Back in July, we discovered that the girls in our house had lice. We are not 100% certain how we got it, but we have our suspicions. Apparently, one of my girls had it for several weeks before we discovered it and her scalp was covered in black/brown stuff. Another daughter had several bugs and nits and my youngest daughter and myself had a handful of bugs and nits. I believe that I got it due to the girls using my hair brush, a practice that has since ended. If you think you may have lice in your home, you can check out these photos to compare.
I held off on posting this because I wanted to be certain that the lice was truly gone. All it takes is ONE nit to start an infestation again. I can happily say that I am confident that we successfully eradicated all the lice in our house and on our heads from the infestation and we did it without the commercial lice treatments. I would want to avoid those treatments anyways, but due to nursing a newborn, I wanted to avoid them even more. Plus, we had 4 people to treat and it was going to get expensive very quickly to buy all those treatments. So how did we do it? I am going to list the things we did, but please note, I cannot credit any one thing, nor can I promise that they will work for you. I researched online how to get rid of lice and then tried the things that made sense to me. Here are my tips:
- Removing the nits is the absolute most important step in getting rid of lice. Commercial treatments do not kill or remove nits. The only way to remove the nits is to either let them hatch and remove the bugs, hoping you catch all of them before one is ready to start laying eggs again, or remove them manually with a comb and/or your fingernails. We started with some good quality metal combs
, but did not get rid of the last nits until we switched to the Terminator comb. What makes the Terminator so much better is that it pulls each strand of hair around its' teeth, shredding any eggs that it does not remove. You can find the comb in stores, but we bought ours on Amazon. Here is a picture of it so you know what you are looking for:
- Protect yourself as you comb through someone else's hair. My husband thought the bugs would attach to his shirt so he did it shirtless and while the bugs did not stick to him (body lice is different from head lice), they did bite before they dropped off of him. If you have long hair, pull it up into a tight ponytail, or even better, a bun. You can also buy a shield spray to protect you.
- I had also read that Medicated Denorex will kill any live bugs and alter the DNA of any viable nits. I do not know if this is true, but due to the amount of dandruff we were also dealing with, we decided it wouldn't hurt to try it. It is a chemical and there is some question (in the online community) as to its safety, but it rinses out much sooner than the other lice treatments, so we chose to try it. If you do try it, it must be the Medicated Denorex, not the extra strength or therapeutic.
- We bought a black light to help us better see the nits and bugs. They fluoresce under the black light. The problem is so does dandruff and other bits of lint that may have collected in the hair. Who knew how much stuff we had on our heads day-to-day?
- For my daughter that had so many bugs in her hair, and the thickest and curliest hair of all of us, we also decided to coat her head in olive oil and put a shower cap on it overnight. The idea is that the oil smothers the bugs and the shower cap catches them. She absolutely hated this and, while it did catch a few bugs, I would skip this step in the future unless nothing else was working.
- It is also very important to keep up with vacuuming and laundry, especially of bedding, towels and shirts. We vacuumed the girls' bedroom, my bedroom, the living room, the couches, and the mattresses and pillows every day at least once and every time we combed through someone's hair, we vacuumed that area as well. We also washed all stuffed animals and dolls that they had in their room. They were okay with all but one of them being put away until after the lice was eradicated so daily washing was not necessary. The one that we could not put away, was washed daily. When washing, use detergent and HOT water. If there is anything you cannot wash, put them into a black garbage bag, close it securely and set it aside for several weeks. This will kill off any bugs and nits that may be on them. We also dealt with ours in the summer, so if it is colder weather when you are dealing with the lice, be sure you wash hats and coats daily as well.
- This will not help you get rid of the lice, but it is an important note. Be sure you tell anyone whose home you have been in, who has been in your home for an extended amount of time, or who may have otherwise been able to pick up any bugs. By letting them know, they can catch it early if they did in fact pick up any bugs. Plus, let's face it, having lice can be embarrassing, and not something people want to talk about. If you let them know you have had it recently, they are much more likely to let you know that they have it, allowing you to make an informed decision when it comes to visiting them or having them visit. Having said that, lice is not forever and you do not need to isolate yourself until you are 100% certain it is gone. Use your judgement and react in a way you would want others to react if they were in the same boat. You may want to avoid sleepovers for a while, but attending a picnic would be fine.
I am curious to hear if any of you have had to deal with lice and what worked, or didn't work, for you.
While I do have some affiliate links in this post, no company sponsored this post in any way. I did not receive any products, cash or otherwise in exchange for this information. Everything I wrote above is exactly what we did to get rid of the infestation we had.