How to Get Rid of Head Lice Once and for All!
Those Nasty Little Buggers: Head Lice
So many people have had to deal with a nasty little secret...head lice. So many people in fact that some say head lice is the second most common condition after the common cold! Approximately 12 million people in the America alone get head lice every year. So if you or your child have head lice, don't feel like you're the only one...because you are clearly not!
Having head lice does not mean that you are a dirty person. It also does not mean that you will be sick. Head lice are often attracted to clean hair and despite what you might imagine, head lice do not carry any form of disease that passes between humans like fleas or mosquitoes might. So rest easy. All you need is time and patience to get rid of these nasty little buggers once and for all!
Over the Counter Treatments: You Don't Need Them!
The first thing I will tell you is that most people's first mistake with attempting to get rid of head lice is that they listen to their doctors' and/or pharmacists' advice. Almost every doctor and pharmacist in the United States will tell you to buy an over-the-counter pediculicide to treat yours or your child's hair with.
The problem with this is that these over-the-counter pediculicides are not only nasty chemicals, they just don't work to remove the head lice!
The head lice species these days have evolved enough that they have grown immune to the over-the-counter products that one might find at the local pharmacy or grocery store. So do yourself a favor and don't waste your money on Rid, Nix, or the like. They are expensive and they are a complete rip-off! Which moves me on to my next point, how to actually get rid of head lice...
The One Way to Get Rid of Lice for Good!
Step Number 1: The one way to get rid of lice for good is combing.
You need to buy a good nit comb (again, not one that you will find in a local pharmacy or grocery store, these nit combs are not good quality and will not work) and begin combing through yours or your child's hair to find and remove the head lice...and also find and remove the nits. The type of comb we have used with success is called the Nit Free Terminator Lice Comb and can be purchased at certain beauty stores like Ulta or online through Amazon and other websites.
Some say it is easier to find the lice when the hair is wet or damp, while others prefer it to be dry. I would say to try washing the hair first with head and shoulders shampoo or tea tree oil shampoo and combing through it with the nit comb. These types of shampoo will work to at least stun the lice so that you can find them more easily.
Be warned: this process is going to take a LONG time the first time you do it. Because you will be manually removing the lice from the infected person's head, it could take anywhere from an hour to three hours or more to find most of the lice and nits. When you find a louse, pick it out with the comb and wrap it up in a paper towel and squish it. Throw it away or flush it immediately. You will know it when you find one...they are sometimes tiny but sometimes larger 6-legged bugs that crawl away when you move the hair around. The nits (lice eggs) are small white/cream/brown oval eggs that are firmly attached to hair strands. You'll need to remove the live lice, as well as the nits.
PLEASE NOTE: After you've done the initial nit-combing and louse-removal, you will have to repeat the combing process once a day for at least three weeks in order to eradicate every nit from the person's hair. This ensures that any left-over nits that might have hatched will be removed.
Now, if you don't have the time or patience to sit down and pick through your child's hair strand by strand, you could always look up a professional nit remover in your area and have them do it for a price. Most major cities have at least one or two companies that will even come to your house, clean your house for lice, and remove the lice from your child's head for a few hundred bucks!
Or if you have picked through your child's head and still don't feel 100% confident, take him/her to a professional to at least be inspected. This should cost less money but give you some peace of mind.
Facts and Myths Busted on Head Lice
Clean Your Home...Thoroughly!
If you do your research online, many websites will say to clean your home thoroughly, while others will say this step in the head lice process is not necessary. I believe it depends on the level of infestation, but because I can't see your child's head or your head to tell you, it's safer to go through the cleaning process to be sure you've eradicated any left-behind lice that might re-infest yours or your child's head after you've gone through the combing process.
Step number 2 is to clean your home's linens, furniture, and carpets thoroughly.
This involves washing the blankets, sheets, and pillowcases on yours and your child's beds in hot water and running them through a dryer on high heat. Then you'll want to throw each pillow into the dryer on high for at least ten minutes.
You'll want to vacuum any carpets where you or your child might have laid his/her head. If you have any small rugs, throw them in the dryer on high for 10 minutes. Any pillows and blankets on couches/sofas/lovesets/recliners, you'll want to throw them in the dryer on high for 10 minutes, as well.
Really any type of linens or upholstered furniture needs to either be washed/dried or vacuumed depending on what it is. This will serve to remove any free head lice roaming around waiting for the next hot head to crawl onto.
Another thing you'll want to think of is clothing and hats: wash all worn clothing, jackets, and hats in hot water and dry in the dryer on high. If yours or your child's laundry basket is made of fabric, you might want to think of washing/drying those too.
There is a spray you can buy from the pharmacy to spray your furniture, but again there's no guarantee these over-the-counter products actually do what they say they will.
Lastly, don't forget to either wash and/or dry your child's stuffed animals. If this is too much laundry for you, you can stick them in trash bags and tightly close the trash bags. Leave them in the bags for at least 3 days and any potential head lice will be suffocated to death.
Lice Prevention: Educate Your Child and Yourself!
The last step in removing head lice from your life once and for all seems like the easiest step but is probably the most effective in keeping the head lice away once they are gone. This will also prevent anyone else in your household from bringing these buggers home!
Step Number 3 is to educate yourself and/or your family members on how to prevent head lice infestation or re-infestation.
So how do you keep the head lice away for good? Head lice are passed back and forth between people usually by head-to-head contact. This means either by cuddling with another person or lying/sitting beside an infested person with heads close enough that allow the head lice to crawl from one set of hair to another.
Sometimes head lice can be passed through people sharing hats, hairbrushes, jackets, and the like. Though this isn't the most effective way that head lice move around, if they can help it. They like hot heads with a blood supply to feed them (sorry to be gross, but it's true).
So here's what you need to know and what your family members need to know and practice to prevent head lice:
1. Don't get your head close to others' heads for long periods of time. This means no long hugs, cuddling, or lying/sitting beside someone close enough that your hair touches. This often happens with schoolchildren, particularly girls and you can see why.
2. Don't share hats, hairbrushes, jackets with hoods, hairbands, etc. with others.
3. Don't lie on carpets, rugs, pillows, blankets, etc. at school or elsewhere where other people have been lying/playing.
Keep your head up, figuratively and literally! This is the only way to prevent getting lice again.
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© 2015 Nicole Canfield