Those are words that no one ever wants to hear. Lice. When you do your immediate reaction is how? Where did they come from? Honestly with kids there is just no telling. In my own personal situation we either gave them to our family in Ohio or them to us. We have 2 in public schools, 2 in preschool, and an adventurous toddler who gets into everything. My oldest had an extremely mild case, my middle daughter had nothing, and my toddler was full of them. I had major mommy guilt that I missed this. How did I miss this? I gave her baths, I brushed her hair every day, I put it in pretty little bows. How? Did I mention that we co-sleep? Or that my hair is quite long? Yes, I had the little buggers too. Thankfully I had my sister in law with us when we found them and together we wiped out what could have potentially infested both of our homes. I decided to come forward with my story to help inform some of you that have never dealt with lice. School is starting and it never hurts to be a little proactive. It can happen to your family no matter how clean you keep the kids or your home. Now that I look back on it not that big of a deal. Lots of work but not a big deal.
What are they?
Besides a pain in the behind lice are just tiny insects that live on our scalps. They like it there and when you don’t know you have them they set up camp and have a party. Of course itching is a sign but I am here to tell you that not everyone itches. My baby never itched at all nor did I and because we didn’t catch them right away they were partying for awhile. Let me also say that I did not have one live louse on my head. Not one! However I had a head full of eggs ready to welcome a new generation of the pesky little critters. YUCK, I know.
The egg is attached less than 1/2 inch from the scalp. They will hatch in about 10-12 days. Here is a photo of an egg we found on our baby’s head. See how hard they would be to see.
It takes the baby lice (nymphs) another 10-12 days to mature into an adult head louse. They live approximately 30 days and an adult can lay up to 10 eggs per day. An adult louse can lay up to 90 eggs during their life! That calculation is if you only have 1 female laying the eggs too and when is there ever only 1?
Go ahead and itch again I’ll wait.
What WE did to get rid of them
First and foremost we packed up all the children’t stuffed animals and sent them on a “vacation” to the garage attic. I will bring them back in 2-3 weeks. Each night we stripped all the beds in the house and washed the bedding in hot water until we found no eggs on anyone. We also did a thorough vacuuming of all floors, mattresses, and furniture. Finally we researched the heck out of them. Research, research, research before you decide your game plan on getting rid of them. It is totally possible to treat and kill the lice and their eggs without ever using a chemical. I knew that I was not going to treat the baby with any of the over the counter insecticides. Please remember that those products are absorbed into our bloodstreams so if you do decide on one don’t overdo it and follow the instructions carefully. We decided to try a more homeopathic approach and found it very effective for our family.
First up was mayonnaise. Don’t laugh ok? It is the oil and the vinegar in the full fat mayo that will suffocate live lice and nymphs. Unfortunately it does nothing for the live eggs. We applied it to the girls, put on shower caps for 2 hours, and told them that it was a day at the spa. Afterwards we washed out the mayo, did a vinegar rinse, and combed. During a lice outbreak your lice comb will be your best friend. Buy a good metal comb! We were still finding more eggs though. Darn eggs!
We found another home treatment that suggested Listerine. Mouthwash? Why not! We tried it on all of us but the baby. Although there were no lice ever found on anyone after the first day we didn’t know when the eggs were going to hatch so we kept on treating. The Listerine was left on our heads for 2 hours and then we rinsed and slept with Coconut Oil overnight. Overkill? Hardly. It seems impossible to have any sort of overkill when dealing with lice. Every few days we reapplied the Listerine and coconut oil but we combed for a solid week everyday and were still finding the eggs, much less but still a few. They are difficult to spot and you have to be diligent in your combing and picking. We also could not tell if the eggs were already hatched or not so we just kept on combing and finally we found no eggs. Whew. I don’t want to relive this but if it happens I will be ready.
How to prevent getting them
The only way to prevent lice is to keep your child locked in her room 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. (from Dr. Sears website and it made me smile). It is said that lice don’t like coconut or tea tree and I have read where families exclusively use shampoos and conditioners with those ingredients in them. It is my plan to do the same. We are switching to Suave Coconut Shampoo and Conditioner. Obviously we need to remind our children not to share hats or combs. There will still be playdates and sleepovers so there is a chance that they will return. For that reason I am not going to throw away my trusty lice comb and clips but hide them from my view so that I don’t relive this drama in my head until it happens. Let’s hope that it doesn’t happen again. Ever.
Have you or your children ever experienced lice? What treatments worked for you?