The Dreaded Phone Call – Your Child Has Lice?!?!?!
Most parents with children in school or daycare have been here or will be here it is almost inevitable but catching these pesky critters early and being aware of the treatments, preventative measures can help you be prepared to get rid of them before they take over your home and become an infestation.
First things first I am a mother of two girls aged 10 and 7 and girls are more likely to catch lice than boys – but don’t let that tarnish your thoughts boys can and do get lice too! It is just girls have a better “home” if we must call it that for the lice to live and thrive in where boys generally have shorter hair and are less likely to be a suitable home for lice. I also worked at a private daycare where I was dubbed the Lice Lady lol – mainly due to the fact I had two children, had dealt with lice before and many of the other daycare teachers were young women out of college with no real experience in spotting lice. As much as I cringe and scratch as I write this as well as when I was the “Lice Lady” I would much rather help those be aware and help them to get the issue dealt with properly – so itch away I will.
Now I was not always the “Lice Lady” or experienced in the least when it came to lice. It was not until my oldest daughter got lice for the first time – and let me tell you I had ZERO idea what I was doing or how to deal with it. I cried for a bit mainly out of frustration and then picked up the phone and called my mother. Needless to say she tried her best but with her vision getting worse in age she was no longer the “Lice Lady” and I was left feeling helpless as the “traditional” shampoo method was not working.
This was when I went online – thank god for the internet. I typed LICE in google and hit search and was so happy to have found a search result for a business called The Lice Squad. Totally at wit’s end on how to deal with the issue I decided to call and was blessed to have a very nice woman in my area who came to my home. She checked all three of us (I was so worried I had it but only Abby had the pesky bugs). Once me and Hailee were given the all clear she then turned her attention to Abby. She taught me how to spot both the bugs and the eggs – as well as the difference between an egg vs hair product residue or dandruff. She taught me how to remove them without the use of harsh shampoos with chemicals in them and gave me the all mighty Louse Trap Comb (pictured below). Of course I had to pay for this service but as a first timer on dealing with lice I felt okay with that as I learned so much from the experience and lessons she gave me while she was there.
Now of course you do not need to use this service at all as I will be giving you the 101 on how to treat and prevent those little bugs right here BUT I do suggest you invest in a GOOD Louse Comb – At $24.99 the Lice Squads Louse Trap Comb may be more expensive than others but I will tell you from one mother to another this comb hands down is the best lice comb out there you will not find better. The way it is designed is key and is what sets it apart from others that I experienced as a child as well as the ones that come in those shampoo boxes (horrible).
Here is what their description on their site says about their comb: The most effective lice egg removal tool on the market today. Used by Lice Squad’s professional Nit Pickers. Provides safe, easy and effective head lice removal. Won’t tear or break the hair and can be sanitized for multiple uses. This unbreakable tool is guaranteed to work for you or your money refunded. – and I am telling you that description is 100% true!
You can also buy the Lice Ladies Comb on Amazon which is very similar and works just as well. It often goes on sale so be sure to grab it.
What are Head Lice?
Head lice are small grey or reddish-brown bugs 1mm – 4mm in length depending on their age
Lice live on the human head
They do not live on pets or on other parts of the body
They feed on blood and cannot survive off the head for more than 24 to 48 hours without feeding
They also do not hop, jump or fly ~ Thank God
Lice lay eggs – these are tear-drop shaped and are glued to the hair shaft on an angle they are also only glued to one side of the hair shaft
The viable eggs are typically brownish/yellow to caramel in color
Empty egg cases or dead eggs are called nits – these are clear, opaque, almost see through
Do not rely on a product that claims to kill lice and their nits as it is the eggs that need to be killed or removed
Viable lice eggs are never white in colour
Female lice lay 3 to 5 eggs per day and live for 30 days and they need a male to mate with
Lice eggs take 7 to 10 days to hatch and another 7 to 10 days to be mature enough to mate
What do I Look For?
Look for lice and lice eggs in the common spots they hide – these are around the ears, at the crown of the head and at the nape of the neck. It is best to do this in an area with bright lights. Lice lay their eggs close to the scalp but look along the whole hair shaft as this is not always the case. Do not confuse DEC plugs, hair casts or other hair debris with lice eggs – remember if it is white like paper or snow or moves easily it is not a lice egg.
- To succeed at eliminating a head lice infestation, one must remove all lice eggs and lice from the hair
- The lice eggs are tear-shaped, usually brown in colour, and are attached to only one side of the hair shaft
- Lice egg look-alikes, are white, they surround the hair shaft and are often misdiagnosed as lice eggs
- Nits are empty or dead lice eggs. They are see-through and will stick to the hair shaft on one side
- Most mothers waste both time and energy doing countless washing of bed sheets and clothes. Lice are not living in your environment. They are living on your head. See my 4 easy steps to cleaning your home below
- Pesticide sprays & treatments should be used with caution or in my opinion, not at all
- Don’t rely on products that claim to kill nits – Lice eggs must be removed by hand
- Head lice are not living in your home, on your furniture or in your bedding – they prefer to be on your head
- The good news that is a louse will die within 24 to 48 hours without a blood meal from you
HOW TO REMOVE LICE
- Sit your child in a well-lit area – I suggest making them sit in a sturdy chair with them facing the chair backing so you have full access to their head
- Get a hair clip (I use one from the dollar store with lots of “teeth”) that you can secure the section of hair you are not currently working on at the top of their head
- Place conditioner and a small amount of water into a spray bottle (not too much water but enough to make the conditioner not so thick)
- Start with the bottom section at the nape of the neck spraying the conditioner solution to soak the hair – once soaked take the Louse Trap Comb or the lice comb of your choice and start at the left and work your way right. After each comb through wipe the comb off on a paper towel (you will see any lice or eggs come off onto the paper towel). Remember to not only comb downward but also sideways and upwards to ensure a good comb in each section. Continue on repeating this for each new section (remember to take down a small amount of hair at a time to ensure maximum removal)
- After you have done their whole head rinse their hair out – blow dry and re-check their hair. If you see anymore eggs or lice repeat the removal steps until no more eggs or lice are found.
- I suggest for the next 7-10 days checking their hair twice a day to ensure you have got them all.
- Once your child is lice and egg free for 24-48 hours they can return to school – I suggest making an appointment with your family doctor to have them do a check and give you a letter for the school/daycare
HERE IS HOW TO CLEAN YOUR HOME
- Place all items that can safely be dried on high heat in a dryer for 20 to 30 minutes
- Vacuum items that cannot be dried
- If an item can not be dried or vacuumed set it aside for 24 to 48 hours … and that is it!
Remember, the focus of head lice elimination should be on the manual removal of all lice eggs and nits from the head. Remember lice are not living in the environment, they are living on you. Cleaning should be done initially after your first big nitpick and treatment. It can be repeated every 4th to 5th day after follow-up treatments.
Head Lice Prevention tips
- Educate your children – have a talk about head lice with your kids. Let them know the things that they can do to avoid getting head lice. Children are most susceptible to getting lice and usually bring them home from school or day care.
- Avoid head to head or hair to item contact – keeping the hair up and away from other people’s heads is the best thing that you can do to avoid getting head lice. Sharing hats, combs, towels, and other hair items is not advised. Keep in mind that you may also get head lice from car seats, bus, plane and train head rest. Never try on hats in department stores.
- Take a peek – I suggest daily lice checks in homes with children. Both before and after school. Catching a head lice infestation early is key – it helps to avoid a severe infestation, the spread to others and makes getting rid of lice so much easier.
- Report a head lice infestation ASAP – tell your school day care or other families that you have been in contact with so that they too can check and treat if necessary. If you don’t speak up lice may spread and continue to go around and eventually you may get it back too.
- For girls placing their hair in a pony tail as well as giving their hair a light spray with hair spray can also prevent getting lice.
Have any tips you would like to share let us know in the comment section below.