Author Topic: Here's what to do if your kid has lice  (Read 1988 times)

englishteacheralex

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Here's what to do if your kid has lice
« on: November 21, 2020, 05:35:17 PM »
First, take a deep breath and calm down. Lice are actually fairly harmless in normal infestation situations that are caught relatively early.

That panicky feeling you're experiencing--just get them out, get them out, I don't care what we have to do I want them gone--is the knee-jerk reaction of most parents. Bugs in our kids' beautiful hair seems gross and embarrassing. But it's really, really normal. And that shame and revulsion can lead to a lot of unnecessary expensive treatments because it's one of those problems that feels like a worthwhile cause to throw money at in order to make it go away quickly. At least, that's how it felt to me and several of my friends who have had the same problem.

I'm not an expert, but here's what I've gleaned online and from my pediatrician. The first time we got lice, we panicked and spent a bunch of money on insecticides, and then, when those didn't work, we took our daughter to a professional lice clinic and had the problem solved for $250, like all our friends. And then I did some research.

Lice can't jump from head to head, and they can't survive longer than 8 hours, so you don't have to worry about nuking everything in the house in order to get rid of them. They're not invisible like germs, so you can see when you have them.

If you have little kids, invest in some cheap tea tree oil and a nice lice-picking comb from Amazon. And then wait. When they turn up with an itchy head and the little gray bugs and eggs, here's what you do:

1. Get their hair wet
2. Soak it with a ton of cheap conditioner mixed with tea-tree oil, and leave it in for ten minutes or so
3. Section it off with clips
4. Turn on a movie
5. Carefully comb through the hair with the lice comb and marvel at all the eggs/bugs in the conditioner foam. So satisfying. So much easier than using Nix.
6. Rinse out the conditioner/oil.
7. Blow dry the hair if it's long enough for that. The heat can kill the eggs/bugs.

Why don't I use Nix? It worked thirty years ago when I was a kid with lice. But it mostly doesn't work anymore, because lice have evolved to survive it. I know it seems gross that everything is still alive when you comb it out, but it's not that big a deal. Just comb, comb, comb. The white conditioner makes the grey bugs and eggs stand out really clearly and you can see how many you're getting. Keep rinsing the comb in a bowl of hot water and wiping it on a paper towel, and work your way around the kid's head.

And then throw all the bedding in the hot water cycle of the washing machine and then dry it on high. And then if you're really being vigilant, bag up the stuffed animals for a day or two to suffocate any lice on them.

For two weeks or so afterwards, if it was a bad infestation and/or you want to be careful, keep checking the kid's head and do a once-over with the conditioner/oil/comb method to make sure you're getting out all the bugs.

I was skeptical as hell about this method because I wanted to use all the chemicals. BUGS. But Nix really didn't work. And it's expensive. And the oil/cheap conditioner is way, way easier and more effective.

Don't even get me started on the professional lice salon. These places do a brisk business because they're fast and very effective and results are guaranteed, but I'm more embarrassed of the $250 we spent than I am of the fact my kids got lice. You don't have to run to the doctor or the lice salon. Conditioner/oil/nit comb work great.

For more information: https://www.thefrugalgirl.com/how-to-get-rid-of-lice-with-tea-tree-oil-not-insecticide/.

Just sharing because I was so excited that this worked.

cincystache

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Re: Here's what to do if your kid has lice
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2020, 07:10:37 PM »
thank you for sharing. I haven't had the pleasure of dealing with this yet but if we ever encounter the problem I now know I can search the MMM forums for help! Great info

lazycow

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Re: Here's what to do if your kid has lice
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2020, 02:21:42 AM »
I found buying the cheapest hair gel, smothered in my daughter's thick, waist length hair, covered with a plastic shower cap overnight, then combed out with a nit comb was the best solution. All the toxic, expensive stuff just did not work.

Caoineag

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Re: Here's what to do if your kid has lice
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2020, 08:40:06 AM »
Yup when I was a young adult I got them and suffocating them by oil (leave on for a whole day) and then a hot blow dryer guaranteed no survivors. The blow dryer kills the eggs. No second treatment required. I did that same treatment for another friend who also got them in college and again no second treatment required. I think I used petroleum jelly so it didn't drip. Takes a lot of shampoo to get it out of your hair afterwards but that 100% success rate is totally worth it. Especially for people with super thick and or long hair. No nix comb required.

Missy B

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Re: Here's what to do if your kid has lice
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2020, 10:56:54 PM »
Yeah, they don't like dry hot air, or even dry air.
When I was growing up in the Prairies, nobody had lice. It was not a thing. Also, our outdoor cats never ever had fleas.
Moved to the west coast, and suddenly all I hear about is parents dealing with the latest lice infestation at their school. Waves of it, seemed like no one made it out of elementary school without getting lice at least once. And the cats... fleas. For the first time ever.
I think because the air was crazy dry most of the time in the prairies, that lice couldn't make it. They just dried out. But the nice humidity out here is good for them. Didn't put that together until I saw pro lice-treaters using hair-dryers to treat kids heats, chemical-free.

HMman

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Re: Here's what to do if your kid has lice
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2020, 12:36:46 PM »
Yeah, they don't like dry hot air, or even dry air.
When I was growing up in the Prairies, nobody had lice. It was not a thing. Also, our outdoor cats never ever had fleas.
Moved to the west coast, and suddenly all I hear about is parents dealing with the latest lice infestation at their school. Waves of it, seemed like no one made it out of elementary school without getting lice at least once. And the cats... fleas. For the first time ever.
I think because the air was crazy dry most of the time in the prairies, that lice couldn't make it. They just dried out. But the nice humidity out here is good for them. Didn't put that together until I saw pro lice-treaters using hair-dryers to treat kids heats, chemical-free.

They may be uncommon on the prairies, but they definitely exist. My sister got lice from school a long time ago, in the middle-of-nowhere on the Canadian prairies. I don't know what the prevalence of lice is in the cities, but I agree it seems to be pretty rare out here.

TrMama

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Re: Here's what to do if your kid has lice
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2020, 01:18:55 PM »
LOL about the west coast vs prairies comments. I live on the west coast and have lost count of the number of times my kids have had lice and then shared it with me. Apparently fleas live in the ground here, which is why all pets that go outside need to be treated for fleas regularly but pets in drier areas can get away with treatment only when they actually catch fleas from another animal.

I've never tried the conditioner method, but using an electric lice comb to zap the little buggers works well. We use that (on dry hair) and then follow with a good nit comb (not the one that comes in the Nix box, throw that one out). Repeat every day for the first week and then every other day for the 2nd week.

We do it this way because I can use both these combs on myself. Neither DH nor the kids have the patience to do a good job of combing out my hair so if we have a hope in hell of getting rid of them, I need to be able to treat myself as well.

GuitarStv

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Re: Here's what to do if your kid has lice
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2020, 01:27:15 PM »
Can't you just shave the kids head bald and then soap everything down well?  It's just hair, it'll grow back . . . and there's no need to use any harsh chemicals.

SimpleCycle

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Re: Here's what to do if your kid has lice
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2020, 03:55:32 PM »
I absolutely agree not to freak out.  Lice are not a hygiene issue, and they do not have any serious consequences.  Just breathe, you've got this.

Combing can work if you are super diligent, especially if only one or two family members are affected.  The LiceMeister comb is the best $10 I've ever spent.  However, if everyone in the family is infected and you miss one louse, you'll all just keep passing it around and are never done.  In that case, skip right to Natroba/spinosad and treat everyone.  It kills both lice and eggs (it's the only one that genuinely does this) and actually works, unlike most OTCs and even prescription treatments.  It's a prescription, it's pricey, but our insurance covered it with a $10 copay.

Lice are bad at crawling once they are off hair, and die in 24-48 hours, so you only need to launder things that have touched the person's head in the last 48 hours.  No crazy vacuuming or laundering everything in the house.

Anyway, most of the time you can get rid of them with a good combing.  I'd suggest follow ups every 2 days until you don't find anything in their hair a couple times in a row.

Malcat

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Re: Here's what to do if your kid has lice
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2020, 10:21:59 PM »
Can't you just shave the kids head bald and then soap everything down well?  It's just hair, it'll grow back . . . and there's no need to use any harsh chemicals.

Just curious, how many women do you know who are comfortable walking around bald?

I just shaved my head this past summer, and it's quite the experience being a bald woman. I can see why so few ever do it.

Also, the growing out process SUCKS BALLS, takes years, and bloody frequent haircuts if you want to avoid the mullet that shows up every few weeks. I grew it out from 1 inch before and it took almost 5 years.

Seems like a rather intense and cumbersome solution for people who want to have long hair, when it's a pretty temporary and solvable problem, even without harsh chemicals.

That said, yes, if I got lice again I would just shave all my hair off. DH wouldn't though, but his hair is spectacular. I wouldn't let him shave it off.

GuitarStv

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Re: Here's what to do if your kid has lice
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2020, 07:45:21 AM »
Can't you just shave the kids head bald and then soap everything down well?  It's just hair, it'll grow back . . . and there's no need to use any harsh chemicals.

Just curious, how many women do you know who are comfortable walking around bald?

I just shaved my head this past summer, and it's quite the experience being a bald woman. I can see why so few ever do it.

Also, the growing out process SUCKS BALLS, takes years, and bloody frequent haircuts if you want to avoid the mullet that shows up every few weeks. I grew it out from 1 inch before and it took almost 5 years.

Seems like a rather intense and cumbersome solution for people who want to have long hair, when it's a pretty temporary and solvable problem, even without harsh chemicals.

That said, yes, if I got lice again I would just shave all my hair off. DH wouldn't though, but his hair is spectacular. I wouldn't let him shave it off.

I'm not overly attached to my hair, and my kid has a penis (therefore isn't required by unwritten law to wear extremely long hair to prove his gender) so none of the above applies to either of us.  I agree, the situation is likely different for most grown women or man-bun wearing hipsters though.  :P

TrMama

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Re: Here's what to do if your kid has lice
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2020, 09:53:30 AM »
Can't you just shave the kids head bald and then soap everything down well?  It's just hair, it'll grow back . . . and there's no need to use any harsh chemicals.

Just curious, how many women do you know who are comfortable walking around bald?

I just shaved my head this past summer, and it's quite the experience being a bald woman. I can see why so few ever do it.

Also, the growing out process SUCKS BALLS, takes years, and bloody frequent haircuts if you want to avoid the mullet that shows up every few weeks. I grew it out from 1 inch before and it took almost 5 years.

Seems like a rather intense and cumbersome solution for people who want to have long hair, when it's a pretty temporary and solvable problem, even without harsh chemicals.

That said, yes, if I got lice again I would just shave all my hair off. DH wouldn't though, but his hair is spectacular. I wouldn't let him shave it off.

I'm not overly attached to my hair, and my kid has a penis (therefore isn't required by unwritten law to wear extremely long hair to prove his gender) so none of the above applies to either of us.  I agree, the situation is likely different for most grown women or man-bun wearing hipsters though.  :P

It's also makes it hard to fly under the radar if you're a middle aged woman and you don't want the entire office to know you're dealing with headlice. Works great for DH though.

GreenEggs

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Re: Here's what to do if your kid has lice
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2020, 10:00:04 AM »
Cheap 3X reading glasses are extremely helpful for picking lice nits from hair.  Makes the job much easier.

Nutty

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Re: Here's what to do if your kid has lice
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2020, 07:33:25 PM »
We used olive oil on the daughters hair.  They brought them home from school 3 weeks running.  Drench the hair in olive oil, put a plastic shower cap on them and off to bed.  Yes, lots of shampoo to clean, but the hair was luxurious afterwards.  Shoulder length hair.

The school would inspect them and send them to class.  They never would say who kept reinfecting the class.

The other suggestion was mayo.  A little expensive. 

Launder everything.  The furniture was the vacuum trick, but we usually found out from school and could contain it.

Omalley

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Re: Here's what to do if your kid has lice
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2021, 02:36:27 PM »
Sounds like lice treatment options have improved since they used kerosene to treat me in the rural midwest of the 1970s. 

snic

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Re: Here's what to do if your kid has lice
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2021, 08:10:24 PM »
One of the best (and cheapest) lice treatments is the Cetaphil method. Basically you generously massage Cetaphil cleanser into the hair, then blow dry it until it's dry, then wash the hair the next day. The dried Cetaphil kills the lice and nymphs (but not the eggs, so you have to repeat it some days later to kill the nymphs that hatch before they can reproduce).  It works - I had to do it twice for my daughter. It is a bit of a laborious process, but far less so than searching painstakingly for nits. And because you dry the Cetaphil, there's no messy sleeping with your hair in a bag full of olive oil or mayonnaise.

Google "Cetaphil lice treatment" for the full details.

MayDay

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Re: Here's what to do if your kid has lice
« Reply #16 on: February 22, 2021, 01:01:44 PM »
Ditto!

We doused heads in tea tree oil conditioner, put on a shower cap to catch drops, and after an hour, combed it out. Repeat with a quick check every couple days (no conditioner, just look for them). At around 5-7 days do another whole round with conditioner and you are done!

That said if I got them myself I would go to the lice lady. My h does not have the fine motor skills to do a good lice comb out.