out, combed it once again (while he was in the tub! Distraction with bathtub fingerpaint FTW!), then blew it dry. I think the blow-drying was the worst part for him--he's not a fan. I have not seen one single nit in his head since.
Marcus and I were not so lucky. For whatever reason, we had a reoccurrance and finally had to use Rid shampoo. Y'all. That stuff smells HORRIBLE. I did mine first and complained to Marcus that I smelled like the bathroom of a dollar store. He laughed at me, then did his own hair. He came out of the bathroom claiming to smell "old people, flea dip, that hand soap that sort of smells like bacon, lighter fluid and kitty litter." In other words, the bathroom at a dollar store.
So far so good, though we'll be doing another olive oil treatment tonight and combing, combing, combing again, just to be sure.
FOR YOUR HOME:
It's importatnt to know that domestic cats cannot contract human lice. I called the vet immediately, dreading we'd have to pick nits out of Chutney. Luckily, she is in the clear. She wishes we'd all stop wearing shower caps.
I bought Rid's home lice spray and have used it on our mattresses, couches, carpets, dining chairs, car seats, curtains and rugs. I had a few extra pillows I'd bought last summer when they were on sale, so we tossed the old ones and brought in the new ones. We've wiped down all our surfaces with bleach and mopped the floors. I vacuumed with baking soda. I have washed approximately 4000 loads of laundry in hot water and dried them on the "heavy duty" setting. For Dean's school nap mat, which we're pretty sure started all of this in the first place, I washed it, dried it, then immediately sealed it in a platic bag and put it in the trunk of my car until we got to school this morning. Toys that may have gone near someone's head have been soaked in very diluted bleach or sprayed with Lysol.
I feel like we've got a handle on things, though I will continue to be EXTREMELY vigilant for the next few days.
I want to be sure to point out that having lice doesn't mean you are a gross person or that your home is unclean. In fact, lice can't stick to dirty hair. It's just part of life, especially in the deep south. I had them as a kid at the same time I had chicken pox. (That was a bad week.) I imagine this may not be our last time to deal with this, so long as we live in this region and have a little kid in our house.
Have you ever had lice? Got any tricks up your sleeve to get rid of them?