Chances are if you found this post, you googled “how to get rid of lice”. And if you suspect lice might be a reality for yourself or your child, you are probably freaking out right about now.
Let me give you a little bit of advice before we get to the nitty gritty details….
Breathe. Just breathe.
This is not the end of the world.
I know it feels like your world has been turned upside down. I’ve been there…not long ago. In fact, I may or may not have acted like the world was ending. As you can see from the image below, I might have a problem with overreacting.
(And in all honesty, this cycle was recurring for me pretty much daily for about 2 weeks.)
But in the grand scheme of things (and in comparison to the struggles that so many are facing), dealing with lice is a relatively minor inconvenience (although, believe me, 31 loads of laundry in 5 days certainly does not feel minor nor does the thought of bugs actually living on my head…I shiver just thinking about it).
But I digress…
I never thought anyone in our house would come down with a case of head lice. We have good hygiene! We bathe at least once a day! Our house is (relatively) clean! These disgusting parasites don’t discriminate based on socioeconomic status, the level of education in one’s household, race, religion, or your hygiene habits. On the contrary, lice actually prefer clean hair.
I know time is of the essence when getting started dealing with lice, so let’s get down to business…
How to Get Rid of Head Lice
If this is your first time dealing with head lice or if you can’t seem to get it under control, I would highly recommend calling a professional lice removal service. Seriously. I googled “lice removal in (my city)” and and called the first place that had a good review. I have never had lice before nor had any of my children. Growing up (with five kids, mind you), we never dealt with lice either. I was clueless and just wanted the lice G-O-N-E. My daughter and I both had it and I knew I wouldn’t be able to treat myself very well (and wasn’t about to ask my husband to). We paid around $90 for per person to be treated (my daughter and I) at our home and she checked everyone else in the family for free. I ended up buying some dimethicone and treating my husband and boys just as a preventative.
In addition to the knowledge and expertise of the professional lice removal service, I did hours upon hours of research on my own. Here is the #1 thing I learned:
There is no “one-and-done” treatment when it comes to lice. Unfortunately, you must attack the issue using a variety of methods in order to prevent a re-infestation.
If you live in a community that does not have the option of a professional removal service OR if you want to save a bit of money by doing it yourself, I’ll share with you what the “lice lady” did for us to remove these nasty little buggers.
- Spray head with an enzyme spray to loosen the nits (eggs). Let it sit for 15 minutes, or according to package instructions.
- Divide the hair into sections and use a metal nit comb to comb through the hair, wiping it on a paper towel after every pass through to remove any nits and live lice. Continue combing through every section of hair until the nit comb is free of any debris after several passes in each section. This step is super important…if only one live louse is left on the head, it will end up laying 4-6 eggs per day, so you must get every one.
- Cover your hair with at least 1/4 cup of 100% dimethicone*. Work through the scalp and down to the ends of each strand of hair (use more dimethicone if necessary). Cover with a shower cap and let it sit for 30 minutes. *Pure dimethicone can be tricky to find, so if you can’t find it I would recommend using the LiceFreee Spray and following the package instructions (and skipping step 4).
- Douse your head with blue Dawn dish soap (prior to wetting) and then rinse off the soap and Dimethicone. The Dimethicone is very greasy so it might take several applications of Dawn to get it all out. Wash hair with regular shampoo.
- Blow dry your hair until completely dry.
- Wash all bedding, pillows, and clothing worn in the last 48 hours in HOT water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit) and dry on high heat for at least 30 minutes.
- Put all brushes, combs, bows, headbands, earphones, and hair ties in the freezer for 24 hours.
- Vacuum all floors, couches, and chairs.
- Repeat steps 1-8 on Day 5 and Day 11. Yes, you have to follow all steps three separate times!
- Our professional lice remover didn’t tell us to do this, but I decided to apply the LiceFreee Spray on our hair once a week for the next month just to be sure. It is super simple to use (although it does have a pretty strong black licorice smell). It is the consistency of water and you spray it on your dry hair until every strand of hair is covered (and every inch of your scalp). The hair should be soaking wet by the time you are done. Let it dry naturally and leave on for several hours.
Another step I will add is to notify your school, church, and any friends/family members that the person with head lice has been around. This is common courtesy, people. Swallow your pride, put your embarrassment aside, and do the right thing. I have no idea where we got head lice or who it came from…I would have appreciated a heads-up if it was from someone we know and so I extended that same courtesy to others we had been around. We didn’t end up having to notify my boys’ school because they never had any lice or nits (it was just me and my daughter).
If you have school age children, I would highly recommend having some products on hand just in case. Chances are, especially with Super Lice now running rampant in 46 states, that someone in your house (or someone you know) will have lice at one time or another. Super Lice are now resistant to most over-the-counter treatments that use pesticides, so having this “dooms day” kit on hand can give you peace of mind in a very stressful situation. And if you receive a note home saying someone has lice that you or your child have been around, go ahead and use one of the non-toxic treatments on your kiddo’s head just as a precaution.
Included in my “Dooms Day Lice Kit”:
- Terminator Nit Comb: Many kits come with their own combs but they are often made of plastic. This Terminator Nit Comb is all metal and is great at getting nits out (and live lice).
- 100% Dimethicone
- Plastic Shower Caps
- Lice Freee Spray
Some other suggestions for preventing lice to begin with are:
- Do not share brushes, combs, hats, earbuds, headphones, helmets, or anything else that comes in contact with another person’s head. Lice is spread primarily through head-to-head contact (like hugging) or by sharing items placed on someone’s head.
- Use a sticky roller to clean headrests in movie theaters, airplanes, and other public places. Lice typically spread through head to head contact but occasionally a nit or even a live louse might end up on a headrest and could then infest another head. A live louse can only survive off of a human head for 24-48 hours but once an egg has been laid it will survive until hatched 11 days later.
- Blow dry your hair. This won’t kill lice because your head still isn’t getting hot enough, but it does make for an unappealing environment for lice to live. Again, it isn’t foolproof but it is helpful.
- Use a preventative shampoo and/or conditioning spray that contains rosemary, citronella, and tea tree oils. The Fairy Tales Brand is our favorite. Lice don’t like this blend of oils so it is helpful to repel. Just keep in mind that it will not kill them, however.
- Style your child’s hair with gel. I think the only reason my husband and our boys didn’t end up getting lice as well is because they use gel on their hair. Lice prefer clean hair without any product because they can attach their eggs to the hair shafts more easily. Using gel or product in your hair helps form a barrier. We use this Tea Tree Hair Gel.
- Do weekly head checks using the nit comb. If lice is going around your child’s school or church (and perhaps even if it isn’t), set aside an evening once a week to use the nit comb to check everyone’s heads. If you have a problem, you can find it and can deal with it quickly.
You can see my “Dooms Day Lice Kit” in my laundry room shelf below…right next to the red
throw-up bucket and below the “tick and poison ivy” kit. My husband thinks I really am turning into a Dooms Day Prepper. ;)
Have you or your child dealt with the nightmare that is head lice? What did you find helpful to eradicate the problem?