Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday - Conquering Lice!

It's Wednesday and today I'm going to talk about something that plagues so many families with children. It's kept so hush hush that it's hard to get the proper information to combat the problem. I'm going to talk about lice.

I realize this is a touchy subject. If your kids have had it you're probably not announcing it from the rooftops. However, rest assured that lice is not something that is limited to people with poor hygiene or loose morals. Heck, even Countess de Lesseps has had to battle the horror that is head lice. Unfortunately, I have battled it, too.

In fact, I've battled it for close to a year on and off. We have three kids.Our three kids have six cousins who they play with constantly. All nine of these kids got head lice last summer. This made nine itchy kids, four exasperated mothers, and about a gazillion tears between all of us.

(My head is itching just typing this.)

The first thing we did was run to the drugstore and buy the typical over the counter medication that most parents will go for and follow the directions on the box precisely. Apply pesticide to head of child, allow pesticide to soak into child's scalp for entirely too long, rinse, apply goopy conditioner type product to child's head, comb through with plastic comb and watch the bugs fall off. Now wash every pillow, every blanket, vacuum, suffocate all stuffed animals in garbage bags, soak hair brushes and ties, don't sleep, don't eat, don't breathe until it is all done.

Lather, rinse, repeat in 7 days.

Between all of us, hundreds of dollars were spent but we were finally free from the bugs.

Or so we thought. At one point (and I can't even remember what point it was) one mother called another with tears in her eyes and said those two dreaded little words. "They're back."

So what did we do? We all checked our kids, we repeated the process. We looked into other alternatives. We read about coconut shampoo, denorex, mayonnaise, petroleum jelly, kerosene! Some things we tried and some things we were horrified by. We bought combs that literally zapped the bugs while combing, we coated our children's heads in coconut oil, we threw our hands up, we picked each other over like monkeys.

This went on and on until one day we discovered a solution.

It was so simple we were in disbelief. The best part was that it WORKED. For all of us! I want to shout this from the rooftops! I think everyone should know how we finally rid ourselves from the bugs. So I'm going to share it with you... bookmark it because you'll probably need it one day.

Supplies needed:
2 or 3 bottles of 91% rubbing alcohol (70% will probably work if you can't find 91%)
1 shower cap for each person being treated
1 good metal lice comb (don't skimp on this, get a good metal one)
1 empty spray bottle

Very simply, apply the alcohol to the child's head. Use enough to thoroughly saturate the hair and scalp. This process, unfortunately, is not pleasant. The fumes are bad so please use it in a well ventilated area. If it gets into the child's eyes it's truly terrible so if your child is too young to keep their eyes closed use the spray bottle at close range to apply and be careful. I haven't tried it but if I ever have to again on a young child I might have him or her wear goggles during this part. Once the head is saturated, cover it with a shower cap and leave it on for about 45 minutes.

During this time wash bedding and vacuum floors. Put hair brushes and hair ties in the freezer for 12 hours. Stuffed animals can be put in the dryer for 30 minutes on high heat. Mattresses, couches can be sprayed down with the alcohol to kill any lone bugs that may have escaped.

After the time is up, remove the shower cap and comb through the hair. My counterparts rinsed the alcohol out, but I actually just let the alcohol dry on the hair while I combed through. Comb through thoroughly and blow dry hair. No, their hair will not be fried or dead or fall out in some ridiculous fashion.... and you're not using pesticide!

Repeat the process in 7 days and you should find yourself lice free!

Now that you're all free from the bugs I'm sure you don't want to do this again, am I right? Lucky for you, I ventured into a lovely place called Lice Solutions which happens to be located in my area. The helpful people there answered all of my questions and suggested something that I am convinced has kept the bugs away from my children thus far. Mint based shampoo. Lice don't like the smell of mint and will look for another head to feast upon if your child smells of it. There are many on the market but I purchased this one from the people at Lice Solutions for about $9 (obviously more than it can be found for but they're a non profit and they were helpful so I'm looking at it as a bit of a donation.) A few days later I was in our local Big Lots and found the same brand of shampoo in a different bottle (older packaging) for a measly $1.50 a bottle. I scooped up all 16 bottles of the stuff at mine but your Big Lots might have some, too. :) If you can't score it at that bargain price, here's a coupon for it from Sally Beauty.

Burts Bees also makes a rosemary mint shampoo bar which I may pick up next time I see it because I think it might be easier for young children to wash their own hair with the bar rather than the liquid. I don't know about your kids, but for some reason mine tend to use 1/2 a bottle for one washing. But I digress....

My little munchkin heads are washed only in mint shampoo now and will only be washed in mint shampoos until they're old enough to purchase their own shampoo. Even further than that, I purchased a tea tree oil foot spray (tea tree oil smells a LOT like mint) and I spray it on their heads before they venture off to school every morning. So far, so good.

That's what works for me!

PS - See www.ourstickfamily.com to make cute little stick figures of your own. :)


Karen said...[Reply to comment]

My head itches as I type.
Yes, we have been there, done that. It's like a right of passage for both moms and kids. Many, many hours were spent combing and re-combing hair outside, so we could see better, on our picnic table. We planned the world's most elaborate birthday party that year while combing. Did I mention the combing? Years later I could finally laugh about it.
And I swear by the tea tree oil. I pour a cap full in a bottle of shampoo and about once a week I make every one use it. So far, so good.

Robin said...[Reply to comment]

I swear by rosemary oil - my kids don't leave the house without a few drops behind each ear and at the nape of the neck. Knock on wood, spit three times, etc., we haven't had any creepy crawly incidents in the years since we started doing this, despite lice being endemic in Israel!

For treatment I use melted butter and a shower cap basically the same way you use the alcohol. Works well with no harsh chemicals or fumes. You do have to shampoo a couple of times after the combing to get all the butter out, but I figure it's a small price to pay, and like I said, since we've been using the rosemary it hasn't been necessary (throwing salt over my shoulder to appease the fates).

Manic Mom said...[Reply to comment]

Totally itching right now but the thought of mint shampoo sounds heavenly!!!

We haven't had a lice outbreak here at the Manic house but it sounds dreadful!!!


Domestic Spaz said...[Reply to comment]

The mint shampoo IS lovely. It really makes you feel refreshed in the morning. :)

Michelle@Life with Three said...[Reply to comment]

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This post is soooo helpful! We had a lice scare last year -- a child at VBS came with lice. I freaked out, naturally, and did all the things you mentioned early on in your post. It was a nightmare. I am definitely bookmarking this page and going off to purchase some mint shampoo! :)

Kirstin said...[Reply to comment]

What great tips...thank you! My two girls ages 12 and 9 had never had it. They had even been around kids who had it and never got it. In January, I was out of town and on the day I was returning, got a phone call from hubby saying "we have lice"....WHAT!By the time I got home that evening they had it all under control, adn I haven't seen it since, but I just couldn't believe it.

My sister also said apple scented shampoo deters them.

And just for the record, my head is itching now too!

But don't tell my kids because they'll be paranoid.

The Apron Queen said...[Reply to comment]

I was a school nurse for awhile. I would do lice checks & itch like mad for hours afterward. Sonetimes I'd dream about the little bugs! :D

Thanks for sharing. I'm giving surfing lessons today. Come see!


Unknown said...[Reply to comment]

Hey, girl -- don't know if you remember me (Michelle from Life with Three!), but I finally am referencing this post (unfortunately). Do you still stand by this treatment method?

Domestic Spaz said...[Reply to comment]


Michelle, I'm so sorry! Yes! I still stand by it. We haven't had any issues since I've been using the mint shampoo on them so I haven't had to use it again, but I have recommended it to others with success.

It takes DILIGENCE, but it will work. Good luck!