Everyone hates to get the Dreaded Letter saying that their child “may have been exposed to lice,” but as I said in Head Lice Part One, it is NO reason to panic.
But what happens when the Dreaded Letter says that your child actually has lice?
Now can you panic???
Of course not!
Nor should you go running out to the drug store or the doctor’s office for toxic chemicals to put on your child’s head.
Remember that, while I think we would all agree that lice are icky and creepy and something you definitely want off your kid’s head as soon as possible, they are NOT actually dangerous. The same cannot be said for some of the regularly recommended lice treatments.
Many of the typical over-the-counter treatments, like Nix, contain permethrin, which can cause burning, stinging, numbness, and tingling, and sometimes, headache and dizziness, and very rarely, seizures. It also can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea and vomiting. And, because it kills the lice, but not the nits, you usually have to reapply it in a week or so. Oh, and lice are becoming resistant to it, so it might not work anyway.
I think I’ll pass, thanks.
Prescriptions, such as Ovide, contain Malithion, which is easily absorbed by the skin, and in agricultural concentrations, it has proved to be extremely toxic when it has been accidentally absorbed by the skin. Oh yeah, and it’s flammable… and you have to leave it on your kid’s head for 8 to 12 hours. Whether or not it is a carcinogen, mutagen, or impairs fertility has not been studied. Is it safe to use (or handle) while pregnant? Not been studied. Does it find its way into breastmilk? Haven’t studied that either. Is it safe for kids under six? Don’t know.
Nope, not going to put that one on my kid, either.
Another prescription, usually used as a last resort, contains Lindane, which is a neurotoxin also easily absorbed by the skin and may affect the brain and the nerves. It has been known to cause seizures, and even death, even when used correctly. It is especially dangerous for infants, the elderly, anyone with a skin condition (would that include bites from lice? It didn’t say), and anyone having a second treatment. Oh, and anyone under 110 pounds—which would pretty much be all kindergarteners, right? This is another one with no carcinogenic, mutagenic, or fertility impairment studies. And no studies on its safety during pregnancy, but this one is expressed in breastmilk—so it shouldn’t be used or handled by nursing mothers. Good to know.
Definitely not putting that one on my kid! If it comes to it, I’ll just keep the lice.
But I don’t have to… because it is actually pretty easy to get rid of lice without the use of any Scary Chemicals… and it’s a lot cheaper, too, because as I understand it, you pay and arm and a leg for most of the recommended lice treatments–that might or might not work, might or might not cause cancer, and only rarely cause seizures.
To Kill Lice…
Add 25 drops of essential oils (buy quality essential oils here)
Please note: Not all essential oils are recommended for all individuals. For example, women who are pregnant are generally told to avoid rosemary oil. For more information, see Essential Oil Safety or follow the cautions and warnings on the individual oils. If you have any concerns, contact an aromatherapy expert.
For best results, use 5 drops EACH of the following:
Tea Tree (like this)
Lavender (like this)
Rosemary (like this)
Peppermint (like this)
Eucalyptus (like this)
Mix well, then add enough Castile Soap (like this) so that the mixture will completely coat your child’s hair. If you need to add more than 5 teaspoons of Castile Soap, just go ahead and double the recipe.
Work the mixture in well, paying special attention scalp, and behind the ears.
Wrap the whole wet, soapy mess in a towel and leave it for an hour or two. Conveniently, Tinker Bell movies (find out Why I Love Tinker Bell) happen to be almost exactly 90 minutes long.
Then rinse the mixture out, and shampoo well. By now most of the lice will be dead or dying, and swirling down the drain.
Next take some apple cider vinegar (like this) and rinse your child’s head, again paying special attention to the scalp and behind the ears. This is to loosen the glue that holds the nits (lice eggs) in place. Wait a minute or two and then rinse with water that is as hot as possible without burning your child! PLEASE, err on the side of too cool, rather than a scalded child!
While the hair is still wet, comb it out, first with a regular comb, then with a nit comb. (You can buy a good nit comb at any drugstore, but this one is supposed to be the end-all, be-all in nit-removal.)
This may take a while, but the comb should slide through pretty easily what with all the coconut oil, and the natural detangling properties of apple cider vinegar. Keep a vinegar-soaked towel nearby to clean off the comb, and a bowl of vinegar with a squirt of dish soap or castile soap handy to toss any adult lice you find in.
You can then leave the hair to dry naturally, or blow it dry. Lice hate the heat, and since this method of treatment isn’t flammable (unlike treatments using Malathion), blow drying is a good option.
Hopefully your child is now lice-free.
All the child’s bedding, towels, the clothes she wore since getting lice… should all be washed in HOT water and dried on HOT. Things that cannot stand being washed on hot, but would survive being dried on hot, can simply go in the dryer.
The vacuum is your new best friend. Vacuum everything. Twice. (Don’t forget the car and the car seat!)
Anything that cannot be vacuumed, washed, or dried (like hair ribbons and fragile stuffed animals) should be put in a bag for two weeks, just to be on the safe side. Lice cannot live without a human host for more than a day or two, but eggs can hatch away from humans, though the new lice will die without human blood.
Happily, lice cannot live on pets!
Continue to comb out the hair once or twice a day to remove any nits or lice that may still be clinging on. And you can probably expect to have to repeat the whole shampoo/vinegar treatment at least once.
I’m not saying that this is a fun way to spend a weekend… but it’s not the end of the world, either. And your child coming home with lice is absolutely NO reason to resort to Scary Chemicals.
However, the very best way to get rid of lice is not to get them in the first place… and my handy Lice Stay Away Spray will help with that!
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