“She has it.” As the words hit me I knew exactly what the school nurse was calling about. My daughter had “it.” Lice. Parents had been informed a couple of days prior that there was an outbreak at school and I took immediate action after learning of the outbreak. I raced to a kids’ salon near my house after work and purchased preventative products. Lice was not going to come into my house. Not if I could help it. My kids attend the same school (Preschool-8th grade) so I immediately soaped them up and sprayed them down after school.
But I was too late.
I didn’t know it at the time, but my daughter had already been “contaminated”. The preventative products do just that, they help to prevent. They don’t do anything if the damage has already been done.
I was asked to immediately come and pick her up from preschool. I didn’t even contemplate seeing if my husband could more easily escape from work that day. I decided to take charge. I knew this was only a job for me (and my control issues).
Moms, here is where the real fun begins.
It’s not just about getting the lice and eggs from your child’s head. You have to ensure there are no eggs in your house. Where can eggs live? Anywhere! This day will go down in history as one of the craziest and most stressful days of my parenting journey so far. I am probably blessed that this is the case but nonetheless, it was horrible. Is your head itching a bit even just from reading this?
If you get the dreaded call from school, part of the battle is knowing what to do. Where is that parenting handbook?! I consider myself somewhat of an expert now so I feel it is my duty to share with you some helpful tools and tips.
1) Get your kid soaking in a solution
• Most drug stores will sell Nix or similar products for at home lice treatment. These treatments work! The problem I found wasn’t in killing the lice. It was in getting out all the nits AKA the eggs even after you kill them (this will be addressed later)
• Natural remedies include essential oils. Add 5-20 drops of essential oil (tea tree, peppermint, nutmeg, lavender etc) to regular shampoo. If using the natural remedy, you will need to shampoo daily to ensure nothing live remains on the scalp. An option I like is taking a mixture of the essential oil with coconut oil and letting it sit for about 15 minutes. Repeat daily. The oils are from plants that have natural insecticidal properties.
2) Wash/bag up/freeze the house. While my daughter was lathered up in her solution, I got to work on the house.
• Freeze items for 30 minutes. We have two decent sized freezers so I bagged up stuffed animals and anything else I could fit into the freezer. It took several 30 minute rounds but is quicker than the other options.
• Bag it up tight for 2 weeks. This will suffocate the lice. You will need to use this option for large items (like pillows) that won’t fit in the freezer.
• Wash and dry. Sheets, pillow cases, car seat covers
• The whole house- not just the room of the contaminated. This was hard. I stripped all bedding, stuffed animals…literally the entire house. Siblings’ belongings should all be packed up. It will take forever and will be exhausting. But you have to ensure there are no eggs lingering anywhere. At all.
• Spray couches (I went crazy with this) and other large items with either some of your natural remedy from a spray bottle or with an item such as a Nix product.
3) Comb the eggs out. If you thought the process of bagging up the house was time consuming, you will soon know that’s nothing compared to combing out the nits/eggs from the hair. My daughter is only three but has long hair. I used a comb that came with my Nix kit.
• Part their hair into very small sections
• Strand by strand, you will have to comb through grabbing any eggs you find
• They are tiny. They look like a sesame seed but smaller. My husband literally couldn’t see them so that turned out not to be helpful when I wanted him to take a shift on her hair
• Getting a child to sit for hours on end will require TV and snacks. Make sure you have those.
4) Find out the school policy. Most schools will allow the child back once the treatment has been given. This means the lice and eggs are dead. It can take weeks to get all the dead eggs and shells out.
• Our school has a no nit policy. While I appreciate this since it means students cannot have anything lingering, it also was quite de-motivating since it’s basically impossible to get them all combed out in one evening.
• I had combed my daughter’s hair for 4 hours. 4 hours! And still, I hadn’t gotten all of the nits out. They are basically glued to the hair. No joke. You will only understand this torture if you have experienced it.
• If your school does not have a no nit policy, you will want to send your kid back to school but continue combing daily until all the dead eggs and shells are removed.
• If your school has a no nit policy— you may find yourself where I ended up (#5)—
5) Seek Professional Help. No, not like therapy (well, maybe). I found out there are Lice Removal Facilities. Yes, these places actually exist! Google them and you can probably find one in your area. In the end, I did go this route. But unfortunately it was after hours and hours of trying to do it myself. For me, the $100 was well worth it which is about what this will cost you.
• I would have had to keep my daughter out of preschool for at least another couple of days which would have meant also missing work. The benefits outweighed the cost for us.
• After about 1 hour, the lice removal specialist had removed about 75 nits from my daughter’s hair! And that was after my combing it for hours on end. Incredible!
• Should Lice hit our house again, I will use this option again and save myself the huge hassle of hours of combing.
6) If you can, buy this! It’s called the Nit Terminator and it lives up to its name. I got this off of Amazon in case we have future outbreaks in our house
7) Breathe. Moms, it will be ok. I found myself being embarrassed initially that this happened. Lice are attracted to clean hair. They also hate things like dry shampoo and hair dryers. So, basically I am an unlikely living environment for them. But a small kid with long hair who never uses a blow dryer and hugs her friends a lot (AKA head to head contact), the Lice love that!
• Moms, it is not your fault and it’ not embarrassing. All you can do is deal with it and move on. You will be a stronger woman because of it!
Have any Lice horror stories? I’d love to hear and commiserate with you!