How I battled head lice and won

When we last left our heroine, she was about to save her helpless child from a repulsive infestation of head lice!

(You can get all caught up with how I discovered the infestation here.)

Say it with me, y’all: “Ewwwwww!”

I couldn’t agree more.

Even though I was as skeeved as could possibly be, there was really no choice but to suit up and duke it out with those beasty blood-sucking bastards.

As a serial do-it-yourselfer, I really wanted to see if I could McGyver a solution out of everyday household items like duct tape, lighter fluid, and a weed whacker, but my inner parenting voice said no.

So instead, I turned to the refrigerator and the box o’ dog grooming supplies.

That’s right, people. Armed with nothing but a large jar of Hellman’s and my dog’s plastic flea comb, I set to work.

(NOTE: I chose the flea comb, which was clean and hadn’t been used in years, because it had very fine teeth. However, if you go that route, take it from me and do not share that detail with your child’s teacher or school nurse. Trust me on this one.)

First I combed out as many bugs and nits as I could find. Then I slathered my child’s head with my least favorite condiment, combed it through, and wrapped my child’s melon with cling wrap…being careful not to cover his/her nose or mouth. (I know – best Mom ever.)

The Google said the mayo would need to be on for 8 hours to properly suffocate the live lice. Unfortunately for us, our dog wouldn’t leave my sandwich-flavored child alone and we only got 3 hours of “mayo time” in before the grease dripping down his/her neck and the constant attention from the dog drove my child to the brink of insanity.

“MOM! HELP! IKE IS LICKING ME AGAIN!”

So we washed out the mayo, or tried to at least. I haven’t seen hair that greasy since I accidentally left the lid off the Vaseline jar when Mini-Me was a toddler.

Worried the partial mayo treatment wasn’t going to be effective, I looked for another home remedy…preferably one that wouldn’t kill any of my child’s brain cells or turn him/her into an extra large dog treat.

After thoroughly researching the myriad options…

I chose The Cetaphil Treatment to rid my child of lice.

In a nutshell, it requires thoroughly covering the hair with a copious amount of Cetaphil facial cleanser, and thoroughly blow drying it so as to “shrink-wrap” each hair strand therefore suffocating the live lice.

It took three afternoons, evenly spaced three weeks apart, and was a bit labor intensive (takes a lot longer to blow dry hair that is saturated with Cetaphil), but it was safe and it worked. We are officially lice-free.

Supposedly with The Cetaphil Treatment, removing nits is optional because the three weekly treatments completely interrupt the life cycle. But I didn’t want to take any chances, so I ended up buying a professional nit-picking comb called the Nit Free Terminator Lice Comb. The extra-fine stainless steel teeth are much more effective (and less disturbing to others) than my dog’s plastic flea comb.

Oddly enough, I actually enjoyed the nit picking process. This probably comes as no surprise to my husband who has been the brunt of my figurative nit picking for the last 18 years. There was just something remarkably Zen about methodically combing through small sections of coconut scented wet hair in search of buried treasure. Maybe I’m just weird, but I dug it. Perhaps because it was one of the few elements of my life where I could actually see my progress and feel like I was accomplishing something.

How I battled head lice and won by The Bearded Iris

It was also a great opportunity to have uninterrupted conversations with my child. Not that I would recommend a head lice infestation as a way to connect with one of your kids on a deeper level, but seeing the nit comb as half full rather than half empty is one of my finer qualities.

I’ve also learned there are folks who rid people of lice for a living! Apparently they make big bucks too. So I’m thinking I could become a Professional Nit Picker if this blogging thing doesn’t work out. Hey, I already own the comb.

So the moral of this story is this…

1.)  Lice happens.

2.)  Trust your gut and know what to look for.

3.) DON’T PANIC!!!!!!!!!!

4.) Buy a good nit comb. If you have kids, you’re going to need it eventually.

5.) Learn the facts and find the Zen in nit picking.

Or hell, pay me to do it for you—special pricing for readers of The Bearded Iris!

Honestly, the hardest part of this experience was the embarrassment of having to notify the school and my child’s friends. But most of them had been through it before and were very compassionate about the whole thing (the ones who replied, that is). My child was even invited to a slumber party by one of those parents, so I’m relieved to know that we aren’t marked for life…at least for head lice, anyway. {Bless our hearts.}

Tune in next time and I’ll share some tried-and-true tips I’ve learned from other parents and teachers on how to reduce your child’s chances of getting lice in the first place. You’ll be glad you did!

Triumphantly yours,
Leslie The Lice Lambaster

About The Bearded Iris

Leslie Marinelli is a writer, humorist, blogger, life hacker, and invisible vessel for grandchildren and PTA donations.
This entry was posted in health, kids and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to How I battled head lice and won

  1. Alison says:

    I love you so hard for your alliterated sign off.

    As weird as it sounds, and as disgusted as I am by the thought of picking out lice, I do understand how satisfying it can be to dig those buggers out. Kinda like peeling off sunburned skin. Or digging out your child’s boogers.

    (and thank you for the tip on the Cetaphil treatment, here’s hoping I NEVER have to worry about it – ah, who am I kidding?)

  2. Oh, barf. I would just hire you. Yes, I said barf.

  3. Sarah Nava says:

    So. . . Important question. . . If I put this stuff on, oh, I don’t know, my cellulite or stretch marks, and then blow dry it. . . Will it shrink wrap them? Lol. I could use a shrink wrap layer! That’s all I’m sayin’!

    • That is an excellent question! I think it would only be temporary, if it did work, because when (if) you shower, it would come off. So, stick with Spanx…that’s what I do! :)

  4. Argh. I’m all itchy now.

  5. Okay, Leslie the Lice Lambaster.
    If my kids ever get nits, you’re my first call.

    Also, how do you feel about teaching my son how to drive and talking about tampon-usage with my daughter?

    Right.
    Some hard things I’m just going to have to do myself.

    Crap.

    • Debbie M says:

      Steps my mom used in teaching me about tampons:
      1) Made sure I learned how to read.
      2) Handed me a box.

      It’s possible she also told me why she liked tampons better than pads, or maybe she just said this was her favorite way to handle the situation. I do have a vague memory that she asked me aloud later if those would be acceptable and I was pleased to say yes. Tampons just seemed more macho, no, that’s not right, more studly, no, not right either, more courageous than pads.

      As you can see, I was not scarred by this method. My mom and I were both pretty big readers, though–we like learning by reading.

  6. Kj says:

    Ermahgerd! I am so happy to hear someone else say this! When I was 15 I caught the little bugs from my nephew and a year of the medicines and shampoos and sprays couldn’t take care of it. A. FREAKING. YEAR. It was gross. Finally, miraculously, mayo worked. Slathered that stuff on and blasted it with the hair dryer. Suffocated the little effers! Now I tell everyone about the mayo treatment and they look at me like I am completely nuts… until they try it.

  7. Astra says:

    We’ve gone this route too before! Don’t forget to put all his/her stuffies in a plastic bag for a day or two to make sure there are not lurkers ;-)

  8. Oh Leslie!! What a nightmare. My nieces have had them, so I have heard of the pain that is lice removal. Great explanation of the horror and the treatment, though. :)

  9. Mary says:

    I haven’t used them, but here in MN there are lice clinics you can take your kids to. They do all the combing and nit picking and I think it’s about $100.00. I think I spent more than that with the constant washing, buying of any and all lice removal products and my insanity of having to deal with the problem. My daughter has long THICK hair, which she inherited from me, so of course she wanted to share her infestation.
    PS, We got a prescription shampoo from the Dr. after I went in and demanded it. One treatment overnight and it kills the nits too. It smells like pine.

  10. Laura says:

    Tea tree oil, Peppermint oil, and lavender oil are all natural lice repellents. We just use the Paul Mitchell tea tree oil shampoo (it has all three essential oils) and haven’t had a problem yet. One of my daughters best friends just had an infestation and we did not have any. These are first graders… They hug and like to get up really close to one another when they talk. The shampoo is a little pricey, but is worth it’s weight in gold in my opinion.

  11. Lisa says:

    Did you have the itchy-twitchy heebie-jeebies for a couple of weeks? I have been battling a flea thing thanks to our lovely kitty Lila Bean. A flea thing means I have seen 3 fleas in my house so I’m assuming there are MILLIONS. I have been doing the borax treatment on the carpet followed up with a vacuum for the last 4 days. Today hubs is bringing home a steam cleaner. I’m hoping that will take care of the problem and I won’t have to resort to poison bug bombs. But yeah, I’ve had the creepy-crawlies all week.

  12. Kate says:

    I have a question I’ve always wondered… do the kids have to stay out of school? How does that work? I am terrified my daughter will get lice one day. She has very fine, long, curly hair that gets snarled like crazy if you breathe anywhere near her. It’s a serious fear of mine. And my son’s allergic to mayo, so if he gets it, we can’t do that trick, so I love the Cetaphil idea. Congrats on ridding yourselves of those nasty beasts!

  13. Thank God they have come up with a safer alternative to rid the lice. Yeah, we did the mayo thing and sent our kids off to school smelling like greasy salad heads. But the only thing that finally cured us was to slather on toxic poisons that would also kill any other living bug within a 3 mile radius. But hey, the kids survived, the lice didn’t, and life was good. I’ll have you know young lady that after reading your first post in the lice, my son yelled that there was some kind of little black bug 0n his arm–I raced over there–it was a damn flea from the dog…. but holy crap I can’t stop itching my head ever since your post, dammit!

  14. Jester Queen says:

    The winner and STILL Champeen. I’m fighting off deer tick paranoia myself right now, after a day at the YMCA summer camp.

  15. Angie says:

    I never should have commented on the first post…can you come to Alabama with your comb and some clorox and some gain and some trash bags? One more week of freaking school…we made it all year and in the last week the little bastards decide to show up!

  16. Lisa Hewitt says:

    So glad to know I am not the only one that does not favor the mayo.

  17. Momchalant says:

    When I was younger, I had lice on and off for two years. Yes, TWO YEARS. It was horrible. My mom almost shaved my head but I refused. I had everything from mayonnaise to olive oil in my hair, picking those little suckers out daily, sometimes multiple times a day.

    I honestly can’t remember how we beat it but to this day, people from my elementary school still know me as the girl that had lice. I had lice for so long the school had weekly checks. Ooops.

    • Oh you poor thing! That is awful. Lice can be VERY hard to remove if you don’t break the life cycle and kill the new hatchlings consistently. Sad that kids can be so mean…I bet MOST kids get lice at one time or another. They are very easily spread in school environments. Totally not your fault, honey.

  18. Angela says:

    Washing the kid’s hair with Dawn dish soap should help cut the oil, it’s what I use to spot treat my clothes when I eat something really greasy.

    Also, there was a lice outbreak on Homecoming weekend when I was in 7th grade, everyone in the school had to be checked, and if you had lice, you had to use the icky scary shampoo and get rechecked before they’d let you into the gym that evening.

  19. When my 7yo with Rapunzel-like hair comes home from school with lice and I’m freaking out online about it, remind me of this post, okay?

    And I may just need to ship you up to Boston to zone out and nit-pick. ;-)

  20. You go girl! I too am a fantastic nit picker. Some of the best advice you gave in this post is to buy that lice comb preemptively. Because you know it is usually between 8pm and 11pm when you realize the bastards have invaded your domain.
    Now excuse me while I go off to compulsively scratch my head.
    Ellen

  21. Suthrnorkid says:

    Today the daycare found a pesky bugger today on my 8 yo! Argh!! She has blonde, thick hair down to her tushy! So a quick web search on home remidies and assessment of what I had available = Listerine & pine sol! Yep, 3/4 Listerine to 1/4 pine sol, 1 Wal-Mart plastic bag…1.5 hrs later no live bugs! Woo-hoo! Just thought I would share… Also the plastic flea comb didn’t get the eggs…darn it! So I’ll be doing this again in a few days and buying a lice comb.

    Now I’m going to go do more laundry and scratch…

  22. Annalyn says:

    I have long, ridiculously thick hair and I got lice 3 years ago. My sister also has really long hair that is thick (and curly) and I got it from her so she battled it out with me. We got rid of it in 1 week without all the poisons and hair damage (because the thought of damaging my waist length hair made me sick to my stomach!). Here is what we did:

    Slather on a generous amount of a mix of coconut oil and tea tree oil onto hair. Lice don’t like coconut or tea tree oil. Sleep with cling wrap on overnight for at least 12 hours. Wash hair thoroughly then rinse with vinegar, which will loosen the glue on the eggs. Then use a nit comb to comb out all the nits you can find. Let hair dry naturally then do it AGAIN the next night to make sure all the adults are killed form the coconut and tea tree oil and also to double check that all the nits are gone. Wait a day or two and repeat if necessary. Also, be sure to wash bedding on the hottest cycle and vacuum beds, pillows, couches, etc. and roll with tape twice daily. Voila! My lice were gone the FIRST time and my sister took a week to get rid of hers. And bonus, our hair was nice and soft from the coconut oil. :)

  23. Pingback: A Lice Interruption? OH GOD PLEASE NO. (Head lice humor) | Honest Mom

  24. Liz says:

    Thanks so much for your post!

    Our school policy allows kids to be readmitted with nits on the head but not lice. We got rid of the live lice but are still battling the stray nit here and there. I’d like extra insurance and try out the Cetaphil treatment.

    My question is this after we shrink wrap the hair with the blown dried in cetaphil– does the hair look normal enough for the kid do run around town? Go to school? That kind of thing? Or is it best to apply the treatment, send the tyke off to bed, and then an early AM shower before school?

    Heck I wouldn’t mind applying it to my own head at this point. So far no one has found anything on me but I am crazy itchy!

    Thanks in advance!

    Liz

  25. Jackie says:

    My family (9 kids) had this problem off and on for years. I finally got rid of it due to straightening my hair every day sometimes every other day took about a month but it worked and ive not had them since. Best thing that ever happened to me was buying a straightened. Hair looks great and bye bye lice lol

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