Lice anyone??

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by happymomof2, Jun 3, 2008.

  1. happymomof2

    happymomof2 New Member

    Found them in daughters hair Sat. night. Have been washing clothes, bagging stuff, spraying stuff shampooing hair etc... My kids have had them 3 times since they first ever started school and they are now 15 and 12, so I guess we are lucky to a point. I never wanted to deal with them again. It's such a pain.

    Thought of everyone but myself - even checked hubby - he's fine. Took a shower last night and upon brushing my hair afterwards I checked the brush and found a live one. I have never had them. Put olive oil on my head last night and a shower cap. It was like 10:30 when I found it. Went to wallyworld this a.m. and bought more shampoo and spray. Going to sisters in a few so she can wash and go through my hair, then tonight just to be on the safe side I will wash hubby's as well.

    I don't understand why they say to bag stuff for 2 weeks. Supposedly the live ones can not live off a host for more than 48 hours. I even seen one website that said to bag everything for 4 weeks! I was going for 3 weeks. I guess that is to make sure if any eggs hatch they also can die. I have like 12 big black garbage bag full of things on my pool table.
    I hate this stuff!! :angry-very:

    If anyone has any suggestions or new ideas on how to deal with these critters let me know.

  2. mom_to_3

    mom_to_3 Active Member

    EWWWWWWWWWWWWW! I can only say that because MY daughters had them several times. It's disgusting and a lot of work! I feel for you for sure. I got tired of using the over the counter stuff, sometimes it was not effective and my daughters had long thick hair. That nit combing was not something any of us enjoyed. I started taking mine to the Dr. to get RX'd lotion for this, it seemed to work better. I don't get it, but my daughters always got it in the winter. I would have expected the summer months. Another interesting fact............. my difficult child NEVER got lice! If your kids go to gymnastics or any other activity where there is contact with other humans or equipment, you might mention it there so that they can fumigate too! Good luck.
  3. Jungleland

    Jungleland Welcome to my jungle!

    I got 3 foster kids late one night from CPS and the ALL had bad cases of lice. We were up till midnight washing hair, picking out nits. I spent the next week, 3 or 4 times a day, brushing their hair with a nit comb (metal kind, not the cheapy plastic kind) brushing their hair, little tiny areas at a time, picking out the nits and eggs and few stragling live ones. Washed their bedding daily in hot water, bagged up all their stuffed animals for 2 weeks, then only gave them a few, after I washed them.

    The trick is the follow up, keeping brushing with that nit comb several times every day and making sure to squish anything that comes onto the comb. I used an old toothbrush to clean the comb after every few strokes. VERY time consuming, but we never had another break out.

    I am sorry you are having to do this!!!

  4. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Yuk! They are such a pain to get rid of! I remember combing out Miss KT's very long, very thick, naturally golden highlighted hair and almost crying with frustration. Fortunately, I didn't get them...guess they can't survive when hair color is applied. Make sure you spray down the car seats and carpet in the car, the soft chairs and couches, anything their heads may have touched, and vacuum the mattresses before you spray them down too. Then throw out the vacuum bag. And check the animals...if I remember anything else I did, I'll check in later.

    I learned all these things the second (and last) time we went through this. Miss KT had them in the early summer, too. Best of luck.
  5. Oh YUK! I am so sorry you are having to deal with this. I went through numerous times when my daughter was in elementary school. For awhile there, it seemed like she was repeatedly getting it. We even went to the school board over it requesting that they do something. We had a lot of immigrants in our area. I was actually told by the school nurse they had problems getting it across to people what they had to do to get rid of them. These kids would come to school and then they would have the kids sit on the carpet area in the classroom. The chemicals to take care of it actually affected my daughters hair at the time, it took awhile to heal. At one point, we all had it. This went on for about 2 years while my daughter was in like 1st and 2nd grade.

    I remember bagging everything, even putting my daughters barbies in the freezer. All of the laundry.

  6. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    easy child 2 had lice last year thru the summer, when she's here half-time. I actually went to the vet and got a house spray made for treating dogs' areas (also safe for humans) and they never spread at our house. easy child's mom's entire family ended up with them and they even had to remove furniture, etc, to get it stopped, so I don't know if they came from mom's or we just got lucky with the prevention, but the vet highly recommended it and we did it.
  7. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    We had a horrible case of this when difficult child was 4. I spent hundreds of dollars, literally, on products at the store and they weren't working. I even had a prescription treatment from the pediatrician. Did nothing. I found an article written by a school nurse in a neighborhood paper delivered to my mom's house. I tell you was a lifesaver. I had been shampooing heads, going through the hair with a lice comb, washing all the bedding on hot, bagged up all stuffed animals, etc, keeping difficult child's hair in braids, vacuuming the house, baseboards, furniture, mattresses and even the car every. single. day. for 6 weeks. I was ready to shave heads, burn down the house and start over.

    What worked was Queen Helene's Cholesterol Conditioning Treatment that you get at Sally's Beauty Supply. It has a derivative of coconut oil in it which is toxic to lice. You coat the hair and cover with a shower cap for 3 hours. Rinse thoroughly. It's a heavy conditioner so you will probably want to use a clarifying shampoo after. Then go through the hair like you normally do. It doesn't kill the nits so you'll have to repeat in 7 days. It was the thing that finally worked. Plus, use shampoo with sodium lauryl sulfate in the ingredients as that is a derivative of coconut oil and will deter lice. We've never had an issue again and it was years before I would buy a new brand of shampoo without reading the ingredients.

    Plus I just feel better using something that's not a pesticide. And it worked much better. We've had the "super lice" around here and the traditional products aren't working. Someone I know used a mixture of vasoline and mayonnaise because that's what her pediatrician told her to do when everything else failed. Not only did it not work, it took days to get all of the vasoline washed out of her child's hair.

    We kept everything bagged for 4 weeks. Washed bedding on hot water and dried in a hot dryer. Bought new combs, brushes and hair ties. Vacuumed daily, including furniture, mattresses and under furniture and around baseboards.
  8. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    And remember that it has nothing to do with hygiene. Lice are opportunistic. difficult child slept with me then and I never had a single one and I think it's because the shampoo I was using had the sodium lauryl sulfate in it. I treated myself, though, every time I treated the kids just to be on the safe side.

    And when I sat with the nit combs with the kids, I kept a small dish of rubbing alcohol next to me and anytime I pulled anything off, I put it in the alcohol.
  9. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh yuck! We dealt with it twice when difficult child was a baby (within weeks of one another). The first time a niece who didn't know she had them visited. easy child got one (they don't like her hair), difficult child none (he was still bald), husband got 1 (guess they didn't like his hair either). My other niece and I were covered in them. I had long hair. None of the shampoos worked. Wish I had known about the product Heather suggested because finally my mother in law suggested using Black Flag and wrapping my hair in a towel after I sprayed it. It worked and then... another niece had it and gave it right back to my other niece and I. I sat down and cried! This time we used the Black Flag right away. husband had to pick through my hair and my niece's hair every night for weeks.

    Later we both went and got our hair cut short! I now have long hair again and never want to go through that again!

    Hugs to you.
  10. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    L had them once. If I ever got them I would be SOL because there is no way husband would be responsible enough to get them out of my hair!
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    OK folks, expert in the house. The following is long, but only because it is detailed. It WILL help, it SHOULD make your life much easier.

    I studied entomology at uni, as well as parasitology. All part of a Zoology degree.

    Then my kids got nits. easy child was the worst, because despite all my study, I didn't actually recognise the beasties in her hair at first (I only saw the eggs). easy child went to an inner city school with a lot of "disadvantaged" kids as well as children of uni staff. Crowded, lots of dress-ups (hats & costumes) in the classroom plus at after-school care, and lice LOVE dress-ups!

    Here is the gist of both my studies, and my experience.

    First - lice prefer clean hair so they can get at the scalp. They are blood-suckers. As they fed they also can trigger a mild inflammatory/immune response in their host (hence the itch). Sometimes the itch is where they are feeding, but I would find increasingly, especially with repeat infestations, the itch and a small rash at the nape of the neck. It goes when the lice go.

    Lice are species-specific. They die if they feed on another host. So you can't catch them from any other animal. In fact, lice are so specific that of the three different types of HUMAn lice, they each prefer their own place on the body. Pediculosis humanis capitis is the head louse; Pediculosis humanis corporis goes for body hair; Phthiris pubis is the crab louse. Note the different genus name for crabs - they are a different shape, flatter and rounder. They have longer, more obvious claws. But I did hear of a case of a society woman who had Phthiris pubis eggs - in her eyebrows! (I knew the microbiologist who identified them and had to write the report).

    Lice and nits MUST have body heat to stay alive. Eggs further along the hair shaft than a couple of cm are not going to be viable. Similarly, lice or eggs in clothing or bedding which is away from the human body for a few hours - not viable. All that stuff you have bagged up - leave it on a cold laundry floor for a few days then unbag it. Nothing lice-ish will be left alive. Or you can cold wash it.

    Hair brushes, scrunchies, hats - put them in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer overnight - or for about three hours, anyway. Or don't worry about the plastic bag - mainly for straw hats, so condensation isn't a problem for the hat when you get it back out of the freezer. Remove dress-up clothing from classroom and play areas. If necessary, ban your child from dressing up in shared clothes for a while, until the plague is past.

    Treatment - ignore instructions that tell you to fuss about bedding, towels, clothes etc. All this does is distract you from the main objective - the head. The more you are distracted, the more likely that you will not get rid of the entire infestation and it will be back in a fortnight. Washing brushes etc in the shampoo - it all helps them sell more shampoo. And if you have a freezer, it's not necessary. But you can't remove a kid's head and put it in the freezer, hence you need to treat the kid's head.

    So on to the treatment.
    Get a nit shampoo, a good conditioner, a wide tooth comb and a fine-tooth comb. A good one is the metal one with round cross-section teeth - there are metal ones with angular cross-section on the teeth and they rip hair. Not nice.

    1) Follow the instructions, at least as far as the head goes. If you're supposed to put it onto a dry head, do so. If you're supposed to wet the head first, do so. Work up a lather. [We had one where a relative who was working for the company advised we leave it on for twice as long, because the formulation was too weak].

    2) When you've washed out the shampoo after the time limit, condition the hair. It doesn't matter what conditioner (unless it's part of the treatment kit). Anything will do. DO NOT RINSE OUT THE CONDITIONER.

    3) Now for the tedious bit. First, put a shower cap on your own head. Make sure you're wearing old clothes, do not do this in your Sunday best. Settle yourselves somewhere pleasant, with natural sunlight able to shine on the kid's head. The brightest incandescent lamp doesn't show nits as clearly as sunlight, even on a dull overcast day. Do this in the bathtub if you like, or in front of the TV. Make sure something enjoyable for the kid is showing on TV.

    4) Begin the combing process. Have your combs handy, as well as a bowl of clean water. Towels are good too.
    To comb - first, use the wide-toothed comb to get all the hair lying the same way. Get all the tangles out. If you normally use a different product for this (we LOVE Fructis Sleek n' Shine serum) then do so.
    Once all the hair is smooth, begin with the fine toothed comb. Don't go nit-chasing, just comb through. On this round, you're after lice. As the comb glugs up with froth from the conditioner and any shampoo residue, rinse it in the bowl. Any lice should rinse off into the bowl as well but will be trapped in the water.
    All lice should at least be knocked down by the pesticide in the shampoo. Don't assume they are dead. Pesticides work on a knock-down factor, not a kill factor. It's the ones that get up again after you've left the room that breed pesticide resistance into the population. But you can use the knock-down factor here, to get them out of the hair more easily. The conditioner works to not only smooth the hair, but also traps the lice. It also breaks the surface tension in the water bowl which helps keep them trapped.

    5) You've combed all the hair through, over and over, no more lice are turning up on the comb - so now you change direction. Use the wide tooth comb again and comb the hair in the opposite direction. Then when it's all de-tangled and smooth again, begin again with the fine-toothed comb. Keep combing until you have covered every portion of scalp and you are sure there are no more lice to be found.

    6) Repeat step 5) until every direction has been covered, with the entire scalp being combed over, in each direction.

    Once this is done, you can send the child to rinse out any remaining conditioner but generally there is no need - the combing process plus the comb rinsing has usually done the job. Now it's time for a break, and to think about what you have just achieved. But before you do this -

    Change the child's clothes - or the shirt, at least. Chances are it's wet. Also change your own shirt and remove your shower cap. Put the shirts and the towels you used into the laundry, to be cold-washed as usual when you next get around to it. The child can now go out and play, preferably not with any kid possibly infested (or you'll have to do it all again).

    Thinking time - You have just eliminated all lice that have hatched. Do not assume you have killed all the eggs (nits) - remember what I said about knockdown effect. Your next task is to go after the eggs. Remember, they need body heat. So if it's a really hot summer day, the room temperature MAY be warm enough for eggs to survive, but once they hatch they MUST have a blood meal from the part of the human body they prefer. So if it's hot summer, change the pillowcases. You can avoid this by just putting the pillows in the freezer for a couple of hours, then they can go back on the bed. But if the day temperature spends six hours or more below body heat and the bed is unoccupied in that time, don't worry. This is more of an issue in younger kids who need naps.

    7) Don't wait too long, a day at most. Now to go after the nits - this is easiest in dry hair. Again, sit in sunlight and put on a DVD or something for the kid to watch. Having hair clips handy to hold hair back so you can work through different sections is good. And with nits, they don't move. Once you've done a section of hair, it should stay done. But do try and completely work on removing the nits at least within 48 hours.

    8) To remove nits - the glue cannot be dissolved. We were told at uni, "If you ever find a formulation that dissolves this glue, or a formulation that replicates it, you'll make a fortune." To date I don't think anyone has succeeded. So to remove them - use your fingernails to slide the nit along the hair shaft and off the end. If you lose it along the way don't fret - if it's moved far enough along the hair shaft it will die anyway.

    9) Are these nits alive? A live nit looks pearly, a dead one looks scaly and flat. You can check by trying to crack it between your fingernails. A dead one won't crack, unless it's only freshly dead. Ones which are old and have hatched out look like dead ones. If your child has had previous infestations, you will probably find hatched eggs.

    10) Once all nits have been removed, assume you haven't got them all. This next thing is important - REPEAT THE SHAMPOO AND COMB-THROUGH PROCESS SIX DAYS LATER. The reason you do this - you may not have removed all the eggs. Some of the eggs you may have left could be alive. They will hatch out. The hatchlings will grow up over a week and at about 8 days old, will begin to mate and lay more eggs. You MUST get them all before this happens. If you do the comb-through, check the size of any lice you find. They should all be tiny. Any big ones means either a fresh infestation, or you missed a live one at the first treatment (unlikely, if you did it right).

    11) If you find more at the second treatment, repeat the process in another six days.

    Keep repeating until you have a clear round. If you keep finding more, then you need to take broader action - where is the child getting them from? I can assure you it will be a fresh infestation from another person, not from bedding or toys, or pets.

    I have mentioned a few things already - remove dress-up play clothes, especially hats. Treat them (freezer, isolation in cold laundry for a few days) but keep them removed unless you are certain the kids playing are not infested. Make it clear to your child that hats must not be shared. If another child puts on your child's hat, your child should not put it on again afterwards. Of it he does (kids get bullied, or don't want to shame a friend, or forget) then check the hat and the kid's head when they get home again.

    Put hats, combs, brushes, scrunchies in the freezer for a few hours or overnight.

    Keep the child's hair tied back neatly. Long hair should be braided, boys included. At least a pigtail, preferably raided or at least tied again further down.

    Now check out friends. Who has been playing with your child recently? Is their hair long and flowing? Do they have busy parents who probably feel that lice and nits don't happen to THEM? You COULD offer to do the friend's hair as well, because in the long run it could save you more sessions on your own child.

    Another really good preventive especially during an epidemic, requires school cooperation - organize "nit night". This means that all kids get treated on the same night of the week. And this means treatment, not just an inspection under a bedlamp.

    difficult child 3's therapist organised something great - she called it "NitBusters" and got the kids involved. They were Occupational Therapist (OT) given pesticide shampoo, but instead given conditioner and told how to do their own hair. Parents were asked to be involved, but for kids whose parents couldn't/wouldn't be part of it, the kids were shown how to do it themselves. They all had to do it on the same night and were given stickers, charts, drawings etc to make it fun. There were also optional inspections by a local doctor (and me, and the therapist) to see how successful the kids were. The classes with "NitBusters" on board were nit-free very quickly and tended to stay nit-free. even siblings got the benefit of these kids knowing what to look for and so the benefits flowed on.

    What if you don't like pesticides? I know some people refuse to put anything onto a kid's head that has not been cleared for use on crops. Hey, I can understand that.

    Well, you can use the same process, but using ordinary shampoo and conditioner. Just be aware that any lice you comb out will be very lively (the water bowl for comb-rinsing will be vital here - but add a drop of detergent to it) and also, that lice will move around from one part of the head to another, as you comb, so you will need to do more combing, over and over. Maybe double the amount, to be sure you've caught them all. It also means the treatment series (the repetition evert six days) may take a week or two longer. But you will win.

    Alternative treatments - good old Aussie ti-tree oil (aka melaleuca oil) gets used a lot to treat nits. Much as I love the stuff as an antiseptic and burn treatment, it will not kill nits or lice. I know from experience - difficult child 3 had been hit on the head with a stick months earlier (darling little bullies at school) and being Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), had worried at the wound until it was a large hole the size of our 20c piece (I think the US quarter is almost as big). We were on holidays, had been for two weeks, we'd been putting NEAT ti-tree oil on the wound for six weeks to try to get it to heal. While on holidays, we found lice and nits on his head. They seemed very happy despite the daily applications of ti-tree oil. And the commercial ti-tree products have it dilute, not concentrated like we'd been using. If the concentrate won't get 'em, the diluted stuff certainly won't.

    [An aside - we were about to leave to go to a Farmers Market which I didn't want to miss - I did steps 4, 5 and 6 in 40 minutes, while he watched cartoons on the cable TV in our motel room. We got to the Farmers Market and had a great day, I used spare minutes during the day to look for eggs, knowing I had already got the lice].

    Same goes for other oils and "natural treatments" - remember, if it's gentle enough to use on your child, it's probably safe for lice, too. The stronger a chemical is, the nastier it is for ALL organisms, not just invertebrates. Pyrethrins are an exception here, but they are highly toxic to fish and (I think) birds, as well as insects. Not so much a problem for arachnids. Most of the most effective nit chemicals are organophosphates - nasty stuff. They may not even be used in the US, but Down Under we use every other country's rejects long after they're banned elsewhere.

    We tend to think in terms of insecticides, but lice are not insects, they're arachnids. The adults have 8 legs, not 6. The nymphs have 6 legs. And arachnids have an extra breathing system as well as the spiracle system insects have. Arachnids often have a book lung system as well. This is why insect spray is not as effective on scorpions or spiders - it just makes them annoyed.

    Companies sell insecticide sprays to us and market them on their knock-down ability. Think about it - we go into the room, sprat a fly and watch with satisfaction as it rapidly spirals to the floor. Great, we think. I'll buy that spray again. This is knock-down. How often have you gone back later and the dead fly is not there? Or you watch it stagger back to life? It does happen. More effective insecticides with a poorer knockdown - you spray, the flies buzz hysterically for a while, then a while longer, and you think, Hm not a good one. In fact, it may have a higher kill rate. You really only know for sure when you know exactly how many flies are in the room when you spray, and you go in later and count corpses. How many of us do that? Hence - fast knock-down sells, much better than actual kill rate.

    The insecticides that kill the most, are also the most dangerous to use. The companies have to convince the authorities (and consumers) that they are safe to use. Too often, there is a compromise between human safety, and successful kill rate.

    Anyway, I know this is long but really it is not complicated. My aim is to remove complications form your Nit Busting procedures.

    If your child keeps turning up positive for nits, you're either missing a stage in this process, or they are getting repeat infestations. When this happened to us with easy child 2/difficult child 2, we were able to isolate the source quickly - it was her best friend, and best friend's little sister. They both wore their hair loose, both liked to cuddle, and their mother was convinced they were too "upper class" to ever get nits. (Idiot). It was only the ghetto kids, she said, who carried nits & lice. Not her girls - they had a bath most nights, they were clean.

    I found that by treating easy child 2/difficult child 2 (plus easy child & difficult child 1 who had caught nits from their sister, and myself because I caught them too) and then ensuring that every day her hair was tied up in a tight bun as if for a ballet exam, she could still play with her untreated "lousy" friends (who LOVED the dress-ups!) and still not get any more infestations. No guarantee, but it made a huge difference and greatly reduced my workload.

    Once you understand how it all works, it make your job as a parent so much easier!

    Feel free to share the info around.

  12. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Keep in mind also that kids can pick up lice from things like movie theater seats. One cheap matinee house in Chicago became known as the "Howard St. Itchhouse" for good reason.

    I've managed to catch the dratted things from one of my neices or nephews. Luckily, I wear my hair so short that a good combing out and the cold treatment took care of things without having to go further (my standard haircut involves slapping a 10 blade on my Andis grooming clippers, and a #4 comb on top of that, LoL).

    Marg is right about lice being extremely species specific. Unlike fleas which will bite humans if their preferred blood meal isn't available; Lice have no choice in the matter.

    It is impossible to catch/give lice from/to an animal.
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You can treat yourself using my procedure - just do it blind, rinsing the comb in the bowl of water and checking the bowl (and the comb) to see if you're still getting any beasties. Then change direction with the wide tooth comb and begin again, same as for doing it for someone else.

    At least it will help you get any animals that hatch out. Repeating the treatment as I suggested, will help you keep eliminating any more hatchlings before they're old enough to lay more eggs.

    But to remove the eggs from your own scalp - you need other eyes for that. But as long as you have combed thoroughly and repeated it until you get no more beasts, you will have eradicated your own infestation. Any remaining nits would be dead or already hatched. Eventually they will grow out, if someone hasn't been able to remove them for you.

    I've only ever had to do my own hair twice, and each time I was clear on the second treatment.

    I remember being told about a description of Thomas a' Becket, who was murdered in the cathedral. Beneath his priestly vestments he had secretly been wearing a hair shirt, and it was jumping. As his body cooled, the lice were so numerous that his clothing moved as the lice desperately tried to find another host before the lack of body heat killed them. Onlookers believed that the movement of the clothes after his death was an indication of the man's saintliness. Or so my uni lecturer told us.

    I am also reminded of a certain classic poem "The Flea" by John Donne, in which a lover tries to seduce a woman using a flea as sexual imagery, that the flea which had recently bitten him had just bitten her, and in the flea their blood was mingled as one, and shouldn't they follow this good example on a larger scale?

    I think people's attitudes to such creatures has changed over the years...