Lice help


Hi all.

I have a little issue I need some mom advice with.

My easy child 2 (step easy child) has lice. Her mom is adamant she's getting them at our house, and its entirely possible, but I'm not sure what else to do.

Here's the scoop.

Her mom got remarried this year, so easy child 2 has been here on a haphazzard schedule this year. She went to summer school so was with us all but about 4 days of June while her mom was on her honeymoon. On June 23, she got her hair straightened and about 8 inches cut off of it (I will also add that she has really curly, fine hair, so unless you took the time to comb it out, the 8 inches she cut off is not noticable - it always curled up at the nape of her neck to about the same length its cut to now that its straight(er). Anyway, point is, she told her mom we did this, and mom doesn't beleive her). On June 28, she went to husband's mom's house while husband and I went on a little trip. She stayed there til June 30, when she went back to her mom's.

At mom's she stays at her mom's mom's (grandma) house all but 4 nights a month - when her step-dad's kids are there on the weekends that she is there. During the week, mom sends her to grandma's to sleep every night, which is also where she stays thru the day. She doesn't have friends over and they rarely go anywhere, they're very much home-bodies.

On July 12, I picked her up at 2pm, took her and wee difficult child to the pool, then we went to my mom's for the night. We came home the next day long enough to pack the cooler (about 2 hours) and we went to southern Missouri camping with friends until July 22. When we got back from camping, she went back to her mom's.

One of the friends we camp with is her mom's ex-husband and easy child 2's older half-sister. easy child 2 likes having her hair french braided, so she had her sister do it almost every day. Sister never noticed anything, either.

Three days after I took her back to her mom's, her mom calls and told me she had lice, so I had better spray my house. I explained she hadn't been in my house since the end of June, and she said, of course, she'd noticed her scratching her head since she came back the first time but never bothered to check, but she's sure the bugs were why she was scratching then.

So, I washed her bedding in our house and in our camper. I sprayed my house and the camper, etc.

She came back to our house on July 30. difficult child 1 had left for boot, so I had cleaned out his room and we moved all of easy child 2's stuff into that room (she and difficult child 2 shared prior to this). In addition, she got new sheets and bedding and a sparkling clean room. She was here til last Sunday, Aug 5, when she went back to her mom's. And last night, three days later again, mom calls, she has bugs, and tells me I've GOT to get my hosue cleaned up and she's not allowed to touch our animals anymore (when her mom dropped her off the previous week, the first thing easy child 2 did was pick up a kitten).

I just took my dog to the vet for her skin allergies, so I called him and asked if my dog could possibly have lice. He laughed and said it didn't have lice, nor could it, as lice are species specific. Human lice don't live on dogs or cats. There went that idea. But, he said the spray I use for my house will kill human lice, so I went back and bought enough to bomb my house again (and this stuff isn't the Raid brand you buy at walmart, its pricey - I spent $80 on the first round).

To top it off, we have 3 kids that live here 24x7 and no one else has lice - I can't imagine if they're so bad easy child 2 gets them that no one else would have them.

So - what more can I do A) to make sure we don't have lice, and B) to prove to her mom she's not getting them here (if in fact we don't)?


New Member
I'd just tell her what your vet said and that the other kids don't have it. I'd also save receipts of the expensive bug bombs and let her know you expect her to bomb her house as well. If easy child 2 continues to get them, she will eventually bring them over to your house on a visit.


I know. If we don't have them already, we will! That's the other thing. I'm going to buy RID and just keep some on hand. Probably hit her with it when she comes in and maybe again when she leaves.
Could I take her bedding in anywhere to have it checked out?


New Member
You can see the nits with a black light. Black lights are cheap, you can usually buy a bar at Walmart for under $20 near the regular light bulbs. The adults can only live for about 2 days without food. (I just researched it, said 55 hours) So as long as you can get rid of the nits (eggs) you should be good. If you keep the black light, take easy child 2 into the bathroom when she arrives and turn off the lights and on the blacklight. It says lice lay up to 10 eggs a day, so she will be covered in nits if she has lice. If she has it, use the RID. It also said that lice prefer females to males, kids to adults, long hair to short and so on. So she fits the bill perfectly.


New Member
One other place to clean -- the headrest in the car. Really easy to do back and forth transfers that way. Also, all pillows and stuffed animals need to be taken care of. Stuffed animals can be put in an airtight plastic and stored for a month.

If no one else in your home has lice, the odds of her getting them from your home are slim, but you are right that she'll bring them to you. She could have gotten them from your friends or some other kids while with you. That being the case, unless grandma and ma really took the appropriate steps, they now have the lice and need to really clean their stuff! (Turn about is fair play, isn't it?)


They are also seeing a super lice, if you will, and RID and the other products you normally buy aren't effective like they used to be. We had this happen when difficult child was 4. easy child brought them home from his dad's (his step-sister picked them up from camp) and by the time we knew about it, difficult child had them, too. For 6 weeks, I vacuumed every inch of my house, including baseboards and furniture daily. I sprayed my house. I washed bedding everyday. Sealed up stuffed animals, etc. Went through the kids hair every single day. Spent a ton of money on products at the pharmacy and even a prescription treatment from the pediatrician. We could not get rid of them. I finally found an article in an obscure neighborhood paper written by a school nurse.

If you have a Sally's nearby, pick up Queen Helene's Cholesterol Conditioning Treatment. It comes in a tub and looks and smells like Triple Lanolin lotion. It contains a derivative of coconut oil which is toxic to lice. Coat the hair and leave on for 3 hours with a shower cap. Then rinse. It is a heavy conditioner, so you'll probably want to wash afterward with a clarifying shampoo. It also doesn't kill the nits, so you'll have to go through the hair carefully and repeat the process in a week. Also, shampoos that contain Sodium Laurel (sp) Sulfate (not Sodium Laureth - some shampoos have both, but make sure it has Sodium Laurel Sulfate) repel lice because that ingredient is a derivative of coconut oil. My shampoo had that in it and even though the kids were infested I never had one.

If none of you have any lice, then she did not pick it up there. She could have gotten them anywhere - school, movie theater, etc.


Well-Known Member
I would use the special comb when she gets there and again when she is leaving. That way you will know when she got them.
Several years ago our small, closeknit community had a horrific lice merry-go-round going. We all got together with education from the experts. This is what cured our very annoying problem:

We found that the most common vectors for sharing of lice is sharing of headgear by kids: combs, brushes, hair decorations , ponytailer holders, hats, hoodies, etc. KIDS SIMPLY CANNOT SHARE, and it is better if they never touch each others' hair.

You must kill the adults lice twice and you need to nit pick for at least four serious sessions. There are some new fancy nit combs on the market. Buy a sturdy one - preferably metal, because you will need to boil it after use. You also need to boil all combs and brushes. Throw your old ones out.

Heat will kill nits. Throw pillows, sheets, bed spreads, stuffed animals in the dryer -toss on HIGH heat for at least 20 minutes. You must do the same with ALL clothing. The plastic bag trick works (in the SEALED bag for 2 weeks) - but you just can't do that with everything.

You must destroy all nits at all locations where your child goes.You mentioned her sister was frenchbraiding her hair... This is the most likely vector. Lice here in the States love finely textured hair. Incidentially finely textured hair is the hardest hair to nit pick because it is so tiny and slick. Nit picking is ..... tedious. Done correctly, it takes hours on a full head of hair. There are professionals in our area who will do it for a hefty price. It's easier just to buzz cut a boy's hair and cut a girl's hair very short. You won't lose the lice unless you get ALL of the nits. The lice poisons are very nasty, unhealthy and heat works the best - use it where you can. by the way, lice are no reflection on housekeeping - cleanliness or dirtiness. They are merely a reflection of the sharing of nits. The cleanest house in the world can have nits because they are just too small to see or "clean up". Animals do not have human lice. Human lice here in the States are not attracted to "ethnic" hair. They only like finely textured hair. In other parts of the world, say like Africa, they only like coarser textured hair. They truly adapt to their environment.

I only know this because we live a couple of miles from the CDC, many of the parents in our community work there, and we had experts come speak at our school system. We truly had a severe problem, and almost every family was touched by it. It literally took several years to knock it out. Good luck!


Active Member
I've well and truly been there done that with nits, lice and the whole darn thing. Plus I studied them at uni when we did parasitology. I KNOW lice and nits.

So, added in all my experience of kids who got repeat infestations from their inner-city school - here's some facts to smash those labour-wasting myths.

1) These things ARE species specific, as the vet said. They die if the try to feed off a different species.

2) They NEED blood heat. Even the animals can't survive more than a few hours at room temperature. In a hot summer they will live longer away from the scalp, but they really do need body heat, not merely a degree or two less.

3) Lice, human lice, come in three different forms. Pubic lice are quite different an a different genus (Pthiris pubis) and also look quite different. They CAN be found on other parts of the body, but generally will migrate to their preferred location. The other one, Pediculosis humanis, comes in two sub-species - capitis, which heads for the head, and corporis, which prefers the body hair of other areas. If you get any of these lice on you, they will, as quickly as they can, migrate to their preferred area and begin feeding.

4) Because they cannot survive away from the body for more than a few hours, you really don't have to do much to stop an infestation cycle. Use this knowledge.
Put all combs, hats, hair brushes, scrunchies etc in a plastic bag in the freezer overnight. No viable lice or nits will be left alive by morning.
Linen and clothing - toss it into the laundry tub. When you eventually get around to washing, do it in COLD water and hang it on the clothes line. A tumble dryer is OK too - the hot setting will probably be too hot, but prolonged cold (below 70 F is best). Just remember, the beasts & eggs die if they're more than a few inches away from a human scalp for more than a few hours. Unless the car is constantly in use, or another child uses the same headrest within half an hour, I doubt the car headrest is the source.

5) To treat an infestation or to check for one - do it in sunlight if you can. I've not done it under UV, it probably would work. Put your own hair in a shower cap (to protect yourself). A long loose strand of hair can be a highway for these critturs, so keep hair tied back.
Treatment - use a pesticide shampoo if you know there is an active infestation. Otherwise, wash hair as normal and then put conditioner in the child's hair.
And here is where you go searching - have a fine tooth comb, a wide tooth comb, a bowl of water and some towels handy. First get the tangles out with the wide tooth comb. Then use the fine tooth comb to go through the hair AND the scalp, looking for beasties. Rinse the combs in the bowl of water to trap them. The aim of this exercise is to catch lice, dead or alive and remove them. Eggs can be got here too, but step one - leave the eggs and get the lice.
Now when you've got all the creatures you think you can, change direction of combing and start again.
And again. When you are well-practiced, this should take at least half an hour. If you're a novice, allow an hour to do all three lots of combing.
THEN go after the eggs. Again, use sunlight.

And remember, you WON'T get all the eggs. And even with strong pesticide shampoo, you won't have killed all the lice or the eggs, only some of them. There is a 'knock'down' effect where they seem to lie down and die, but they're not all dead. If you don't remove them while they're 'out of it', they will come round and evade the comb. The conditioner wil l still trap them, though, and rinsing the combs in the bowl will trap them in the water so you can control where they end up (down the drain or on the garden is fine).

And the most important step of all - DO IT AGAIN IN SIX DAYS.

You do this in case there were any unkilled eggs you missed which have since hatched. Any hatchlings will still be too sexually immature to lay eggs, so re-doing the treatment now will catch them while immature. If you get any, then repeat the process AGAIN, in another six days.

And something else very important - there are many placers a child can get nits (and lice). But once they have them, then EVERYONE in that child's range is at risk. Unless everyone is treated at the same time, the chance of reinfestation is high. We don't catch lice & nits from the environment, we catch them from other people. Close physical contact. I'd be checking granny.

A strong suggestion - check yourselves out thoroughly, everyone in the family. You too. Then, every time she comes over, check her out too, to make sure she's clear before you let her loose. If you can report that she was already infested when she arrived, first you're keeping yourselves safe, and second, you're making it easier to track down reinfestation sources.
This isn't to say that granny, for example, was the primary source - trying to find the primary source now is pointless. But she could have given it to granny, and granny could now be reinfecting her.

easy child had some really bad infestations. I would get her completely cleared (the first time it took us a long time to recognise it and by then, I had it too) and then easy child would come home from school with another lot. She brought a young friend home, friend was living with her elderly aunt who had never seen nits. Friend's hair was alive with activity and was a regular source of easy child's re-infestation. All I could do was keep treating easy child and keep trying to tell aunty that her niece's hair needed treatment. Finally, friend got her hair treated properly by a professional hairdresser relative. easy child's problems then cleared up.

easy child 2/difficult child 2 had similar problems years later, so from past experience I checked through her friend's list. I soon worked out which friend was the source - and wouldn't you know it, it was someone whose mother insisted that nits could not affect her daughters, since they were too educated and wealthy to be atrisk of nits. Talk about nitwit!

So the other preventive came into play - keep the kids' hair tied up, back and out of the way. Both my girls did ballet, so I simply did their hair as I would for ballet class - hair tied back into one bunch, the bunch braided, the braid turned into a bun and then a hair net over it all. No self-respecting louse could get through the barrier of hair gel I then applied. OK, you needn't go that far, but if you braid the hair, then at least loop up the braids. Or pin the pony tails into small buns so there aren't loose strands.

It does get better as they get older - they're less inclined to hug, cuddle and generally make close physical contact, with their friends at school.

You also need to ban dress-ups, ask the school to do the same during an infestation and ask your kids to stay away from dress-ups that are shared around. Especially hats.

But washing the bedding, the brushes, the clothing in the pesticide shampoo - not necessary. Nor is boiling necessary. Don't focus so much on the bedding, focus on the head. Using the pesticide everywhere is bad for the environment and only benefits the company which makes it (and tells you to use it so liberally - it means you have to buy more). And be prepared to have to buy fresh supplies every six months or so, the stuff doesn't keep. I suspect this is where rumours of "super-lice" come from - older bottles of pesticide shampoo which no longer work, or rapid reinfestations because not all cases were treated.

Our local school had a really good program which involved getting the kids' cooperation as "lice busters". They were supplied with a fine tooth comb, some conditioner and some simple instructions, and on one set night, declared to be "nit night", EVERYONE got treated at home, whether they had symptoms or not. It drastically cut back on reinfestation (assuming an 80% strike rate, that leaves a maximum of 20% of kids who could possibly have nits, instead of a potential 100%.

And which pesticide to use? My personal preference - I don't like to use anything on my kids head that has been banned from use in agriculture in the same country. Ti-tree oil is supposed to be a wonderful natural alternative - it's good stuff, but not THAT good. We were dabbing it on a hole in difficult child 3's head while we were on holidays, trying to heal a scab which he kept picking. And one day while examining said hole, I saw lice. They must have been there for several weeks at least, despite the twice daily applications of neat ti-tree oil. It clearly didn't bother them enough to stop the infestation.

I hope this can help.




Ditto, BigBadKitty.

I start scratching every time I have this conversation, then I run to the mirror and start looking. I think I've pulled 10 sections of hair off the back of my neck to look at it and make sure there's no nits!


Active Member
Shari, for heaven's sake don't pull hairs out to check for nits - you have very, very low odds of finding them that way, even in a heavy infestation.

What would you call a heavy infestation? A hundred eggs? How many hairs do you have on your head? A hundred thousand, maybe twice that. So if you pluck a hair at random to check and you DO have nits, you still have a 1 in 1000 chance (or worse) of actually finding one that way.

Seriously, the method I suggested is the best way to check your own hair - it's how I had to do mine, husband simply hasn't got the eyesight to do it. I washed my own hair in nit treatment then put in conditioner, then sat in the bathtub with the two combs (wide tooth, and fine tooth) and combed my hair through, all the while checking the comb. And yes, the first time I did this I DID have them. I could hardly miss, we had left easy child untreated for months, not recognising the problem. She had given them to me and to difficult child 1. I didn't have many, the first treatment was the only one where I found any lice. I still did it twice more, about a week apart, just to be sure. I've had them once, since (caught them from difficult child 2) but the second time I only had a couple, literally.

There is a new kind of fine tooth comb on the market - instead of being flat and plastic, this one has round metal teeth. It's gentler than other metal combs (I hate the others, they rip hair to shreds and upset the kids). The new metal comb is great at getting nits out, as painlessly as possible. But I still prefer the flat plastic one as being easier to use especially for getting scampering animalcules.

A bit of trivia from one of my uni lecturers in parasitology - Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary how one of his wigs had come from the wigmakers, with nits. He was disgusted and sent it back - a new wig should not have been jumping, clearly some POOR person had been fooling around and wearing his expensive, custom-made wig.
And another - Thomas a'Becket was famously murdered on the altar steps in his cathedral, by some over-enthusiastic knights. It wasn't known until then, but the archbishop had been wearing a hair shirt next to his skin, "to mortify the flesh" and keep him humble. And it was loaded - as his body cooled, it was reported that his clothing was seen to be MOVING, as the body lice scrambled desperately from the cooling body in search of a warmer (ie alive) host. This was reported as a sign of the great man's saintliness.

So next time your kid brings some livestock home, just remember the saintliness of Thomas a'Becket.



Well-Known Member
Regarding the subject of lice, I must first say how grateful I am that I no longer have small children, and no longer have to deal with this problem.

Debbie (now 38), Nechama (now 34) and Bracha (now 32) all had beautiful long tresses, and would not agree to me cutting their hair short when they were all in school. Debbie and Bracha have very thick wavy blonde hair, and Nechama not so thick, but very curly brown hair. And of course all the brothers, older and younger, were also getting lice.

After using different sorts of shampoos with pesticides, I decided I wouldn't put any more of these harmful stuffs on my children's heads. The solution was quite simple, but a lot of work. A metal louse-comb with rounded teeth, expensive but worth every penny, was used every evening on their hair, after putting conditioner on the hair. We did that every evening, evening after evening, and it didn't take that long, maybe a week, for them to be completely clean. The really good louse-comb takes out the nits as well. I did it next to the sink, with running water, so that we just rinsed the ugh down the drain. Here in Israel there is a very good make of children's shampoo and conditioner which contains the herb rosemary. Lice just HATE rosemary and won't jump onto heads that smell of it. The shampoo actually smells quite nice and I used to use it too.

After that, just combing with the special louse-comb two or three times a week, and using conditioner with rosemary, did the trick.

Good luck to whoever needs it with lice.

Love, Esther


Active Member
Esther, that is a very effective, chemical-free way of doing it. You're likely to catch an infestation at such an early stage that few eggs, if any, have been laid. The extremely frequent treatment then gets any hatchlings before they grow up to be egg-laying adults. The conditioner tangles their legs a moderate amount and the running water gets them off the combs before they can extricate themselves from the conditioner.
I guess it's the drought and water restrictions here - I tend to come up with solutions that will work for us. But I remember visiting friends in Greece and watching them wash up in running water - the springs were running anyway, why waste it? The sink was only a few inches deep, not like ours.

Sitting in the bath is an alternative - I used to give the kids body paint soap crayons to keep them amused, then hose out the bathroom afterwards.

But seriously, folks - Esther's suggestion is extremely effective. If the kids won't put up with the metal comb, use the plastic fine tooth comb with the broad-toothed one to at least begin to smooth the hair out before you use the finer one. it won't hurt as much but it's also far less effective and won't get the nits like the metal comb will, so you'll need to sit with the kid in sunlight and laboriously go through the hair, if the school is going to exclude your child for having nits. A lot of schools do - even if the nits have been treated and are dead, the child can still be excluded. Why should the school take a parent's word for it?

So if your child is getting nits on a regular basis, give Esther's method a go first. And you MUST do it as frequently as she said; if you leave it longer than six days, the infestation is even more likely to get out of control and spread to others.
Then use the freezer for combs, brushes, scrunchies, hats. Let any possibly contaminated clothing and bedding chill in the laundry for a few days and there is no need for any more fuss.

Keeping long hair braided is a big help - a friend of mine has never cut her boys' hair (except for the fringe) and their long, blonde hair is a potential nit magnet. But she sends them to school with a single long braid down their back.

Oh, isn't this a fun subject? I'm so glad we've past this problem now - although easy child 2/difficult child 2 is training to work in early child care, she's going to find that the job carries some risks. Time to braid those long tresses, girl!



Well, as I suspected, easy child 2's mom won't let her come back for her last week with us (during the summer, we alternate weeks). School starts next week, anyway, so we're not going to argue (this woman is a difficult child from way back, I think - her own parents are afraid of her wrath (and will not stand up to her on anything)).
But, we're going to use this to our advantage. easy child 2's room was cleaned, bagged, sprayed, washed, etc, and closed up when she went back to mom's last time (Aug 5). She is supposed to start the "school year" visit schedule and come for the night this Wednesday, Aug 15, however, we're going to call and ask her grandma (mom's mom) to keep her that night, as well (under the pretense of we'll be out of town or something). So she will not be here again until Aug 22. That will be 17 days her room will be without a "host", so unless they've found someone else to live on (which so far the rest of us don't have them), that should be long enough for anything that was alive to die, and that was an egg to have hatched and died. Plus we've left the a/c on in her room so its below 70 in there. Going to stop by the doctor and make sure this is sufficient for him to say they're gone, and that should be sufficient for mom.
As for the issue of the "stigma" that goes with lice, for years, I thought it was a "dirty" problem, or, like you said Marge, a poor problem. However, the only people I've ever known to have lice didn't fit either of those categories at all. In fact, one family I know had them are probably the cleanest people I know, too.


(Ps, I'm also going to ask grandma if easy child 2's been treated again. She wasn't treated a 2nd time the first time they found bugs, so I suspect she hasn't been treated again this time, either.)


New Member
UG, we had lice and ug what a mess it was. My oldest child has the thickest head of hair (and it is wavy curley) of anyone I have ever seen, even when I was a cosmetologist.....and her hair went down to her behind. My middle child did not have hair quite so thick, but it was also quite long, also to her behind. (they could sit on it, but yes, I often kept it in braids) and even my lil guy, he also has incredibly thick hair, and it was longish and my own hair was quite long (mid back)
Oldest dtr got them sharieing hair supplies and hoodies etc and doing sleepovers. It was a nitemare in her ed bd class and with her 1-1 aide. The aide jumped up and screamed very loud in class difficult child YOU HAVE BUGS. Quite humiliating and embarrassing in 10th grade, to be sure. Worse, difficult child has an extreme powerful intesne phobia of bugs. Combine that with an intense hatred of anyone invading her personal space, and she would not let school nurse near her, so danged school nurse rather than call ME to come get her and handle lice (yes our school has a no nits policy) - nurse called police to come hold difficult child down to be checked for lice. UG.

It was a nasty battle, but I think it is as Marg said- the shampoo/pesticides we bought likely were outdated. Old.
All that hair was miserable to try to comb thru and everytime we thought we had them, nope. we tried everything you can think, but were not winning the war. It dragged on many month, but partly I think my kids refused to stop shareing hair things and wearing friends clothes.
You name it we tried it. Pesticides, OTC and RX....electric "zapping" comb, mayonnaise,

What finally worked for us was I climbed into bathtub with each child, daily at first then every other day, then once a week, this went on several weeks, months even.and continues even now years later I do this approx once a month------ I would first shampoo their head, then put on large amounts of cheap hair conditioner, and use a regular comb first, and then the nit comb and painstakingly, like was said above, comb every strand several times, do the entire head and scalp- and then comb another direction....literally 2 hours on oldest child each time. I had blisters and my hands and arms were SO sore...doing 3 kids heads plus husband and myself. I left the conditioner on the hair while I combed, and yes, dipped it in water and swiped it with paper towel after every swipe thru hair, trapping them critters. then sealed THAT in a ziplock and dispsoseing of it. It was a nitemare, and it is due to remembering that nitemare that even long after we finally had no more we continue to do periodic comb thrus and checks. My kids used tojoke about their pets, yeesh........I guess they eventually had to joke about it otherwise we all might STILL be crying about it. It was creepy icky feeling, embarrasssing, humbling, and so very very time and energy consuming. Many a nite we would instead of be in tub, sit in a chain each of us with another in front of them, TV on, combing the person in front of them, except I never trusted they did a great job on person n front of them, so I still also double checked.

I have heard lice do not like dirty hair, I have heard dirty hair is harder for them to cling to? I do not know if that is true or not, but I know the conditioner worked to help us get them off the hair (like maybe they could not cling becuz of the slipperyness of the conditioner?) it seemed to me it may have "puffed them up" some, but that could be my imagination.

At that time I had not heard to use conditioner, but happened onto it by accident becuz well, with all that hair, it was SO hard to comb thru it with those fine combs, I HAD to use heavy conditioner to get thru that hair......and found by accident that I got more of them critters per comb swipe with the conditioner than without.

Best of luck to you!


Active Member
You don't have to chill things off for long. I remember being taught that a matter of hours was all that was needed. To be safe, I would wait three days minimum before doing the laundry, leaving the clothes/linen/towels at room temperature in the laundry tub. Overnight in the freezer is all you need for hairbrushes, and they're the worst reinfecters. And by overnight, I mean shove them in at bedtime, then get the brush out in the morning to do hair before school - it will be OK.

The bedroom - you can turn off the A/C now. You're way past the three day mark. No need to bag anything, dead is dead. They are parasites, ectoparasites (ie outside the body), to be sure, but obligate parasites all the same. Obligate parasites have absolutely no choice but to live in close contact with their host. Without a live host, they die fairly quickly. If you're doing a kid's hair and a louse drops to the floor, it can't survive on the dog or cat - trying to feed off the pets will kill the louse. And unless it can hitch a ride on a human AND get up to the head within a few hours, it's dead.

Conditioner is great for slowing the little beggars down.

Sounds like the biggest success was with Esther's method, that of laboriously checking the hair in the bath, on an almost daily basis.

Something I meant to mention, as a super aid to those trying to treat thick or tangly hair - there is a new product (for us) which is a comb-through anti-tangling serum. The instructions say to squirt a single dose onto the hair after washing, while hair is still wet. We found that far too much - plus when I had long hair, I needed the anti-tangle a few days later. So I found if I put a single drop on the hair brush I could distribute it through my hair and it was amazing - badly wind-knotted hair would be untangled within two brush strokes!

So if you need some extra help either checking kids' hair, or combing it through (especially the comb-through of dry hair, looking for and removing the nits) then try and get hold of this stuff. It comes in a clear round bottle (as in round, like a little globe) and I DON'T use the pump on top, it dispenses far too much. It's about $15 a bottle, for us, but used sparingly it can last a year or more. It's called Garnier Fructis sleek & shine smoothing serum, but if you can lay your hands on a similar product, it should do the job. I wish we'd had it when I was a kid and had to spend hours, literally, getting grass seeds and dreadlocks combed from my hair.
I suspect it would also suffocate lice to a certain extent, since this stuff spreads so incredibly thinly, distributes so far through the hair but coats everything. Lice are arachnids, related to spiders, but I think they have the same breathing system as insects (breathing through holes in their bodies) which, if the holes get covered up, will kill them. it's probably how t-tree oil is supposed to work, but this stuff spreads much further than ti-tree.

But don't use it as a primary treatment/insecticide, just look on any kill rate as a bonus. Use it to de-tangle, to make the comb-through easier and quicker.

We live in a world full of organisms too small to see. We shouldn't try to eliminate them all because we need a lot of them. If you live too 'clean' you get sick. It can aggravate allergies, because your immune system has nothing to fight so it fights itself. Give your immune system a job to do and it will be better fit to keep you well when the nasty bugs come round (like the flu that is hitting Australia now - it's lethal, kids are dying).

protect against the nasty stuff, the stuff that causes discomfort, but otherwise let the kids run barefoot and play with the dog. Washing hands is the best protection, rather than washing everything else.

And for lice - prevention and regular monitoring (Esther-style) is the way to keep that problem to a minimum. If you exhaust yourself with house cleaning, you will be too tired to focus your vigilance on the kids' heads, where it needs to be. And you will run out of the nit shampoo if you wash everything in it! Save it for the heads. They can't be shoved into the freezer overnight.



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Oh, and I forgot to mention - lice DO prefer clean heads. That doesn't mean a dirty head is immune, although a kid with bad cradle cap probably is immune. But back when easy child was in school and difficult child 1 was in child care (and we were dealing with our first big dose) there was a news report that nits had been found in the child care centre where Princes William and Harry was attending. Almost exclusively, that centre was used by the gentry of Britain and the reporters were saying, "wealth and position are no barrier - indeed, the clean head is at more risk, since there is nothing in the way of the scalp, for the louse." Nothing was said about WHICH landed gentry had lousy kids, but there was a lot of speculation.