So, your child has head lice. Now what? First things, first, don’t panic!
Fortunately, even though lice can spread, they carry no diseases which means that you and your child are not in danger, health-wise. It’s also important to remember that just because your child gets lice, it does not mean that your child is unclean.
It’s just their luck that they got it from another child who had it. If your child is in daycare, like mine, they’re more likely to get it.
There are home treatments you can use to get ride of the lice and there are treatments you can purchase from the store. A few things you will definitely need regardless of treatment options are gloves, shower caps, and a lice comb.
Nearly all treatment options focus on a smothering method.
There are suffocating agents that specialize in suffocating the lice. Such agents include vaseline, mayo and olive oil. Although they are effective in getting rid of live lice, it’s important to understand that they do not get rid of nits. Nits are the lice’s eggs. It’s also very messy and hard to get out of hair.
I’m a freak about cleanliness, so I bought over-the-counter shampoo. My husband and I were going to treat our hair as well. I grabbed RID and Meijer brand shampoos to treat our hair. I also bought child-friendly shampoo for my son. On top of using the suffocating agent and chemical agent on my son, I bought Lice Shield to help repel head lice. This shampoo is made with natural essential oils and smells really good. It took a few weeks for our daycare center to get rid of the lice, which is normal once it spreads, so we used this shampoo for a few weeks following the initial outbreak.
Make sure that you follow the instructions when treating your child. I found that by putting a show cap on my child’s head and letting him play in the bath, it distracted him long enough to let the agent stay for the time it needed to effectively treat the lice.
He hated the cap at first, but his toys soon distracted him.
Removing the Nits
This was the most challenging part for me, as I had a hard time identifying the difference between dry skin and Nits. Nits do not fall off the head following treatment, so they must be removed. Nits can be described as tear drop in shape and are typically found on the nap of the neck, around the ears or crown of the head. Here are instructions on removing Nits.
- Go through your child’s hair in sections, slowly, sitting next to strong overhead lighting.
- Use finger nails, or head lice removal comb to divide sections
- Lift a 1 inch wide tuft of hair and inspect it thoroughly for Nits
- Comb through tuft with lice comb to remove Nits
- Also remove any dead lice which are black
To control further spreading of lice, it’s important to clean up the environment directly exposed to the lice.
- Wash all bedding (including stuffed animals), recently worn clothing (including hats, coats, gloves, scarves), backpacks, towels and anything else possible exposed to the lice, in hot water (above 130 degrees F)
- Dry on high heat
- Vacuum and clean the mattress
- Bedding or stuffed animals that cannot be washed should be place in a plastic bag for two weeks in order to suffocate the lice
- Vacuum entire house and couches if possible
- Spray lice spray onto couches, your child’s car-seat(s) and other larger items unable to be washed in a washer
- Clean combs and brushes by soaking them in medicated shampoo for 10 minutes or by soaking them in water that is at least 130 degrees for 10 minutes
Cleaning should start immediately once head lice is discovered and subsequently whenever live lice is found on the head during daily inspections.
Follow-up and Prevention
We continued using Lice Shield for a few weeks following the initial outbreak. We also put tea tree oil in his hair daily. Rumor has it, lice hate hair that has product or oils in it. So, style up that hair!
Make sure to check our child’s head for lice on a regular basis for several weeks following the initial outbreak. Check it periodically throughout the year as well.
And remember, don’t panic and good luck!