You get the dreaded call from the school nurse: lice outbreak in your kid’s class. Again. You check your children’s heads and you don’t find anything. Nits are soooo easy to miss. Plus you have that meeting to rush off to in 20 minutes. There’s just no time to be thorough. The day was spiraling out of control even before the nurse’s call! What are you going to do? Who should you call? Should you cancel play-dates and piano lessons? Warn the Moms of the kids who came to a sleepover at your place last weekend? Rush to the drugstore? Confess to the strangers at the bus stop? Panic?
Chances are if you’ve lived this nightmare before, you’ve done all those things. The thought of doing them again is making it hard to breathe right now. And if you’re reading this because you’re dealing with your very first bout of lice infestation, you have absolutely no idea where to start and the panic is rising even as you read this. Know there are some tricks of the trade you can use. Wisdom that’s been hard-earned. Be sure to pass it on. Later. Right now, it’s time to get down to business. Keep reading.
8 Tips to Maintain a Lice-Free Environment
1. Change pillowcases every night- Or you can safety-pin a new pillowcase on top of the pillow and place a large towel or half-sheet over the head of the bed. Instead of washing everything each night, just put the laundry into a plastic trash bag labeled with the date and wait 49 hours. You can then safely put those linens back on the bed.
2. Wait it Out- Know your enemy. Lice need blood within 48 hours. So you can avoid any and all remediation on your house (including laundry), by making a reservation at a hotel. You need to leave the house completely for 49 hours. All the lice will starve to death while you’re gone. It’s okay to leave the pets. Lice are species-specific, meaning pigeon lice can’t affect people and vice versa. The kids like the hotels with a water feature. Take a novel.
3. Never EVER share combs, hairbrushes, hats, helmets or hair accessories- We got lice from a shared hairbrush on a camping trip. Don’t do that. Put every comb, hairbrush and plastic hair accessories in the dishwasher. Run the cycle on hot. Then put each person’s name on their comb or brush and keep everyone’s items in their own jelly jar.
4. Keep long hair braided- Long hair can get everywhere and pick up everything. There’s a reason why Girls of Yore braided their hair. Lice can’t fly, but they are master crawlers and clingers. They know just what to do and where to hide in long flowing hair. They have a hard time climbing up shiny braids, though. There are lots of cute styles. Try YouTube if you need step-by-step help.
5. Wear a hat to school- A scarf or headband can work, too. It’s a mall trip that’s well worth it. Anything to keep the hair contained.
6. Get picky about sleepovers- Kids usually don’t get lice from school-they get it from sleepovers. Let your kiddo hang with friends, but pick her up late in the evening and drop her off again the next morning for breakfast. She won’t miss a thing. It’s a little more work for you, but well worth it. We got lice from a sleep over once, 6 out of 7 girls ended up with it. It was a very sweet bonding experience, as we nitpicked each other's children. If there is nothing you can do about the sleepover (Christmas with the cousins), make everyone wear a hat or soft headband, and don’t let them sleep head-to-head.
Girls love to play with one another’s hair, so buy some combs and hair ties as party favors and color coordinate or write their names on them so they don’t get mixed up. Girls don’t want lice either. Believe me, they CARE. We also got lice once from a school overnight trip. There’s not much you can do about that except make sure the school is aware and up-to-date on safe lice practices.
7. Nit Pick- If you don’t think you have lice, but want to be sure, you can learn to nit-pick yourself. Get your set-up ready. You’ll need an adjustable bright light to set on a counter-top or its own stand. A fine-toothed comb (the ones with a pointy handle help to part the hair easily), a lice comb, a magnifying glass, and a piece of white paper. Hair clips are handy, too. If you really don’t want to learn to nitpick, there are very nice people out there who love to do it and are good at it. Ask around or call a teacher. These people don’t tend to advertise.
8. Prevent- Spray a little mist of essential oil on your child’s head when they go to school or on a play-date. A few drops of tea tree oil or lavender oil in water is all you need. You can also add a few drops of essential to face cream or coconut oil and dab a little behind their ears and on the backs of their necks. In a pinch, you can use vapor-rub.
What NOT to DO:
DO NOT stick your head in the sand- The problem will still be there when you come out.
DO NOT throw Fido in the washing machine or put nasty poisons on him- He'll just get mad. Besides, pets cannot harbor human lice.
DO NOT keep it to yourself- You’ll lose friends this way. Call all possible people you may have exposed to lice immediately. Here’s the script: “I just wanted you to know that my little angel (Peter) has been exposed to lice (at school, sleepover, etc.). I’m not sure if he has it but I wanted you to be aware of the situation.” This is a non-committal warning to all interested parties. Remember, what happened at school or at a sleepover was out of your control. Their first question will be “WHAT do I do?!?!” This is why you call immediately, even before you check. You MUST answer honestly. “I don’t know, I’m new to this.” Keep it simple, exchange information and get off the phone. Do not commiserate. Do not blame or speculate. You are all business. You have some things to do.
Sadly, lice is epidemic now. Because of the chemical pesticides in hair lice products, lice is getting stronger and more difficult to get rid of. Lice cross all socio-economic, age, gender (although it prefers girls) and political spectrums. It’s not the result of poor hygiene. Actually, lice prefer clean hair because oily hair is more slippery and difficult to cling to. Getting lice is humiliating for children and their families. Try to be sensitive to people’s feelings. Offer solutions when you can. Parents can feel very alone and scared. You can do this.
At this point, maybe you’re still not convinced you’ve done everything you should. You’re probably starting to see things, you may feel itchy and you may be getting paranoid.
You NEED a guarantee that the lice are gone. Think it sounds too good to be true? Well, just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean you don’t have them. If you need a guarantee, I definitely have one for you. I’ve used my own nightmare experiences to find a solution that I DO fully guarantee because it just plain works. Trust me, I tried everything out there and, ultimately, I was compelled to create something better. Several times, in fact. Now I no longer worry about the threat of lice- not even a little. No one else needs to suffer like I did. Paranoia and disgust with your immediate environment really isn’t an acceptable state of being.