Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in!

Your child comes home with head lice.  Instead of freaking out, you did the right thing.  You got informed. You got a good lice comb and started the wet combing. You didn't waste time doing unnecessary and ineffective things like extra cleaning, extra laundry and bagging up items. And within a few combings of no longer seeing any eggs or bugs, you thought, "I got this!  I've beaten head lice."
And then, the next day during what you think will be a super-quick combing, you find a nit. It must be old, right?  And then you comb a couple of more times and low and behold, you find a tiny louse.
You sigh, smile,  and say the serenity prayer.  Or, more realistically, you say, "What the !$#*&!!! Are you freakin' kidding me!?!?!" 
Snap.  You lose it.
I just want you to know that you don't have to.  If you reading this blog, then I'm certain you are dealing with head lice.  Let me assure you that with each combing it will get better and better.  But let me also assure you that finding a nit or a louse days after you thought you were rid of the problem is very common and is, in my mind, to be expected.  Because even a good lice comb can miss something the first time around. Or the second.  New eggs and new lice are often too small to be picked up by the lice comb. 
If you are going through the very unpleasant experience of finding a sign of head lice after you thought you had beaten it, please remember the following:
  1. It took you months to get head lice.  Beating it will require an intentional but manageable effort over the next few weeks.  Don't burn yourself out, but don't give up.  Just remember you are in a marathon, not a sprint.  Pace yourself.
  2. If you found something, it doesn't mean that you have failed.  In fact, it means the opposite; it proves the combing is working. 
  3. It also means you are outrunning the lice cycle.  Lice hatch and as they grow, you can get them out with your lice comb. With the combing that you are doing every few days, you will still get them out before they can lay their own eggs.
  4. Just because you found something, it doesn't mean that you are in any way back at square one. A few head lice does not an infestation make.  You are still ahead of the game and all of the hard work you have put into this is paying off. 
One other thing I should let you know is that even if you have beaten this round of head lice, you can always get a brand new case of head lice.  So, if you find head lice again, it may not be because you didn't deal with it properly the first time. It could just be that you got it again.  Lucky you. (At this point, my children would say that I'm being a 'Mommer Bummer' - it's like a 'Debbie Downer' but more maternal).  That's why it is important that even when you do beat your current case of head lice, you do regular lice checks via wet combing.

You do have this.  Really.  If you found another bug, don't think of this as a setback.  Think of this as progress. Because you can always manage the head lice as long as you can manage your own emotions and expectations.


Anonymous said...

What do I do if using a nit comb and conditioner won't comb the nits out of my hair? I have no one to help me. I've done this step repeatedly but found another live lice last night. I'm at my wits end.

Anonymous said...

This is also after two rounds of the chemical treatment found over the counter. I have used plastic and metal combs. I take pics Bc I can't see, comb, comb, comb, take another pic and they are still there

Anonymous said...

Hi Cathy. Thought you'd find this interesting. I shaved my head recently - *completely bald* with clippers (with no guard) and then a razor. My hair has been washed a few times since then and I've also used oils on my head at night (coconut oil first night, neem last night). However, my head/around ears *still* felt slightly itchy so I used a lint roller sheet on my head and picked up what looks like bug dirt! But worse than that, I found a tiny red nymph! It was just as you described - a minuscule louse. Wow. I am so sad, I can't believe it. I'm going to do the hair dryer treatments every day (is 30 minutes enough time?) and I guess keep using oil on my head every night to try to suffocate them. Can you offer any advice? I imagine the dryer will do the trick? Thank you so much, I'm feeling very discouraged.

Anonymous said...

Oops, I meant to say that I washed my head, not hair (I was only able to razor it down to stubble). And guess what I just found a little while ago? A grown louse behind my ear. Wow - I don't know what's going on. Found a couple bites two days in a row and thought maybe one was still hanging around in my bed. So now I'm back to using vinegar and conditioner to try to kill anything left, and scrubbing my head wish a washcloth. What a nightmare this has been. I welcome your expert opinion.

Anonymous said...

Hello! One last comment. What I thought was a nymph turned out to be just a red thread, thankfully. I did seem to have one straggler louse, though. But now I think I'm OK. And if I'm not OK then I'll just shave my head again, and would suspect I'm getting reinfested by someone. Some people do have really horrible experiences with lice & unfortunately I'm one of them. Thanks for your kindness.

Tarali said...

You cannot know how relieved I am to find your blog. I have been dealing with lice on my children for what feels like years (realistically it's been a few months). I have felt like a failure as the little buggers keep popping up every few weeks. I've done the cleaning and the pesticides and felt like I was at my wits end every time a new one popped up. I religiously check and comb my daughters hair but there they are. I am glad I'm not alone. After reading through your blog I now have hope and new tools! Thank you!

Anna said...

dear cathy, i had lice 6 month ago,im by own im 20 years old i dont have access to products, after each period of time i feel like something is itching or a movement in my hair, i have no one to check me for lice, i tired everything and nothing seems to work like oils and combing btw i didnt see any nit or lice yet again, plz help me im so scared and embarrassed.

Trevor McClintock said...

you can check for head lice or nits by parting the hair in several spots. You can use a magnifying glass and a bright light to help spot them.

Unknown said...

Hi, I'm 16 an I cried when my mom found a hatched nit on my head. Since then, I've found nits, hatched and unhatched,but no bugs yet. At night, I always feel crawling in my hair. I've had my mom check my hair several times but she hasn't found any bugs. She thinks that whatever bug laid all those nits didn't like my hair, due to vinagre treatments I've done, and have left my hair for one of my siblings. I did a wet comb through with a metal comb and did not find any bugs. I'm just afraid that if any missed eggs hatch on my head, I won't be able to kill or remove them and I'll be re-infested. Any suggestions??:(

Chameleon said...

Thank you so much for your blog. It can be such an emotional thing to deal with! My mother tormented my sister and I when we got it as kids. As a mother of a 7 year old daughter now, I am doing everything I can to make this a positive bonding experience where I show her my love is unconditional. I appreciate the calm voice of your blog, the advice, and the solidarity. Thank you!!

Unknown said...

i had lice about a mouth ago and i've had many people check my head and find nothing but i've been finding dead lice occasionally when i shower and stuff. i've found around 3 dead lice in the month period since my treatment and i've had people check my hair and find nothing. do i still have lice? my head has been itchy but i also have a very dry scalp and lots of dandruff

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I recently found out I had lice when I was getting laser done on my face. The lady doing my laser treatment noticed that a louse was crawling in my hair, and asked me if i was aware i had head lice. I freaked out. We stopped the treatment, as she did not want to have the area infected by lice for other patients, and i didn't mind because i wanted those things out of my hair. My mom bought Nix, and applied one treatment so far. We combed out some nits and dead lice, i saw one or two adult lice. We did the same yesterday without nix. we put vinegar on my hair and my little sister's because we both have lice, as my mom found out she had it as well, possibly we got it from each other using the same brushes. we put conditioner after the vinegar treatment to loosen the eggs, but we found it difficult determining what was eggs and what was conditioner residue. we bought a metal nit comb, and my mom combed through each strand of my hair like 4 or 5 times, but i still see nits today! and im really itchy. of course i have to go to work, so i tied my hair up in a bun so i dont give it to anyone. i dont want to cut my hair, it took long to grow. i feel like this won't go away.

Unknown said...

I kept having a feeling of something moving on my head and with two kids in preschool I asssumed it was lice. Nothing to be found on their heads and all I could find after a few days of trying to talk myself out of the idea of bugs, I found small white dots on a small section of my hair. I assumed these were eggs and did a major clean of the house, doused everyone hair is 'lice free' spray, and combed like crazy. I didn't find anything but again just a few small white dots in one section of my hair---would I of found a bug by now?? It's been approximately six days since I got the crawling feeling with an occasional itch on my head. My boys scratch there head every now and again but my husband said they always did it. Am I being parinoid?!?!?!

Anonymous said...

Hi Cathy. I'm wondering how to get a hold of you thru email, please. I've read all your blog posts and saw your email address in one of the posts or comments section of a post, but can't recall which one. Thank you

Anonymous said...

This isn't exactly topical to this post, but I didn't know where else to post it. THANK YOU!!!! I am a Peace Corps volunteer in Central Asia, and about a week ago I discovered I had lice. I was devastated, because I had never had them before, even as a child, and I had no idea what to do. The doctor we have isn't well versed in headlice, and the family I live with just shaved all the children's heads when I told them. I have really long hair, that I love, and I felt so overwhelmed. So, I started Googling. I came across this blog very quickly, and I immediately felt like there was hope. I'm living in a place that I have to do laundry by hand, and I didn't want to have to throw out all my things. When I read that that was unnecessary, I started crying from relief. I was able to find a plastic lice comb at a small pharmacy(metal ones aren't a thing here), and another volunteer graciously said she would comb my hair for me since there is so much of it. Thank you so much!!! This blog saved my hair, bedding, and sanity!!!

Katlin Francisco said...

Hello! I would like to talk to you about your experience as a lice removal specialist. I guess that's what you would call it. Anyways, I don't think we have anything like that in our area and i would love to see what I would need to do to start a lice clinic and maybe eventually even do house calls. I started reading your blog when my cousins came to Missouri from Louisiana and were pretty infested with lice. You gave me to confidence to help them out without freaking out and i also invested in the terminator lice comb that has been a life saver. If you want i could give you my email somehow or I can email you so we can discuss it in more detail. I'm a stay at home mom and i have three kids all girls and I'm interested in spreading awareness about the reality of lice and wanting to help those who may not be able to handle them on their own. Thank you for your amazing blog and helpful information!

Unknown said...

For those of you above with questions - read as many posts in this blog as you can. The wet combing combined with blow drying really really works.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I would like to know what constitutes as an itchy head?

Nameless in NY said...

Hi Nice Lice Lady,
Thank you for hosting this great blog, I very much appreciate it.
I've had a problem for at least a month. I've had it a couple times before, years ago, so thihs is nothing brand new.
I've tried most of the OTC and prescription options, nearly every day I comb with the Terminator and use a regular blowdryer (mostly on cool.)
I just cut my hair around the sides and neck to 1/8th in. and on top about 1/2 in.
My girlfriend says she can't see anything, the derm says she can't see anything, but I still feel things crawling around and I still get bites.
Any suggestions? Do you recommend the electronic 'combs', or use of peppermint or other oils?
Do you recommend professional lice killers like Licenders?
Thanks again for hosting this site!

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Anonymous said...

If anyone can answer this for me, I just want to know if nits grow larger or do they just grow darker in color? I think I read that when they are first laid, they are very tiny and then get bigger? This would explain why when I comb through my daughter's hair, I keep finding nits that I missed before. Because maybe before they were just too tiny to see, until they grew bigger? Or maybe they don't grow and I simply missed some, or a live louse is laying more eggs.

I discovered lice a week ago in my daughter's hair, did natural treatments such as coconut oil and vinegar, and go through her her one super thin line at a time. I don't use a nit comb because her hair is so fine, it slips through the teeth of the comb with the nits on it. So I take a rat tail comb and part her hair into lines so thin, I can see through them and I hold that bit of hair up and look with the light shining on it. I have to pull out every single nit with my fingernails and it takes me between 1-2hrs. each time. I've been doing this every other day for a week as it's too time intensive to do every day. The nits were reducing, or so I thought, until today when I found more!! :( I thought we had it down to 1 nit, then tonight I found 8 and am so discouraged.

I am re-treating her tomorrow night on day 7 from the day I first discovered them. I am starting with soaking her dry hair in apple cider vinegar (less harsh on her skin) for 2hrs. up in a shower cap to loosen nits. Then I will soak in some sort of oil, mixed with several drops of pure tea tree oil overnight. The next morning I will go through her hair again meticulously every other day and then if the nits get less and less, I will start spreading out the combings. This is soooo time intensive!!! I am just hoping the natural methods work as I don't want to use chemicals!

I wish the lice lady was still reading her comments and responding. :( My last question is since my daughter's hair is so fine and I am parting her hair into super thin lines and pulling the nits out myself, do I still need to comb the full length of the hair? I mean the nits and lice are all by the scalp so why do I have to comb the length? I think that is only for a comb, and again combs don't pull the nits out of my daughter's super fine hair.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, thank you for your blog. I recently found a louse while doing my 6 year old sons hair. I checked my 10 year old daughter and 2 year old son and they had them too! I called the school and kept them home, did a treatment and combed like crazy. When my 13 and 15 year olds (girls with long hair) came home I treated them also. I also treated myself. It's been 8 days and I am combing every other day (or trying) all 6 of us. I am still seeing what I think are nits and young lice but rarely adults. I am getting so frustrated and exhausted! I want to cry every time I find a nit. Is there anything else I can be doing? I am going insane.