OK. Can I speak freely? Head lice are a nightmare. Especially when you have to deal with it more than once in a two-week period because your kid’s classroom has not been treated, and the teacher has not had the school nurse check the entire classroom’s heads for lice. The result? Constant lice alert in our home (ugh). We now do nightly lice checks, and do preventative sprays on the regular.
Being pregnant and also having a little one in the house, chemical treatments are not our best choice. The first time we found lice in our oldest daughter’s hair, we went a little nuts, to be honest. I immediately went out and bought the best-selling lice treatment I could find at CVS (NOT cheap, let me tell ya!!), put on some heavy-duty gloves, sat my 7-year-old in the bath tub, and got to work on that lather. To my surprise, as I was carefully combing her hair after the shampooing, SO many lice were still fully alive! What? Isn’t this stuff supposed to at least kill the hatched lice??
We learned that the lice in the school these days are some kind of mutant lice. Similar to the flu having different strains each year that are resistant to the previous year’s vaccine, these lice have become resistant to the common chemical treatments.
So. I was extra meticulous in the combing process, as I’d read that is the really important part in really removing the problem (lice AND eggs). I was a little paranoid for the first week, checking her hair, my hair, and our 6-year-old daughter’s hair every day for eggs and newly hatched lice. We combed each family member’s hair and washed everything we could get our hands on, just in case. After one week, we were still in the clear, and I assumed it was over.
After not checking her hair for only TWO days, I was horrified to discover three fully grown lice in her hair and a bunch of unhatched lice eggs. Ahh! I wanted to scream! Had we not just been through this? The shampooing, the combing, the eight freaking loads of laundry?? She’d managed to get head lice again (from her classroom, come to find out). This time, I was determined to treat the issue naturally instead of chemically, and keep the critters away…AND IT WORKED (gasp). Here’s the step-by-step.
1. Cover scalp and hair with coconut oil
Olive oil works, too, but I’ve heard from other mamas that coconut oil works THE best. Cover the scalp and hair with the oil, and cover with a shower cap (this helps keep the oil from getting all over the place). The oil suffocates the live lice after a few hours, often bringing them out to the hairline, which also makes them easier to remove. Keep oil in hair, covered, for 4 to 5 hours.
Rinse hair in the shower with dish soap. Yep, you read that right: dish soap. It’s really the only thing that gets greasy substances off.; shampoo won’t quite do the trick.
3. Spray scalp and hair with apple cider vinegar
Using a spray bottle, douse scalp and hair with apple cider vinegar. The apple cider vinegar helps loosen up the nits (eggs) from the hair, making them easier to remove with the comb. Yes, it’s stinky…but it really helps.
4. Comb hair in tiny sections
This is the painstakingly long step–sorry to say. You will need to get one of those special lice combs from the drug store. A regular comb simply won’t get the job done. Don’t rush through this step, mamas. It’s the most important one! If you miss one lousy (ha) egg, the problem returns. Carefully comb small sections of hair, combing as closely to the scalp as possible. After each stroke, clean the comb on a wet paper towel and put the yuckies in a plastic bag as you go, OR rinse the comb in hot water as you go. After you’re all done using the comb, place it in boiling water for 10 minutes, or soak it in vinegar for at least 30 minutes to clean it.
5. Wash bedding and linens, and vacuum all floors.
Wash all possibly affected bedding (and clothes) in hot water, and dry on a long, hot cycle. Vacuum regularly to clean up any loose lice and nits, and empty the filter outside.
6. Prevent lice from returning
Whew, OK. So now you’ve gone through so much fun to rid your kids and your home of these pesky parasites. Keep them away by 1. Educating your kids on lice-free behaviors (not sharing hats, soft chairs, bean bags, head bands, brushes, with other kids; not letting their heads come in direct contact with other kids; and so on); 2. Keep your kids’ hair up instead of down and loose (buns work great for this!); 3. Spray a mixture of coconut oil (or almond oil) and tea tree oil in their hair daily before they go to school. Eight ounces of coconut oil mixed with 20 drops of tea tree oil gets the job done. You can also add 20 drops of tea tree oil to 8 ounces of natural shampoo, and wash hair with that as another preventative measure. Tea tree oil kills lice 100% of the time, but not eggs; so you will need to check for nits (eggs) daily for at least a week, preferably two; and remove any missed eggs.
These steps have worked wonders for us, and all without the use of expensive, neurotoxin-filled, chemical treatments! If you happen to encounter these mutant head-munchers soon, I hope this is of help to you. 🙂