Lice Advice via Classic Sitcoms: If it's "All in the Family" take it "One Day at a Time"

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, it has been a dark and stormy night; we even had tornado warnings today. It is 10:30 pm. I just put my son and middle daughter to bed. Why so late? Because I found head lice on my daughter's head. Yes, no one is immune from head lice, not even the children of The Nice Lice Lady. But I wasn't freaked out or upset(though I wish I had noticed it at 7:00 pm instead of 9:00 pm.) I was quite happy - random lice checks work!

My daughter had been scratching the back of her head earlier this evening. She noticed that I saw her scratching and said, "C'mon, Mom, you don't need to check - it's just a mosquito bite." I may have replied by saying, "But, my darling daughter, you must understand that regular assessment for the condition of pediculosis capitis, or head lice, is the most effective way of detecting the condition before a more serious problem arises." Hmm. I don't think I said that. I think I said something more along the lines of, "Get over here; you know the drill."

I looked in the itchy spot but found nothing. Because we were going to start supper, I reminded myself to do a more thorough check later. Which I did. At bedtime. Yawn.

I found one egg on her bangs. So, I knew we had to do the whole big lice thing, the crazy production, the...just kidding. Head lice are a treatable problem that you have to take seriously, but it doesn't mean that you have to go crazy. You may be surprised at what a non-issue this is in our house. Here's what we did...

First my 9 year old and I jumped in the bath together. We wet her hair and slathered it with cheap conditioner. Leaving in the conditioner, I brushed out the tangles with a brush. Then I grabbed my trusty, purple, $9 Walmart comb (click here for info on the comb) and started getting down to business. Combing from root to tip, I combed and combed through all of her hair until I could get to 100 strokes without finding an egg or bug. If I found a nit or a louse in my comb, I started counting at one again. After 30 minutes of combing in the bath, these were my findings: 1 adult bug (able to lay eggs), 4 nymphs (unable to lay eggs), and 3 eggs.

Once we finally reached 100 clean strokes, we hopped out. I quickly dried my daughter's hair with a blow dryer (just for drying it, not an extended directed blowing for killing nits and lice). Then, just for fun, we spent about 10 minutes looking at my daughter's lice under the microscope. I told my daughter that I thought her lice were cute but she was not convinced.

Ok, back to work. We then hopped on the couch for a good old-fashioned check through the hair with just my fingers and some good light. Yes, I said "the couch". I asked my son to take a picture of my daughter and me (see above) so you could see how we got comfy. I'm in a sweatshirt and jeans and she's watching one episode of "Madeline". That thing on my messy head is my $2 Dollarama head lamp - it's great for ensuring that you work in good light but still have your hands free. As you can see, my daughter is relaxed. I have not forbidden her to stay away from blankets or soft furniture. The only thing I am focused on is her head. I quickly looked through her hair using just a regular fine-toothed comb and scalp and found nothing. No more bugs or eggs. That purple lice comb is pretty darn good. I did a quick lice check on her brother, boiled some water and poured it in a cup filled with all our combs and brushes. Then we all went upstairs, said prayers, kissed goodnight and my son and middle daughter went to sleep. My youngest girl was already sleeping by this point, so I quietly went through her hair with my fingers (and my head lamp) while she slept. I found no bugs or eggs. After that, I grabbed a cup of tea and wrote this blog post.

What's my next order of business? I'm going to bed. No housecleaning. No stripping the sheets or putting away stuffed toys. Studies have shown that the only really effective action in the fight against head lice is in removing or killing the lice and nits that are actually on the head. In the morning, everyone is getting up a little bit earlier to get another lice check. And since I know that my middle daughter has had it, I'm going do an extensive blow drying of her sectioned hair (for info on what this does, click here). If either of my other children have any signs of lice, they will get a good wet combing too. And in the evening, we'll all have baths and comb again. I'll give myself another lice check (though I just gave myself an extensive one last night - I thoroughly comb my own hair every 1-2 days because of this business.) Regular checks will continue daily for the next two weeks.

Was this occurrence of head lice inconvenient? Sure. My dirty supper dishes are piled up. I didn't get to watch that Banksy movie that I took out from the library. But, somehow, I think I'll live. Head lice is manageable if you get a proper comb and keep your energy on the head. Lice happens. You can deal with it. I'll keep you posted on tomorrow's lice checks.

Update: The next morning, everyone else in the house got a thorough wet combing and check before the start of school, including myself. No one else has head lice and my daughter is still seemingly lice free. Of course, everyone will get another check this evening just because lice were in the house. But now they've left the building.

Update: Six days later, still no further signs of head lice. This makes me happy.

Update: As of July 6, still nothing. Combing and directed blowing really works.


Aimee said...

Hi! I'm so glad I found your blog! I was bordering on a panic attack when I found head lice on my 5 year old daughter the other day and then found some on myself! Your info is great and my panic levels are way down now! Thank you, thank you!

I'm wondering about what you do with the lice & nits you find when you're doing your head check on the couch (in reference to the pic)? Do you keep a paper towel nearby?

Also, when adult lice and nymphs are removed from the head do you squash them? Any that I found that were moving I would jab my fingernail through them and squish them. Thoughts? :)

Again, I appreciate your information and any advice!

Columbus, Ohio

Anonymous said...

My hair dryer only has hot and cool settings. Will the cool setting be sufficient?

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

What do I do with the lice/nits that I might find on the couch? I toss them in the garbage. If that means wiping them on a piece of paper towel, so be it. You don't have to kill them first. I only save them if I want to use them as samples later. With little kids, I tape them to the lid of a margarine container and we give each louse a name! Better than Cabbage Patch Kids.

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

And about the hair dryer, the cool setting will have some effectiveness but the speed of the dryer has to be on high.

Liz Rettig said...

Hi, I'm 14 and I have an older sister who had tons of lice found in her hair today. of course,i have been combing added up to hours today. Each time i find a nit or louse, i get SO relieved. One lessthing to deal with. I feel like i'll be fine because I intend on checking regularly. However.. my sister is TERRIBLE with these lice! She had lice for about two weeks after her first check and didnt tell our parents!! I dont know if its she doesnt want her boyfriend to be forbidden for a bit, but i don't want to have to deal with this! I'm doing whats effective, wet combing. Thats it, first shampoo treatment i did killed nothing. I realized then they were pretty much immune. Since I found lice in my hair, I got a haircut. I love my hair now, and I should be less likely to spread it to friends at school, right? Anyways, here are some questions:
Where should I sleep? At the moment, i'm sleeping in a hoodie and pajama pants i dont care much about on a mattress with no bedding (i understand lice are only on scalp but it just makes me feel better to do this) Also, would I be able to sleep on a sleepingbag?
Is it okay rather than the 100 combing thing, that I comb for at least one full hour every day and occasionally if I feel there is something on my scalp/if i feel an itch?
how long will sores take to heal? My head is bloody and sore in a few spots, and theres a mole on my head that for sure was bitten, and I run into it with the comb a lot, and I just.... try, to avoid it now to prevent further damage.
What should I do about my sister? Shes really touchy and is completely unaware of when shes too close to me or not. I an going to have to recuse to sit with her on the bus because thats how i GOT it. I feel the need to avoid her, and I have been. But, still. She doesnt seem to take a hint to this OR how important it is to NOT panic about finding head lice. Today we took one day off school to take as long as we needed to comb, or do whatever our dad says to. He also believes the shampoo works,(HAHAHHA) but I am going to inform them on everything I learned about lice.
Is it ok to use a metal teeth comb that was originally for fleas? We're on an extremely tight budget and its the best comb we have. None of our fingernails are long enough to pick at them, though now i have a strong urge to grow mine out.
Also about the sores, but do sores get tingly? I get tingly feelings on my head and then check but nothing really shows up in the area.

Thank you, while my sister first got her lice i cried about the thought of my hair getting cut (my hair was rainbow. i'm not kidding), and I thought if I got it I would be so. So empty. however, the haircut feels great, its less knotty and its waaaay easier to find nits or lice. I'm so gla I didn't naturally panic, I actually kind of had an attitude as if "i will thouroughly check my hair everyday until they are g o n e."

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