Saturday, my daughter was complaining about her head itching. She had thought that it was mosquito bites, but it had been going on for a while. I looked where she pointed out, but didn’t see anything. I bought her some itchy scalp shampoo when we were out. It never occurred to me to check further. Lice was the furthest thing from my mind.
Saturday night, my daughter was on the floor playing with the dog. She was wearing her hair in a half ponytail. You know, just the top part pulled back. I looked down and realized that she had lice. Groan!
Lice love her hair. Clean, soft and longish. She had lice more times than I care to remember when she was younger. Contrary to what many people think, lice like clean hair. It’s easy for them to get around. They don’t like thick, curly hair with lots of styling products on it like mine 😉
I pulled out the nit combs and started working, but there were so many! I found a live bug, so that was good. But I knew we would have to resort to chemical shampoos. The old bottle I had in the closet had expired in 2002. It’s been a while since we’ve had to deal with this! It was already past midnight, so off to super Walmart I went – while she stripped her bed and started vacuuming.
The lady who happened to be working in the shampoo aisle commented that I was the third person to buy that shampoo that night. She said, “Back to school, and they come home with lice!”
Actually, putting 2 and 2 together, and the fact that there were so many nits, we think she’s had it longer than that… but you never know where you get it. How no one else we know got it is a miracle.
Between the shampooing of both of our heads, bed stripping, bagging everything up, and vacuuming, it was 3:30 before we went to bed. That’s one of those things you have to deal with completely, right away – or else you’ll be fighting it for months.
If you’re new to dealing with this age-old problem – here’s what you need to do:
Get the shampoo and do the obviously infected head right away. Remember you are deal with a live bug that can travel quickly. Time is of the essence.
Check everyone’s head. If you find even one nit on their head, get them shampooed!
The most important part is to thoroughly go through the hair and pick out all nits (eggs). If you’re really lucky, you’ll come up with the bug too. Otherwise, it’s still around somewhere.
Wash all combs and brushes and hair ties in hot water.
You’ll need to strip the bed and get everything washed in hot water, and dried in a hot dryer – ASAP. Pillows too.
Bag up all of their clothes until you can get to them. Tie the bags shut. Anything that cannot be washed in hot water and dried in a hot dryer will have to stay tied in the bag for 30 days, so you’ll want to separate the clothes.
Bag up all stuffed animals. You will need to let them stay in the bags for 30 days.
Vacuum every inch of your house. All carpet and upholstery. Every pillow, every corner. I prefer not to use the lice spray.
For some reason, they don’t live on your pets. Thank goodness, right?
Now most of you will have someone to help. I’ve been a single mom through all of these episodes, so I’ve had to do it mostly by myself. By yourself, it takes forever, and you’ll want to sit down and cry, but you have to get it done. Get everyone moving!
As tempting as is may be to leave part of it for tomorrow – believe me, you want to get it done right away. All it takes is one little bugger to still be free and you’ll have a re-infestation and you can start all over again.
You can do it without chemicals if the infestation isn’t too bad. If you’ve only found 3 or 4 nits, and you get the bug, and you diligently follow through with all of the cleaning. I really wouldn’t recommend it.
I tried all those other treatments – Vaseline – boy was that awful! Don’t do it! Tea Tree oil, didn’t work at all. I swore I was going to find an old hair dryer with a bonnet if she kept getting lice.
And your head is going to start itching. It’s a mental thing. I swear! I’ve never actually had lice myself, but boy my head itches every time we go through this. I keep running the nit comb through my hair – just in case…
It’s not fun. But it doesn’t mean that you are dirty. Don’t be embarrassed about it. You only need to be embarrassed if you don’t take care of it.
And if you don’t take care of it, you can infest the entire neighborhood.
Oh yeah, the other fun part – you have to let people know so they can be checked. It’s the right thing to do. Besides, they might come and re-infect you. Yep, what goes around comes around.
Anyway, you’ll need to re-do the shampoo in 7-10 days in case anything still lived or hatched. I would do the whole house vacuum thing again too.
And no matter how much they beg, don’t take the stuffed animals out of the bag for 30 days.
I wish there was something I could say to make it better, but it stinks. There’s just no sugar coating it.
At least your house will be really clean!
See, there is an upside to everything J