Lice Prevention Spray (And What Every Parent Needs To Know About Head Lice)
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Alright guys... a post I was never planning on having to write from experience, but here we are about a month removed from our first (and hopefully last) hair nightmare. You see, my family is what you can call a hairy family, see photo below LOL. Us girls all have hair down our backs and my husband has quite a bit of thick full hair for a male. So needless to say, lice is a thing of nightmares... although a nightmare that I never really considered until it happened. So today I will share with you how we discovered these pests, what we found that treated them, and what I am doing now to prevent this from happening again. I will not claim expert status on this topic but I will say that I have researched and learned far far more than I ever have wanted to learn about head lice and today I will share with you the stomach turning details.. just make sure that you you are not eating while you read this LOL.
The Discovery Phase
So our journey began when I was feeling under the weather and confined to the bed and couch. One of my daughters had woken up at night and was furiously itching her head, and even in my sick state my mind immediately started thinking through all the possibilities including lice. My husband convinced me I was overreacting and that she was just hot and sweaty as she tends to get like this occasionally. So the next day I wasn't even thinking about it until my other daughter came inside from playing and started itching her head uncontrollably. I turned to my husband and told him this had to be lice. He was still not convinced so I started combing through her hair looking for proof. And proof I found. I pulled out a full grown bug and showed my husband and he finally conceded. I headed to the store to get treatment while he stayed home to start the laundry process.
The Treatment Phase
I found myself in the pharmacy aisle looking at the different options and feeling so overwhelmed. As a mom that tries to live naturally, I was having a hard time with buying the medicated/pesticide shampoos. Part of me thought well I remember using it as a kid myself and I turned out just fine so surely this would be fine for them. And part of me was carefully searching for other options. My eyes landed upon a box that stated "no pesticide lice treatment". I immediately went to the internet to read any reviews that might be out there regarding this product. Amazon had very high reviews with many people saying that this worked better than many of the pesticide treatments. I put about five boxes in my cart (no joke, we have a lot of hair) and headed home. We placed the treatment in all of our hair and waited thirty minutes before brushing out with the provided comb as the directions stated. I can not even begin to tell you how many of those little critters we brushed out of both of my daughters hair... and even a few out of mine (gasp)!! Five hours later we were so excited to be lice free following the treatment.
In the subsequent weeks however they returned three times, I was beside myself, as was my husband. You see, every time this happened he was the designated laundry parent while I was the designated comb-through-the-girls-hair-painstakingly parent. I would have gladly taken the laundry! So what I was unaware of at first was that the treatment we used (and same as most other treatments) will take care of the active lice, however all of the eggs that the lice laid prior to this point (gross I know) are still glued onto the hair shaft unless they are carefully brushed out. Any viable eggs not removed will then hatch between 5-10 days post treatment. These newly hatched lice will then relay eggs within 48 hours and the cycle will renew itself. So the point of this?? You must break the cycle by removing all the eggs prior to them hatching or remove all newly hatched lice prior to them laying eggs again before you can truly be rid of the lice.
All the research I have done on this subject points to the fact that the pesticide shampoos (like RID and NIX) which claim to kill the lice and the eggs are actually no longer effective because many lice outbreaks these days are known as "super lice" meaning they are resistant to these pesticides (Di Campli et. al. 2012). Therefore the best way to remove and take care of a lice outbreak is to brush out all active lice and meticulously comb through the hair and remove every last egg/nit. Now, trust me, I know this is much easier said than done. My back and my neck would be screaming in pain (or it could have just been my kids screaming and crying like I was torturing them) after I was done combing through their hair for hours at a time. And then I would have my own hair to comb through... suffice it to say it was a frustrating few weeks. Long story short, after much research, a visit to the lice specialist, and trial and error... here is what I found that has truly worked to get these things out of our life. Read to the end to see the spray we now use in hopes that we will prevent these pests from ever entering our lives again!
My Lice Treatment Protocol: How To Get Rid Of Lice
1. Buy Lice MD. This is the product that worked best for us, and we tried two different products and a natural home remedy of coconut oil/essential oils. Not only is it effective in killing the active lice but it is also a silicone based product which means it will be super easy to brush your hair through thoroughly, even our long and tangly prone hair was a breeze to brush through. Be sure to buy enough to treat everyone in the house so that you are not unknowingly transferring from one person to the other.
2. Buy a Lice Terminator Nit Comb. If you only take one piece of my advice, do this. The combs that come with the treatments are really terrible quality, sharp, and very inefficient on any degree of thick or textured hair.
3. Place treatment in hair and leave for 1-3 hours. In the directions it will say that 30 minutes is sufficient, however the longer the treatment is left in the hair the higher the chance for it to soften and loosen up the eggs/nits and make those easier to comb out.
4. Comb out in the shower or over a towel- this product will be very slippery and fly everywhere so be careful, you will need to thoroughly clean the tub afterwards if this is where you treat. Be sure to comb in all directions, paying closest attention to behind your ears and the nape of your neck.
5. During combing be sure to have a paper towel (or multiple) handy to wipe off the comb after each pass. Comb 100 passes after your last encounter with a visible lice/louse.
6. While treatment is undergoing be sure to wash all sheets and blankets and place all stuffed animals and hats/headwear in a trash bag and keep sealed for two weeks. This will kill any present lice without washing.
7. For 4 weeks you will need to comb your hair with the nit comb every five days to continue to remove any unseen/untreated nits. If you are persistent with this it will help to make sure you break the cycle of new hatching lice. If you do detect any lice during this process you will want to begin the treatment phase back at step one again.
8. Be sure that you are wearing your hair up daily until this cycle is broken and spray with the lice prevention spray daily!
* Note that there are lice specialists in many cities now due to the high volume of lice cases that seem to be popping up everywhere. The lice specialists will perform similar natural protocols to what I have just described here but they will charge you a hefty fee for their great service. Every city will likely be different but for the length of me and my girls hair it would have ran us around $600 or more to treat us all!
The Prevention Phase
Congratulations, you have now made it past the grueling treatment phase and are now ready for the most important phase... PREVENTION so that this doesn't have the chance to interfere with your lives again!
Head Lice Prevention Spray Recipe
Ingredients and Supplies Needed
25 Drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
10 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
5 Drops Peppermint Essential Oil
4 oz Glass Spray Bottle
Optional: Mini Funnel
You will first want to fill approximately 1/3 of your bottle with the 70% alcohol. Now add all of your essential oil drops and swirl to combine everything. Now fill the remainder of the bottle (up to the start of the neck of the bottle) with distilled water. Spray in your children's hair (and your hair too!) every day before school and before events where they will be around other children.
This recipe gives a little over a 1% dilution of tea tree oils which a study has shown to be effective at killing lice and nits (Di Campli et.al 2012) and I feel to also be a good method for prevention. I have recommended to add an additional boost of lavender and small amount of peppermint which have also shown efficacy in prevention and treatment of head lice.
Well I will leave you with all that information that I hope you never need to have... but if you do need it I truly hope it helps as this process can be a frustratingly rough one, but equipped with the knowledge and tools to beat those pests the treatment and eradication can go smoothly! Let me know if you have any questions and best of luck!
Di Campli E, Di Bartolomeo S, Delli Pizzi P, Di Giulio M, Grande R, Nostro A, Cellini, L. 2012. Activity of tea tree oil and nerolidol alone or in combination against Pediculus capitis (head lice) and its eggs. Parisitology Research 111(5) 1985-1992.