How to Treat Head Lice at Home
Very little gets to me about school nowadays. But you know what I simply can’t stand? Head lice.
For many years, I used to think that lice where a sign of bad hygiene. As a child, I only got lice once, when I was very young. After my Grandma successfully treated and cleaned my head, they were gone for good.
As a mother I had only encountered this pest of all pests once about 10 years ago. My oldest daughter had very long and wavy hair, and she had just started taking care of her hair 100%, which again, made me think she was just not doing a very good job of keeping her hair clean.
I went at it with a vengeance. I cut her hair short. She hated it soooo much. I straightened her hair, which made her look like Dora, which only added to her misery. But after carefully treating her for lice, they were gone. For good.
Fast forward to last November, when I noticed my youngest daughter scratching her head like there was no tomorrow. I couldn’t believe it when I searched her hair, and what did I find? Lice! And nits. Tons of them.
She had thus far managed to stay lice free, even though she is in the 3rd grade. I personally wash her hair daily. I know she is clean. And because my experience with lice was so limited, I still had the same old beliefs. Lice must be a sign of bad hygiene. Right?
As I tend to do a lot nowadays, I decided to do a quick google search. Not much has changed about lice, and how to treat them. In fact, most if not all of the products available today, are the same as 35 years ago. But I still wanted to know how it was even possible that my little one got these damn things.
After all, I knew she was clean, her hair washed, and all that jazz. But that quick research turned out to be quite the eye opener. And I want to share with you what I found out, and how we (finally!) got rid of this pest!
How to treat head lice at home
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School, and/or any other place your child goes as an extra curricular activity, like dance school, girl scouts, etc must be made aware of this. This is extremely important, since chances are your child brought lice home from one of those places. By notifying them you give them the chance to notify other parents and help stop the spreading.
This is seriously important. No matter which gender or age the other family members are, they are at risk of getting contaminated. In fact, most cross-contamination occurs within the household, not outside sources. After checking their hairs, treat everyone to be on the safe side, including yourself.
All bedding, blankets, towels, as well as pillows, decorative cushions, etc should be washed on hot water as soon as possible, and run on the hottest cycle possible on the dryer. This will kill any straggling lice.
Items like the couch, chair, rugs, mattresses, etc that cannot be tossed in the washer and dryer must be vacuumed. While lice can’t live longer than 24 hours without a host (someone’s hair/blood), you should not take any risks.
Remove all hairs attached to combs, hair brushes, and any other hair accessory like hair bows, hair ties, etc. Boil water and soak and wash them all. Leave them in the hot water for at least 10-15 minutes. Then remove, and let them dry. You should also do this with the fine tooth combs you use for getting the lice and nits off the infected person(s).
Do not share
Lice and nits do not fly. That’s probably one of those myths I heard when I was younger, and thought was true. However, they could get transferred over from one person to another by simply sharing any type of hair accessory. If you suspect or know one person in your home has lice, then make sure that person has his or her own hair brush.
After the initial treatment, you must do a second round no earlier than 7 days after, and no later than 10 days after 1st treatment. This follow up treatment is also extremely important because it’s another chance to kill any new lice that has hatched from its egg form in the days in between treatments.
You should also re-check hair for lice and nits every 3-4 days, at least until 2 weeks after 2nd treatment. No matter how effective a treatment is, you should never leave this to chance. Cross contamination is a real thing, both in the home, and outside of it. These re-check sessions will give you an idea of how effective the treatment really was.
If the lice problem continues, do the treatment again, or consult a doctor.
While there is really no guarantee that the lice will not make a come back, there are ways to try prevent it. You could use preventive shampoo and conditioner daily after all lice and nits are gone. Also, instruct your children to never, ever share any of their hair accessories, even if they are completely free of lice.
As an alternative, some websites recommend the use of essential oils, particularly tea tree oil, lavender, pine, lemon, or rosemary. You could make a spray of any combination of these + water, or simply add them to your regular shampoo. I learned from a pharmacist that the reason these essential oils work is that the lice don’t like the smell of them, and shy away from it. As a side note, rosemary oil also helps with the itchiness in the scalp 😉
How to Treat Head Lice at Home
I am absolutely positive that head lice is one of the most disgusting things that parents with school aged children have to deal with. All it takes for lice to spread among school children is 2 little heads put together looking at a fun book.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to prevent this. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to take as many preventive measures as possible.
Although long hair is beautiful, consider cutting it a little. Long hair is what lice prefer, as it makes it ideal for them to climb up to their source of food: your scalp. If cutting hair is not an option, then keep hair tied up, or braided at all times if possible.
Also doing a weekly combing with a good fine tooth comb (preferably a metal one-the plastic ones break easily) wouldn’t hurt, as it would mean you can act on the problem as soon as possible.
Have you had a head lice problem at home? How did you get rid of them? Please, share any recommendations with us in the comment section below and help others get rid of this pest!