Thursday, March 15, 2012

How to Get Rid of Lice

This morning I found a handful of nits (lice eggs) in my daughter's hair. Yuk. Thankfully (or not?) we've been plagued with lice enough times that I've tried everything, and I have come down to two methods that work better than any of the others. The first couple times my kids were hit, I scoured the internet looking for remedies. I went with chemicals because I was freaked out and panicky, and wanted those nasty bugs dead and gone immediately. But as it turns out, the chemicals are expensive - and you'd think it would be worth it, but it's not because they don't work that well anyway. I tried oil (olive oil - never tried the mayonnaise method), but it also didn't work that well, and it's a big mess. Over time, and a lot of trial and error, I came up two methods that work EXTREMELY well. And the best part is, neither of them entail putting chemicals or greasy oils in your child's hair.

I wanted to put my experience out there for the world to see, especially those of you who might be having a first time lice encounter. First of all, don't panic. Lice are nasty, yes. They're a lot of work to clean up, yes. BUT they cannot live off the human head for more than a day or two, so you don't have to go cleaning rooms that your kids never go into, or washing their winter coats in the middle of June, or anything crazy like that.

I always keep a can of "lice killer" {this IS a chemical} to spray on the furniture, mattresses, etc. Spray the kids' mattresses in the morning after they leave for school, or if they're not in school, then maybe right after nap time, so it has plenty of time to work and then wear off before they sleep on it again. For the furniture and the rest of the house, spray at night right before you go to bed, and keep your pets away from it too. It's a good idea to vacuum everything up later to get rid of the dead stuff and the chemical residue.

Wash the kids' bedding in hot water, and throw pillows and stuffed animals from their beds into the dryer for an hour on high heat. I would also do this with any stuffed toys they've been playing with in the past week or so, especially if you have a massive infestation, which you probably do your first time. Another method is to put toys into plastic garbage bags and seal them off for a week. As I said before, lice can't live more than a couple days away from a human head, but I'd give it a week just to be extra safe.

And now for the hair. My two proven non-chemical, non-goopy-hair methods:

Method #1: Flat Iron {aka: Hair Straightener}. Chances are, you have one of these in your home already, and if you do, I encourage you to try this first, that way you won't have to go buy anything. Heat it up, and just start "straightening" ALL hair, getting as close to the scalp as possible without burning your child's head. Lice lay their eggs very close to the scalp, and you want to burn those buggers!

Method #2: Robi Comb. You can buy it at CVS, or probably any other drug store or pharmacy. The end of it looks just like those little lice combs you get with the chemical treatments, but it's actually an electronic device that electrocutes the lice and kills them. The comb helps comb them out, and also kills the nits.

After either method, I would definitely spend time combing through your child's hair and hand-picking nits, just in case there are some stray live ones. I never had much luck with the nit combs, my fingernails work much better {gross, I know}. And re-check every day until you haven't found anything for several days in a row.

I've probably forgotten some important detail, because that's how my brain works. If you have any questions, leave me a comment. Hope this helps someone out there. Lice are horrible, and if you've never had them take over your home, count yourself very lucky.


  1. When I was little I used to get lice all the time... my thick hair was a magnet... but I did love to lay on my mom lap and have her nit-pick. It felt so good on my head! :)

  2. i got lice a few times as a kid . . . the worst part was having other kids i'd played with think i was dirty when my mom told theirs we had lice at our house. :(
    i'm hoping we never have to deal with the little bugs at our house . . .