Advice on Lice
Now that everyone is returning from the President’s week school vacation, school nurses around the country will be conducting lice checks on your kids. I know your fingers are crossed that your kid won’t have them. Here’s what to do if they are unlucky and flunk the lice test!
We all have been or will be humbled by this little creature at some point in our lives as parents. Lice. The most democratic of pests, lice hit all socio-economic groups. Some of the best schools and cleanest scalps have ended up infested with this little critter.
The first response of panicked parents can often be to go the “shock and awe” route with heavy artillery. But the lice have built up a resistance to pesticides and there are serious health concerns about putting dangerous chemicals onto our kids scalps.
The scalp has many blood vessels that are close to the skin, making it easy for toxic substances to be absorbed directly into the blood stream. To make matters worse, children have a less mature immune system to protect them and other enzyme systems to detoxify these chemicals.
People with asthma can have very severe reactions to pesticides. They can have problems at low levels of exposure that have no apparent effect on people without these conditions, especially children. Pesticide exposure can aggravate existing health conditions. Anyone who is already ill, has chronic disease or is taking daily medication can be more at risk from exposure.
Break out the MAYO! Normally, I like to make my own mayonnaise from scratch. This is the one time that I encourage people to go to the supermarket and buy a huge container of mayo.I learned years back from my wise “old school” pediatrician that a jar of mayonnaise works wonders. Lice are killed quickly, easily, cheaply and safely with this non-toxic food product. Don’t grab mayo from the refrigerator, as it will be way too cold!I would suggest you have a special jar of mayo set aside in your kitchen cabinet for this purpose. Grab a handful (or several) and cover all of you child’s hair, being sure to get behind the ears and down the neck a little. You can cover this with a shower cap or plastic bag to keep the mayonnaise from dripping. Leave the mayonnaise on for two hours to smother the lice and developed eggs. Then, remove the shower cap or plastic and throw it away, both of you wash your hands well with soap, and shampoo the hair thoroughly. It may take two shampoos to get the hair clean. Hair comes out of this treatment very shiny and silky smooth.
If you’re not excited about using mayonnaise, here’s a recipe for a natural lice shampoo to kill the lice but not poison your child. It smells lovely!
Start with five teaspoons of Olive oil or Coconut oil.
Add five drops of each of these essential oils:
Add a small amount of regular shampoo to the mixture, and put this all over the hair – all the way to the edges. Leave this on for an hour under a tight-fitting shower cap and towel around the neck to prevent drips. Rinse the hair, and shampoo the hair.
Nitpicking is essential. Once you’ve either mayo’ed or herbally blasted your child’s head, it’s time for the real fun: nit picking. The mayonnaise or herbal shampoo may not kill the newest nits since the unborn lice inside may have not yet developed enough to need air yet. Use a special metal lice comb found in the drug stores.
When you think you are done, you want to use good lighting to check throughly the hair once it is dry. (The nits are much easier to see on dry hair.) Nits are very small and are kind of shiny at a certain angle. They are on the hair shaft itself, with the newest ones being just off the scalp and older ones being as much as an inch away from the scalp. You will have to check the hair by tiny sections, especially around the edges of the hair, at the neck, and behind the ears – although one could be anywhere. If you find any nits, you can pull them off with your fingernails, comb them off with the nit comb, or cut each hair off that contains a nit. Be sure to put each nit or hair into a bowl of vinegar or hot soapy water with ammonia added.
Good nit picking will prevent a re-infestation in 2-3 weeks. There is nothing more humbling that starting all over with this annoying pest, so it’s best to become a good nit picker!
Nit picking takes time. The whole world has to slow down so that you can methodically comb thru every strand of hair on every kid in your house and remove every darn nit!. Pretend for a minute that you are the mama chimp (or pick your favorite primate) and you are sitting in the jungle with your baby monkeys lovingly and meticulously performing this routine maintenance.
After all these years, I know that parenting is humbling. I think of lice as a sign to slow down and pay attention. Jump off the fast track if only for an afternoon. And wash those sheets and pillowcases. I hope this never happens to you, but it probably will.