By Olivia |
HEAD lice has invaded your home – and the lovely little head of your child. Now what?
You have several options. But first, no matter which remedy you choose, realize that it is not going to work completely and re-treatment is almost always necessary, even with over-the-counter or prescription head lice medications. Second, have plenty of patience on hand. You will need it.
Smother the little buggers
Common head lice home remedies involve using a heavy oil-based product to smother the lice. Coat your kid’s head with petroleum jelly, olive oil, coconut oil or mayonnaise, cover with a shower cap or cling wrap and leave it on overnight.
In the morning, run a louse comb – or even a clean pet flea comb – through the hair. Start at the neckline and work your way up because lice tend to “prefer” this area and behind the ears. The gooey stuff will make the lice easier to comb out. Have a soapy bowl of water handy to rinse out the comb in after each pass.
You’ll have to wash the hair more than once to get all the gunk out, and may even need to use something heavy-duty like dishwasher liquid. More than likely some oily residue will remain for a while.
Over-the-counter treatments typically use both chemicals and pesticide. If you choose one of these, follow the directions to the letter. Washing the product out before the recommended time reduces your chances of killing the lice, while leaving it on too long can irritate the skin if not worse (these are pesticides we’re working with here, after all).
Treat again in about a week. If the head lice persist after the second treatment, switch to a product with a different active ingredient or see a doctor for a stronger prescription medication.
Be a nit-picker
If you want to avoid chemicals and home remedies, then your only option is to remove the head lice by hand with a louse comb every day – and continue to use a louse comb every day for at least two weeks after the last live lice were spotted. Do this on wet hair – it will be easier to see the lice moving around and it just may slow them down a bit.
Even after the infestation is eliminated, you may still find empty nits stuck to hair. Plain white vinegar helps dissolve the “glue” that holds these nits in place. Soak hair thoroughly with the vinegar. Then wet a towel with vinegar and wrap it around the head. Remove after 30 minutes and use a fine-tooth comb to pick out the nits.
Meanwhile, lice are extremely contagious. Wash all clothing, towels and bedding the infested person has come into contact with in last couple of days. Vacuum the floors, furniture and car seats. Soak combs, hair brushes and hair accessories in rubbing alcohol or in very hot water.
Dry clean anything you can’t toss in the washer. If that’s not practical, seal stuffed animals, throw pillows, comforters, etc., in plastic for at least two weeks.
It takes a village
If your family is affected by lice, please don’t keep it to yourself! That is, tell everyone who has been in contact with the infested person, so that they know to check themselves for lice. Head lice is a group problem and if your family suffers in silence, a re-infestation is not only possible but probable.