Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A pesky situation: Lice

I am a former teacher, but more importantly I am a home grown girl from Florida with long hair with a teenager with long hair. Lice-gasp-yes, I said it lice has always been a figment of my worst nightmare...until one day it wasn't!

Growing up I had really, really, really long hair. I remember lice going around my school, I remember my mother treating me once for lice and nitpicking but I don't think I ever actually had lice. Pretty lucky right? Not really. Back then there were all kinds of rules about being nit-free when you came to school, plus I was always very careful about not sharing my hairbrush or using anyone else's hair brush and I didn't share hats and rarely coats. I remember wearing my hair up more often than not.

Fast forward 20 some odd years or so and now it is my daughter's turn. I honestly never gave lice a second thought until she started going to camps. There was one dreaded camp where she went in lice free but came out an itching maniac. The nurse said it was probably dandruff from not conditioning and probably some of the shampoo dried one her scalp since they take short showers. So, since a nurse told me that I had always believed it was dandruff. I honestly had no idea what lice was and she'd been to the hair dresser and doctor and no one ever said it may be lice. Finally, after moving to Texas in 2010 the itching became more than she could bear I took her to the doctor and sure enough-lice :(

Now, her school in Texas has no policy in effect about lice. You don't miss school because of this nuisance. You still go to school even if you have nits. Well, my kid didn't. We spent an entire weekend treating lice with a prescription killer and combing through our hairs with a nitcomb and washing linens and whatnot. The outbreak in her school continued. It was a nightmare.

Moved to California no incidences. Moved to Vancouver bam-lice problem! Big one too. Apparently it is so bad it has now made the news. We've just left Vancouver but have a lot of friends there and still get some news so thought I would share a bit of what is going on.

According to this article lice are becoming resistant to treatments we are having to go the old fashioned route to be rid of lice. This means folks you are about to spend hours upon hours of your life nitpicking.

First things first: Identify your child actually has lice. If you are like me and had no idea what you were looking for consult this article from Rid.

Next, treat or kill the lice. When we were "diagnosed" with lice we were given a prescription. Since we had insurance this only made the cost of the medicated shampoo $10 total US. I know there are over the counter shampoo's like Rid though that you can use. Get one of these. Y'all know I am a huge advocate of doing things naturally but don't skimp on this. Just do a one time medicated treatment and kill them off.

This is the part you will hate. It really is a nightmare, but if you don't want the lice coming back it is essential. Get a nit comb (found in the pharmacy section and it has really super duper close together teeth and is metal), going through small sections of hair comb through the hair. This took us four hours the last time we had to do it, but it was well worth it. Really go through each section of hair and make sure you look and see that you are getting all the nits. My daughter read a book while we did this. Literally she read an entire book.

Comb Again:
Sadly you are not done after one session of combing. But, good news is it doesn't take as long the second time and is even short the third time. Our second session took two hours and the third just an hour.

In between each combing section I do boil the comb to disinfect it. I know lice & the nits or whatever die soon after leaving the hair shaft, but I don't like to take any chances. I mean these suckers are becoming resistant to the chemical baths so I figure why not just take this one little extra measure.

I inspect once a month now just to make sure.

All this will be for naught if you don't disinfect. Gather up the stuffed animals and either dry them on high or package them up in garbage bags and put them away for a solid month. Gather up the pillows, fluff them in the dryer on high to kill anything. Wash all the bed linens, blankets, jackets/coats, hats, etc. For our beds I recommend sprinkling them with baking soda and vacuuming then lightly spraying with a vinegar/water mixture that has lavender and tea tree essential oils in it.

Now, prevention is a loose word. If you are going to get lice you are going to get it but here are a few things I've done to "prevent" lice:

  • Check for nits at least once a month. If there is a current outbreak in your school or extra curricular activity check weekly.
  • Lecture your kids: explain the importance of keeping heads separate, not sharing hats/brushes. We all know lice die soon after leaving the hair shaft and it's been an old wives tale for years to not share brushes and hats, but you can never be too safe. Just best to avoid sharing these items. During school projects or when taking selfies tell the kits to try and keep their heads apart. This will prevent the direct transfer.
  • Preventative shampoos: there is nothing that will prevent lice but there is a shampoo that I have my daughter use when she goes to camp and then once a week during the school year it is called Fairy Tales. Great stuff and has really helped us keep our sanity.

  • Last, if you are dealing with lice right now I am so sorry. I truly feel your pain. Lice brought me to tears once upon a time but if you follow these simple steps you will have it gone in a couple of days. I can't stress enough though combing and disinfecting are going to be the best bets for ridding lice from your life forever.

    Products I recommend: Please visit my amazon store to see all the products I have used, use, and/or recommend for the treatment and "prevention" of lice.

    As a side note if you are in the Vancouver, BC area and are having a hard time getting rid of lice or don't have this kind of time contact the Greater Vancouver Lice Clinic. I heard about them last year but being a stay at home mom decided to do the lice stuff myself I bet these guys could help if you. I am not writing this as a promo for them have just heard good things and wanted to pass it on for those busy moms and dads who could use a service like this! :)

    Diclaimer: Clicking and purchasing from some of the link(s) provided allows me to receive a small commission to support my blogging efforts. Cheers!


    1. Lice infection is just awful!! I remember being infected in school and had to go through all the above!
      Fast forward, for my boys, they did have one lice outbreak in school and were affected...the good thing about boys is that they didn't mind getting their hair shaved off and I was spared the nitpicking ordeal!

    2. Oh no! I remember there was an outbreak at our elementary and everyone with lice had to go home, it was just awful! My sister and I had it and we went home and our mom treated our hair and did a HUGE deep clean of the house! I have not dealt with it among our children-finger crossed!

    3. We suffered nits a couple of months ago...well nursery said they spotted some, but when I combed and treated, I only got out what looked like cradle cap. Thankfully I have a son, so a lot easier and quicker to comb.
      Lots of people advised Vosene Nit repellent shampoo and leave in spray. Smells like fly spray, but seems to do the job. And for nit combs everyone in the UK raves about nitty gritty combs