I got that dreaded note home from school. “There has been a confirmed case of lice in your child’s school.“ Lice! Eeek! I’ve not had any personal experiences with it yet and hope I never do but I wanted to look into it so that if it does happen, I’d have a plan of attack and not be stuck at the drugstore buying a toxic chemical potion. Which is what happened to my dear friend Sommer when she was on vacation! Her story is not an unfamiliar one and reading her personal experience with it, I just shook my head in agreement because I probably would have done the same thing given the circumstances. The note goes on to outline all the toxic pesticides you can marinate your child’s head in and I would rather avoid it at all costs.
Unfortunately, when you do go to a drugstore the options available to us are sometimes not so vast. A quick glance at the selection of cures in the grocery store left 2 options, one a common brand called Nix. Sommer did a great job at highlighting some of the natural brands and services available to treat lice such as Lice Happens, which is a service you can contact that will help you deal with and rid your life of a lice infestation. They carry their own natural products as well.
But I wanted to also provide some tips I found comforting and a few other ideas that I thought might be comforting to someone dealing with an infestation or like me, it has occurred to a child in your school and you want to be prepared. So here we go.
Preventing lice is not really a 100% fool proof practice. It happens and it’s not life threatening (there are worse things!) but very inconvenient. I don’t know one person who wouldn’t take a few precautions if it’s possible to skirt a lice infestation. There are a few products that swear they are effective in deterring lice. One is a product line I am familiar with and love and that is Babo Botanicals Lice Repel Shampoo and Conditioning Spray. Babo Botanicals had their product tested and it was deemed 95% effective in repelling lice.
Happy Heads has an array of Lice Prevention products and systems including their Scootie-Cootie Organic Repelling Shampoo and Leave-in Conditioner & Detangler. They’re infused with 100% pure essential oils and are sulfate & paraben free. Safe for use daily!
Lice Happens also has a Lice Repellent Spray which is free from pesticides. It’s safe to use daily and their special mint formula repels head lice. You can use it daily on kids who may be exposed to head lice at school, camp, playgrounds, sleepovers, or wherever kids play together. Those play places that have dress up always give me the heebs.
Washington Toxics Coalition offers some great advice that doesn’t require chemical intervention. Here are some highlights:
- Encourage your child not to share headphones, headrests, hats, hair ribbons, barrettes, scarves, bicycle helmets, brushes or combs.
- Talk with your child’s teachers about storing coats in cubbies rather than hanging them on hooks where they can come in close contact with each other.
Preparation & Treatments
Having a few tools and products on hand in the event of lice can be a saving grace. You can’t control every situation… you may be on vacation and without a choice, or visiting relatives and don’t have your supplies. But if it strikes while you’re home you at least have the tools necessary to start treating the problem right away and naturally without having to resort to the selection at CVS. That works too but if you’d rather not use a chemical pesticide on your kids head, then here’s a few things you may want to have available:
Lice/Nit Comb. Apparently many kits come with one but the “good” ones are ideal because they are made with stainless steel and are more effective in removing lice and nits. One of the most popular ones is called Nit Free Terminator, which you can also find at Babo Botanicals for $12. It seems steep for a lice comb but I’ve heard from other mothers who have dealt with lice that having a good comb makes a huge difference in removing and ending the nightmare. I’d say having on in your house for a just in case situation is warranted. Another one which is considered the “Gold Standard” by HeadLice.org is the LiceMeister. I’ve also seen the Robi Comb (thank you Green and Clean Mom for pointing that one out) an that looks like a good thing to have around. Though some have suggested that it’s not effective in finding and removing the eggs.
Topical Lice Treatments. Here’s where it gets tricky. Since any immediate solution is going to fall in the drugstore category, you’re left with few non-toxic options. Most non-toxic solutions need to be ordered online and waiting for a delivery while lice is running rampant in your home sounds horrific. So having something around “just in case” can save you. Here is a list of brands that are free of toxic pesticides and use natural ingredients to treat and remove lice:
I don’t recommend trying other suggested natural remedies that I’ve seen circulating in the past, and advise that a pesticide free product specifically made to remove and kill lice and nits is the best way to go. According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “Studies have shown lice can survive in hair covered with olive oil, mayonnaise and even petroleum jelly–even when it is left on the hair overnight.” So this isn’t always a good option.
Tips For Removing Lice From Your Home
Removing the nits from your child’s heads is the key and not treating your home. Though follow up cleaning is advisable. Using pesticides to spray your home is not recommended and unnecessary.
- Diligent and daily combing to remove lice and nits is key. This should be done twice daily for at least 12 days or more.
- Wash clothing, towels and bedding in hot water and tumble-dry on high heat for 30 minutes.
- Soak brushes and combs in hot water above 130° F for 30 minutes or or soak combs and brushes in rubbing alcohol for an hour.
- Vacuum floors, furniture and bedding your child may have had contact with. After vacuuming, remove the bag, seal the openings and dispose of it properly.
- Bag up items that can’t be laundered (like stuffed toys) for 2 weeks.
- Washington Toxics Coalition – Get Ahead of Lice
- The Mayo Clinic
- National Pediculosis Association – HeadLice.org
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Managing Head Lice Safely