Help! I just found out we have head lice!

So you just received the unfortunate news. Maybe from you child's teacher or a friend. Maybe you discovered it yourself. What do you do?
First, take a breath and repeat after me, "It's not life or death. It's just head lice." Remind yourself that head lice are not a health issue. Just because they are icky and itchy, that doesn't mean they are a serious threat. Learn about what head lice are and are not.

Second, take another breath and say, "I can deal with this." Because you can. Think of all the other bigger problems you have dealt with in your life. This is an inconvenience but you will be able to handle this.

Third, forget a lot about what you heard about getting rid of head lice. Don't do ANY extra laundry or house cleaning - I know that most of the available information tells you that you need to bag stuffed toys and wash everything in hot water, but it is simply a waste of your time. In dealing with head lice, most people become burned out - not because of the bugs or the eggs, but because of the cleaning. Just don't do it. (Reverse NIKE psychology.)

Speaking of time wasters (and money wasters), don't put all your trust that chemical head lice treatments or "shampoos" will completely treat your head lice or reduce the time you need to spend combing. All of my business comes from people who first used a treatment (mostly the permethrin based "shampoos" like Nix and R&C). Study after study is showing that in developed nations, our lice have adapted to these pesticides. So, save your money and save your time. Head lice can be dealt with without these treatments.

Fourth, get some inexpensive tools. A great lice comb, a blow dryer, a cheap head lamp, and some cheap hair conditioner are some wonderful tools that you can use again and again with great success.

Fifth, get to work. Read this post about how to remove head lice. Again, lice only thrive on the head so this is the only area you want to spend time on. And don't feel stuck doing all the nit picking in the bathroom - pick a comfortable location. (Look where I nit pick my own children.)
Sixth, check everyone else in the household. They may not have it, but you should check to find out.
Seventh, get some rest. Have some tea or other comforting drink. Take care of yourself. This is going to be a part of your life for a while. Get informed by reading the various articles on this blog. If you start to panic, go back to step one. You need to ease your mind. This is just an inconvenience. It's part of life. You can do this.


Anonymous said...

Hello. Right now I'm dealing with head lice and I hate it! I believe that the strategies my mom and I are doing are working, but I'm just afraid that my mom won't be able to find all the lice and then a week later I'll get it again. So, how do you know when your head lice is ALL gone?

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

Hello! I understand your worries. With head lice, you can think you have it beat and then SURPRISE!, you find it again on the head.

The problem is, most people don't realize how long you should keep combing to really deal with the head lice. Many head lice treatments are NOT effective in any way and NO lice treatment is 100% effective. If we put our trust only in these so-called treatments, we are going to be very disappointed. And then there are those that are diligent in their combing, but only for a few days which can miss something.

Make sure you and your mom have a really good metal lice comb. You have to do a good wet combing (check out the blog about how to do that) every two to three days. When combing, my rule of thumb in a single combing session is that you do not stop combing until you can comb 100 strokes through the hair without finding any bugs or eggs. When you can do that, the combing is done for the day. Then, and this is the key, you do these combing sessions every 2-3 days until you have had two weeks with NO sightings of eggs or bugs. So, if you've been combing over 6 days (2-3 combings) and you finally have a combing where no nits or lice are found, then you comb (still every 2-3 days) for ANOTHER two weeks FROM THAT POINT. If in those two weeks, you find a new egg or bug, then you start again and your new two week period doesn't start until your next combing with no bugs or eggs. Once you have combed, with a proper comb, for two weeks with no sightings of eggs or bugs, you can be pretty confident that you have beaten that case of head lice.

However, remember that at anytime, you could get a new case of head lice. When I was doing lice removal in people's homes, I said I would never guarantee my work because even if I got out every nit and louse, they might get head lice from another source.

Even when you are confident that your head lice is all gone, do a quick combing once a week. You seem mature enough to do this yourself - bring your lice comb into the bath or shower once a week, condition your hair, detangle it with a regular brush or comb, and then use your lice comb to comb 50 times just to check. Regular combings will reveal any new head lice even before you start to itch.

One last thing - all this combing seems like a lot, but remind your mom that any time that she may be taking to do extra cleaning or laundry should instead be used to do the combing every 2-3 days. Compared to the cleaning and laundry that some people do, proper combing is actually a time saver! Good luck.

Anonymous said...

This past Sunday, I found lice (what I believe to have been in the "nymph" stage b/c they were super tiny) on my son's head. My niece, had had them a week or so prior, so I had been checking both of my boys, and found nothing. Well, until Sunday, of course! He was scratching, and sure enough, I used my favorite comb, the Robi Comb, and zapped a couple. Got more on Monday, and have been using the Robi Comb, and also my metal lice comb every day since. I haven't seen any more bugs, and never saw a full grown louse. Is that even possible, to only have nymphs and not full grown lice? I picked a couple of nits out of his hair this evening, but no more bugs. I'm praying that we're "clear", but will of course keep combing him, his brother, and myself! This is the second time he's had them, and it's such a nightmare.

Another You said...

I juat want to say thank you SO much for this blog! My husband and I were practically on the brink of divorce over a recent outbreak of lice in our home. Reading your posts has helped bring me back to reality, stop freaking out, and start thinking more clearly. The info is so helpful. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Help my girls are both infested and have thick curly hair

Lice-Free in Boston said...

Hi Nice Lice Lady,

I wanted to say a huge THANK YOU for your blog posts. When my partner and I both managed to get lice as adults (eek), this was the most helpful website we found and calmed us down immediately. Your guidance and tips worked and we were lice-free within a week. Thank you so much for your info. You preserved our sanity and saved us a ton of time, money and energy. You rock!