effective treatments for lice

Every parent’s worst nightmare… your child scratches their head, and you think nothing of it.  A few seconds later, they scratch again, and it gives you pause.  The third time they scratch, it gives you chills. 

Lice are THE WORST.  I wish I didn’t know from first hand experience. A few months ago, I discovered my daughter got lice from school.  My beautiful, precious 5-year-old baby had living insects breeding, laying eggs and living off her scalp.  Horrified doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt.  When I discovered them, I called my mom, and bawled over the phone because it happened to occur at a rather challenging point in my life, and I will never forget what she said: “it doesn’t get worse than lice”. 

She was absolutely right.  Lice was my rock bottom.  It is a place I never, never, want to be again. But I digress…

I read approximately 200 articles on how to get rid of lice.  I didn’t want to expose my daughter to toxins or poisons, but, I needed the lice gone, without a question.  They had to go, and quick.  I took several different approaches, covered my bases, and within 2 days, the living lice were gone, and after a week, there were no more signs of nits. 

Effective Treatments for Lice

First, and foremost, I feel it’s important that if you discovered lice, please rest assured it has nothing to do with cleanliness.  My family is clean, we have good hygiene habits, but those tiny, creepy critters are quick and spread easily, especially among children.  I was surprised to learn how many other moms I knew that have had to deal with lice. 

Here is what I did to get rid of lice:

  • Wash EVERYTHING – So, so, so much laundry is necessary when lice show up. I washed my daughter’s sheets every night for a week.  I washed all of the throw blankets she used.  I washed the towels she used every day.  Her clothes, jackets, hats, and any other article of fabric that she used, and could be washed, were washed.  I even washed the rugs in the bathroom.  I used my regular laundry detergent, but turned my washing machine onto hot, for every load of laundry.
  • Buy a Bottle (or two) of wine – you’re gonna need it.
  • Stuffed Animals Gotta Go – All of her stuffed animals, hair ties, and brushes were put into plastic trash bags, sealed, and thrown into the garage.  Nits hatch in 7-10 days, and lice cannot live without a host for more than 24 hours, so two-weeks should be sufficient to ensure no lice eggs survive, but I kept them out there for a month. #overkill
  • Coal Tar Shampoo – Coal Tar shampoo is recognized as an effective treatment for lice, so I used it as soon as we discovered the lice.  We used Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo, and I can tell you that it works!  After the first application, I could see dead lice falling out of her hair (total ick factor).  Warning: EWG says this stuff is pretty toxic.  I normally wouldn’t use anything with such a bad EWG rating, but… lice.  And it was only needed temporarily.  I used coal tar shampoo the first day we discovered the lice, and every 3 days for a 2 week period.
  • Tea Tree Treatment – The day after the discovery, I mixed 1/4 cup conditioner with 15 drops tea tree essential oil  and slathered it onto her scalp and hair.  I put her hair up in a shower cap, and let it sit for 3 hours, then rinsed it out.  I did the tea tree treatment once.
  • Nit Picking – Is a term I will never use again.  Nit picking, the bane of my existence for that week.  It sucks, but is pretty necessary if you don’t want eggs hatching and having to start over again from square 1. Make sure you get a metal comb, not a plastic one. And if you don’t know how to nit pick, here is a youtube video that will do a better job explaining it than I can.  I nit picked every night for a week, which is when I no longer found any eggs.
  • Preventative Treatment – The lice are gone (knock on sooo much wood), but along with praying to the higher powers that I never, ever, go through the process again, I am using a natural, preventatitve shampoo on my little darling once a week, until she gets out of grade school.  It’s a bit pricey, but one bottle should last several months, when used only once / week.

And that’s how we got rid of lice. 

I never got them, even though she had slept in my bed a few nights before we discovered the infestation.  How did I get a pass?  I think it’s because I blow dry and straighten my hair. I was also grateful, for the first time, that my baby boy was still pretty much bald.  No hair = no lice. 

Have you ever dealt with lice?  Do you have any tips on how to eradicate them? Share your advice or leave questions in the comments below!

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2 Responses to Effective Treatments for Lice

  1. Corinne says:

    I’m so sorry you had to go through this. We’ve also had our own run-in with lice and it was a stressful time since all of the females in this household have long hair. To this day I still add a few drops of tea tree oil to our shampoo to ward off the little monsters off and I blow dry my youngest daughter’s hair dry at least once a week. We didn’t try the coal tar shampoo but I’ll remember that tip in case we (hopefully not!) or anyone I know ever faces this problem again.

    • Andrea says:

      Oh no, sorry to hear you’ve had a run in with it, too! Isn’t it awful? I think adding a few drops of tea tree oil to your shampoo is a great idea! I will try that when we run out of our tea tree oil shampoo. Thanks for the tip!

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