L-I-C-E: The worst 4 letter word in the dictionary!!
Creepy, crawly, itchy: That’s me trying to type this post. Even the word makes my head itch. With knee-length hair, lice is one of my biggest fears. I’ve been there, done that with my daughter and a couple of the boys, I do NOT want to go there again. Treating lice is something that almost every mother with children in school, eventually has to fight. If you haven’t, you’ve missed a lot of tears (from both mother and child), late, late, nights, and housecleaning of epic proportions.
Here you will find some of the things we used the last time we were plagued, and I do mean plagued, with this creep, crawly, itchy menace.
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There he is, that creepy, crawly, blood sucking, parasite. These tiny creatures can wreak havoc of epic proportions in any home. Bed stripping, bug spraying, crying children, frustrated mother, sleepless night, bagged up beloved stuffed toys, laundry for days, and usually close to $100 in special shampoos and sprays.
Here’s the catch, lice are becoming resistant to these treatments and the manufacturers are making the chemicals stronger and stronger, in an attempt to defeat these tiny pests.
However, don’t fret Dad & Mom, if you find yourself surrounded by these critters, rest assured you can save your sanity, and a few dollars, with a few natural ingredients that really work.
When you find out you have an infestation, there are several , simple steps to completely ridding yourself of the bugs. Below you will find the treatment I have used, a couple of times over the past 19 years.
1. A good nit comb:
A good nit comb is the absolute MUST have no matter which treatment route you take. Those plastic numbers that come with pharmacy kits are NOT going to cut it on fine hair. When one of my boys came home with critters, the comb would just slide over his hair and the nits because his hair was so fine.
I found this comb on amazon and have to say, it is WELL worth the $$
the teeth are a bit closer together and it is much easier to hold on to than the typical drug store combs. It can also be sterilized a little better. I keep it tucked away, just in case.
2. Vinegar, spray bottle & shower cap:
First, make up a mix of half vinegar or apple cider vinegar and warm water, put it in a sprayer and soak the scalp and hair roots thoroughly. Next, apply the shower cap and leave the mix on the hair for about 20 minutes. Then rinse and comb through the hair with a regular brush or comb while still wet, apply a little conditioner if needed. The vinegar mix will cause the glue that hold the nits on to loosen up and make them easier to remove in the next step. Due to the acidity of the vinegar it may also kill some of the adult bugs it contacts.
3. Olive oil & tea-tree oil:
An old squirt bottle, or shampoo bottle, filled with olive oil and about 10 drops of tea-tree oil is the next step in ridding yourself of these critters. You will want to saturate the hair from root to tip with the olive oil mix. (Do this over tile, a plastic drape, or in the tub, cover all clothing with a plastic drape) rub it into the scalp and squeeze it through the hair. Then, with a regular comb, comb the oil through and the tangles out; twist hair and pin it up if it is long. Place the shower cap over the hair and go to bed (sleep on an old towel) or at the least leave the mixture on for 3 to 4 hours. This will suffocate any live bugs and help to release the nits (eggs) that are attached to the hair shaft.
After waiting the appropriate time, remove the shower cap, comb out any tangles with a regular comb, then begin separating the hair into thin sections. Thoroughly go through each section, with the Nit Comb being sure to rinse the comb in hot, hot running water after each pass. Keep your eyes open for any adult bugs and remove them with tweezers or fingernails as you come across them. Also, be sure you watch the hair for nits that don’t come off with the comb and slide those off with your fingernails. You must remove EVERY.SINGLE.ONE. That is the only way to ensure that they don’t hatch and start the cycle all over again.
**** HINT***** To help with finding all the nits GO OUTSIDE!! If at all possible do the combing and nit picking outside in direct sunlight. This makes them so much easier to see, especially in blond or light hair.
4. Blue dawn, shampoo, conditioner and tea-tree oil:
7.YEARS.LATER…..when your eyes are crossed, your child has cried until they’re dry, and your head and neck will need chiropractic treatment for the next 30 years, you are FINALLY ready to rinse.
Time to get the oil out, this will take two or three good washings. First, wash the hair with Original Blue Dawn dish-soap to remove the oils. Dawn will cut the grease without harming the hair. Remember they use this stuff on wildlife during oil spills, so while it isn’t exactly chemical free and crunchy, it is fairly safe, and you aren’t going to be using it on a daily basis.
Next, after one or two washes with the Dawn, you are ready to shampoo and condition with your normal, favorite products. Before you start, add a few drops of tea-tree oil to both the shampoo and conditioner. It won’t change the smell much, but it will leave a mild scent that will help to repel future bugs. Shampoo, condition, and comb out the tangles. That’s it. Double check for nits and keep a close eye out for any missed hatchlings. I do repeat the olive oil treatment at least once more 5 to 7 days later. If the infestation were a heavy one, I would repeat it every 5 days until I was sure nothing remained.
WAIT!!!! You are NOT done yet!! You’ve treated the head, but you still have to make sure there aren’t any bugs lingering around waiting to take up residence again.
Whole House Treatment:
This is the part that gets extremely time-consuming. However, if you skip or slack on these steps, you are likely going to see a re-infestation.
- Mix up a spray bottle with vinegar, tea-tree oil and water. I use 2/3 vinegar, 1/3 water, and 20 – 30 drops of tea-tree oil. Gather all stuffed and plush toys that can’t go into the washer or dryer and spray them with this mixture.
- Then bag these up tightly in dark plastic bags, double bag them, and then place them in a garage, attic, or storage building if you have one available, keep them in storage for at LEAST 2 weeks. If you don’t have a garage, attic or storage, just find an undisturbed corner of a closet, or laundry room where they won’t be brought out.
- Strip all beds, gather all towels, blankets, and any washable pillows and plush toys. Wash everything you can in HOT water, if it can’t be washed, but it can be dried, dry on the hottest setting for at least 1 hour. For dark items that can’t be washed in HOT water, wash them as normal and then put them on the hottest setting, that is safe, in the dryer.
- Spray mattresses, furniture, and anything that can’t be bagged or washed with the vinegar/tea-tree oil spray and vacuum thoroughly. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum.
- Re-treat as needed throughout the house.
Preventing future infestation:
There are a few steps, that while they won’t guarantee you will never see a louse again, they definitely make you a less than inviting host.
Don’t keep your hair too clean. Contrary to popular opinion, lice to do not like dirty hair, they like clean hair. Skip a few days between washing, spray some hairspray on every morning, add a little gel after shampooing, add other styling products. Anything that makes the hair just a little dirty, will make it less than desirable to those creepy, crawly critters.
When you do wash, make sure you have tea-tree oil added to your shampoo and conditioner. This helps to repel the lice.
- Check hair daily, in the sunlight if possible. This is one of the best ways to prevent getting in a mess. Just a few minutes each day will help you catch it early. Check the nape of the neck, behind the ears, and in the center of the crown. One year, when lice was particularly bad at our school. I prevented the entire house from becoming infected by catching it when there were just one or two nits and one or two live bugs. Even though one child had it, we have NEVER had more than one have it at one time.
- Comb hair daily for at least seven days with the nit comb.
Well friends, this post has left me itchy. I’m off to shower, not wash my hair, and apply some tea-tree oil.