Parents - tell me about head lice

So Moon Unit’s been complaining about her head itching for a few weeks, since she got back from summer camp. We were distracted with getting ready for our family vacation so didn’t pay too much attention. Then this past Friday I noticed she had a rash on her neck, just below the hairline - behind the ears and to the nape.

So I checked her scalp and yep, she brought back more than a suntan from summer camp (it’s conceivable she had 'em even before though the itching complaints started afterward). :eek: :barf: (we need that smiley!!)

A quick visit to the pediatrician to confirm what I thought I saw, a trip to the pharmacy to get 2 treatments’ worth of Nix (we were told to do it that day, then repeat in a week), and she was rid of the adult population. Now, I know the retreatment is necessary to get any that have hatched in the interim; it’s nearly impossible to get all the nits (and hers in particular seem to be the color of her hair rather than white so I miss most of them).

Anyway - I’m doing a full “divide and conquer” comb-through every day. Alternate days this happens after soaking her hair and scalp in olive oil. If I don’t do the olive-oil soak-through I’m finding nearly nothing. Few nits maybe, but no evidence of critters. This I think gives me false hope. If I do the olive-oil, I’m much more likely to get adolescent critters - found a fairly large one last night that clearly I’d missed the day before. Maybe it’s because they’re able to escape my comb more easily if I don’t oil things up first. I don’t think the oil smothers them, as I’d been led to believe.

Interestingly, the pediatrician pooh-poohed the idea of doing olive oil, mayo, or whatever.

We are of course laundering her sheets daily in hot water, and washing/machine drying the one stuffed toy she really cannot sleep without (all the rest have been washed if possible, bagged up if not possible, and put out of reach for the next couple of weeks).

So - advice, commiseration, etc. gratefully accepted. I’m really hoping that with the second Nix treatment (tomorrow), and a full week after that of daily comb-throughs, will get rid of these beasts.

Keep up with the Nix treatments for the next couple of weeks, and that’s for everyone in the house, not just her.

Continue washing the bed clothes every day, pillows included. Spray the mattress with diluted bleach and let it air out during the day.

If you have carpets, get them steam cleaned. Soak any combs and brushes in boiling water after use. Any towel used to dry hair wash right after using.

If push comes to shove and the Nix doesn’t get rid of the lice, there is one other option. Washing her hair in kerosene will get rid of them. This is a last ditch, nothing else is working, contemplating shaving everyone bald to get rid of them option. If you have to resort to this, be very careful not to let it get in her eyes, and make sure to wash it thoroughly several times with shampoo before combing it out.

I know it sounds weird, and dangerous, and it is on both counts. However, growing up, there was a time or two when doing all of the above didn’t work, and the kerosene did.

Ew. Ew. Ew. I dread the day my kids come home with them. I have no advice, only sympathy. I don’t know why the ped didn’t like the idea of the oil but if it is helping I don’t think you are damaging anything. Plus it will make her hair all shiny and pretty.
Yes, I do believe that full chemical warfare is the only option (olive oil notwithstanding). If the next round of Nix doesn’t work, shave her head, coat the scalp in peroxide and have her fitted for a metal skullcap. OK, not really. Lice just really creep me out.
How’s she holding up? Is she grossed out?

Can it be kids, too? I had head lice when I was 10, got it from India. And I have curly hair which snarls as soon as you look at it.

It was a bitch, but we managed it without any mayo or olive oil. I really wouldn’t recommend those things; why would you use them when the doctor expressly said no? Especially the mayo.

Don’t let anyone lay down next to her, and you’re keeping her friends away, right? And yes, everyone should be using the stuff.

The Nix worked fine for me as long as we followed the regimen exactly. But it is hard to get that crap out of your hair.

Commiseration gladly granted, but it’s not that big of a deal, and she’ll be fine. Head lice doesn’t necessarily mean she’s dirty, it means someone else at camp was dirty. She’ll get over it, and so will you. :slight_smile: Just think about this - the girl who I caught it from knew she had it and just sort of ignored it. She had waist-length hair and didn’t want to cut it. Yuck.

Now I’m itchy.

ETA: If you really want to use the oil, why olive oil? Why not go to an Indian store or Middle Eastern store and get some real hair oil? I’ve never heard of anyone putting olive oil in their heads, it just sounds so…like you’re going to slap her head on the frying pan. :slight_smile: Seriously, there’s some wonderful oils in ethnic stores, perfect for hair.

I have heard that all the extra washing outside of bedclothes is unneccessary, steam cleaning carpets is definitely overkill IMO. The adult lice cannot survive more than a few hours off their host.

White nits are the empty cases, nits are usually tan or black and positioned near the scalp.

Sounds like the worst of it is past, keep up the combing. ANd that is about it. I have heard the mayo or oil suffocate the lice. I have also heard shampoo with eucalyptus oil is a good repellant.

I agree about the barfy smile.

good luck, is all I can say.

I had a recurring case of them for about three months when I was in fifth grade, and then got them again in sixth. ugh, GOD, it’s nasty. there’s nothing worse than the feeling of bugs crawling around on your HEAD.

my advice is to just do the treatment for at least one more go-round. even if you don’t see anything for awhile, go through at least two and possibly three rounds of treatment and continue to wash EVERYTHING fabricky that she comes in contact with. (keep an eye on your furniture, and vacuum frequently!) they are persistent as all-get-out; not to mention, you aren’t exactly the most popular kid in school after a bout with lice, so when you get rid of 'em, make sure you’re really, really rid of 'em.

I’m not a mom, but I had lice when I was 17. I got it from some kids I was baby-sitting at the time.
I had really long hair, and the Rid treatments didn’t work. I tried it twice and just couldn’t get rid of them. That comb was sheer hell…running the tiny teeth with miniscule gaps through waist-length hair? Impossible.

So I tried something different. Bought a giant bottle of rubbing alcohol, poured it in a bowl and dunked my head in. Covered my scalp completely and stayed there for a minute or so. Then I wrapped my wet hair in a towel and left it there overnight. The next morning I showered they were gone.
I did the bedding thing too, and took my giant stuffed dog and sealed him up for 3 weeks.

It’s worth a try…rubbing alcohol is cheap.

The thing is, and I know everyone’s reluctant to do this, but I really recommend cutting your hair. I understand LunaV’s point about waist-length hair, but it’ll grow back. Better to have it short - it’s so much easier to wash and comb, wash and comb.

But I do understand if people just can’t bring themselves to do it.

The problem with things like Rid and Nix is that today’s new and improved head lice have become somewhat immune to it. And if even one egg is missed or not killed, the cycle starts anew!

We battled them for a long time, and finally got rid of them through a very non-conventional method. Check your private messages.

Good luck!

Thanks to some filthy relatives coming over uninvited several times and my not (at that time) having a policy of checking every head that came through the door, I had to go through this with my daughter off and on for weeks before we finally found out where the fuckers were coming from. The Nix works well enough in combination with the comb-through routine. You will be fine so long as you make sure that everyone with whom you had contact in the weeks prior to figuring out that she had the lice is notified and treated. You need to make sure you treat yourself and everyone else in the family, evidence of infection or not. Trust me.

Because our crap went on as long as it did and kept recurring, my pediatrician wrote me a script for this cream that is intended for scabies – it worked like a charm. Seriously, 1 application, no comb-through needed. You might want to ask for it if you ever have this issue come up again. I know I will, if my kids ever bring them home. There’s less chance of my daughter coming home with them, being a teenager, but my son is only in second grade this year. Luckily, his school has no carpeting whatsoever, so the risk is minimal for him. Boys don’t tend to share combs and hair things.

Good luck, and you have my sympathy.

Oh, and olive oil is great for your hair. If you want the softest, shiniest hair on the planet, olive oil works. The stuff was a gift from Athena, of course it has miraculous properties. So long as you rinse it out, that is :smiley:

Sometimes the bedclothes and steaming the carpet can be overkill. There are times however when that is what it takes, as I learned growing up. (Had lice problems every year from first grade until 8th grade.) While lice may only live hours away from the host, all it takes is one hopping off a person, the person doing what they think is their last treatment, then that one hopping back on to be re-infested. Steaming the carpets and washing the bed clothes help prevent that from happening.

Olive oil is reputed to be good for the hair and skin, outside of any lice-smothering properties it might have. And it’s available at the grocery store, which is convenient if you haven’t anywhere else to buy hair oil. One of my friends does her own hot oil treatment once a week with olive oil.

I have no advice, though. My sister, a bunch of my cousins, and I all were victims of a lice outbreak at our school when I was eight. As I recall, Nix and washing bedding and such in really hot water seemed to do the trick.

My mother taught second grade.

We did the delousing regimen quarterly for my entire life. I rejoiced the first time they did the delousing regimen and I was safely off at college, a thousand miles away and safe from Nix, teeny-tiny combs, and bleaching of the mattresses.

If the regimen is followed, the Nix is reasonably effective - but you need to use it for everyone in the house, I’m afraid.

I guess that coming from my culture as I have, olive oil is just kind of unusual. Honestly, I don’t even know if olive oil is common in the kitchen in India, let alone in hair.

So go on! Use the olive oil! :slight_smile:

I think the olive oil’s cool, too.

My son had them a couple of times last school year. I was terrified that I or my daughter would catch it, because I knew neither of us would be willing to cut our long hair! Fortunately the drugstore remedy and the washing and vacuuming did the trick. It was a whole lot of work though! My sympathies.

Hair oil - that’s an idea. I’ll see where the nearest such store is. I’d heard that people of African descent have less trouble with lice - not sure whether it’s the oils that many people put on their hair (the theory of my dentist’s receptionist, who is Black) or the different hair texture.

I went with olive oil because that was one of the solutions mentioned when I googled it (others being mayo or vaseline); it’s very readily available and cheap. Vaseline worked well for friends of ours a few years back but they did NOT recommend we try it as it was pretty much not removable from their hair.

I think the pediatrician we saw is not interested in “alternative” treatments; he’s a believer in the Standard Treatments. He did check my son and saw no evidence of critters; declined to check me but Typo and I spent a romantic (not) evening combing through each other’s hair and haven’t found anything yet, so we did follow the ped’s suggestion of not treating everyone else. Nobody else is having the itching symptoms, anyway. Hopefully we won’t regret that :confused: Based on what you guys are saying maybe we’ll do Nix on everyone. Or at least a wet nit-combing to see what shows up.

I have heard about the things becoming immune to Nix etc. which is a big part of why I’m being so (as Moon Unit says) hair-anoid and such a stickler for the combing, hoping to catch any that the Nix may have missed. It’s funny but she loathes the olive oil, even though those comb-throughs go much faster than the non-oiled ones - hair flops back when I think I’ve sorted it out, despite all my efforts to clip it out of the way.

I may resort to cutting her hair. It’s just now gotten to shoulder-length and she’s thrilled, so this timing sucks. It will grow back though. My own hair is also shoulder-length. Maybe we’ll get matching pixie cuts.

Oh yeah - re mayo or oil suffocating the lice: It clearly doesn’t do that here; I’ve combed out several live ones (born since the Nix treatment, judging by their size) during the oil-combouts. It may well make it harder for the eggs to adhere to hair (one big reason for using it though since I’ve been washing her hair afterward, may be of limited use) and I really think it makes it harder for them to escape my Comb Of Death ™

The chemical treatments available here in the UK just plain don’t work - the dosage of active ingredient is regulated to what is unfortunately a low enough level for the bugs to develop resistance, which they have.

So we have been forced to use mechanical methods, but these can be completely effective, if you’re diligent about them, and particularly if you use them together in a multi-pronged attack:
[li]Robicomb - this is an electronic combing device with electrified (but quite safe to use) prongs - as you draw it through the hair, it electrocutes the adult lice - this doesn’t kill them outright, but it makes them let go of the hair and they get lodged in between the teeth of the comb, for easy removal. It won’t remove the eggs or the really small nymphs, but it’s good for running through the child’s hair immediately after school, to remove any adult lice they may happen to have picked up that day.[/li][li]Conditioner and comb - apply liberal quantities of hair conditioner, leave it for ten minutes and then comb through the entire head of hair (a little at a time) with a fine plastic nit comb, washing the comb in a separate bowl after each stroke, to prevent re-introducing any bugs you catch. Repeat this treatment every three days for a month. It doesn’t suffocate them, but it makes it easier to dislodge them.[/li][li]Regular, thorough hair brushing - not only will this make the hair smoother and less tangled (and therefore make the above treatments less of a chore), but it will dislodge and remove some of the adult lice.[/li][li]Tea Tree oil and/or lavender oil - some people are dubious about these, but (anecdotally, of course) I consider them effective - when mixed with the hair conditioner before applying it (as above), the adult lice removed are conspicuously less active than without it (I have examined them under a microscope on several occasions under both regimes). Less active should in theory mean they’re easier to comb out - because they won’t be actively re-gripping hairs when they’re dislodged. It is alleged that the aroma of the oils remaining on the hair repels any further adult lice, but I have no idea if that is true to any degree.[/li][/ul]
Treating without insecticides like this is a war of attrition, but if you’re thorough and persistent, you should eventually prevail - as long as you’re removing them faster than they can reproduce, you’ll eventually eliminate them.

Robocomb! That cracks me up! I love it. Everything should be robotic!

Hair conditioner does the same thing - basically they can’t jump off if they’re caught in something. If you have a bath tub, I’d recommend doing the comb through there, the adult ones jump off and you can wash 'em away.

Hair inspection became a regular thing while my daughter was at primary school, once you are rid of them, just check once a week or so for nits (they prefer the hairline, particularly around the ears).

I only used a chemical lotion the first time (she’d get them about once a year), since I hadn’t picked up any tips on how to deal with them. After that it was conditioner, a nit comb, sometimes even finger nails were required if the comb didn’t get nits I’d spotted. I never needed to cut her hair, steam clean carpets etc (lice aren’t like fleas, you need fairly close contact).