Lice can spread quickly through classrooms and families. The child might feel slightly itchy as it crawls through the scalp, and soon thereafter little white “nits” or live eggs will be left along the hair shaft like miniature tear drops. If you suspect your child has lice, look closely at the hair shafts, especially behind the ears and along the hair line in the back. You’ll see small white tear drop shaped spots clinging to the hair. It doesn’t brush away like a piece of dandruff would. You have to use your fingernails to pull them off. These nits use a special cement to help them adhere to a strand of hair.
Getting Rid of Lice
Put a couple ounces of rubbing alcohol on a white towel and rub the hair with this. The alcohol is so aversive to lice that you won’t often get any live lice coming off on the towel. Use one of the over the counter permethrin-containing shampoos or rinses (examples: Nix Cream Rinse or RID). These products kill the lice and their nits. It’s very important to avoid getting it in your child’s eyes. Apply as directed and keep it on the hair for a full 10 minutes. You can brush the hair while it’s saturated with the rinse to ensure that every strand is covered. You can then rinse the hair.
Some alternative techniques
- Saturate the hair with Cetaphil (an over-the-counter skin cleanser). When the hair is completely saturated, use a hair dryer to blow it dry. The application of heat shrinks the Cetaphil and kills the lice and their nits.
- Mix baking soda and cream rinse together (it can be any brand of cream rinse)……saturate the hair and fastidiously comb the hair with a special lice comb. You must methodically reach each strand of hair with your combing technique to eradicate all the nits.
It’s imperative that every item of clothing, bedding and upholstery that might have been contaminated by the lice gets washed. Use hot water and also hot dry for twenty minutes. To avoid recontaminating hair from the clothes you were wearing before applying the lice-killing shampoos, change shirts before rinsing out the cream rinse. Put all contaminated clothes into large plastic bag while you’re waiting to wash them. The lice can’t survive that long without a host, so quarantining stuffed animals and bulky pillows in closed plastic bags for two weeks can stop re-infestation. Vacuum upholstery, fabric furniture, and car seats. Then cover them with a sheet or bedspread until you’re sure that they’re lice free. Disinfect brushes, scrunchies, hair bands, barrettes, etc.
Getting Rid of the Nits
There are several products on the market that help loosen nits (examples: Clear Lice Egg Remover). Apply as directed to loosen the nits, and then comb out. Don’t be discouraged when you still see nits. They’re presumably dead after you’ve used the rinse.
Most parents will repeat the lice treatment a week later to “catch” any lice that might have been missed. These substances are irritating and they shouldn’t be used over and over again. If there’s a recurrence of lice, an old-fashioned non-toxic treatment you can use is applying mayonnaise to the hair and having each strand saturated. Then let your child put on a bathing cap and sleep with the mayonnaise hair tonic. Any standard brand will do. In the morning, rinse out the mayonnaise and shampoo as usual. This technique does work. A treatment used in India is mixing 100% coconut oil with a small amount of vinegar and applying it to the hair. Applying hair gel when there’s a lice outbreak in your child’s class might help by making the hair less adhesive to the lice. Using shampoos that contain tea tree oil (example: the original Prell) is also supposed to be helpful.