Please if you are super sensitive don’t read this. You will scratch your head for the rest of the day. Furthermore – this is not an expert opinion, just things I’ve tried and what worked and what didn’t work.
I’ve mentioned in a previous post that we have been battling an ongoing war against lice since January.
It seems although we have finally won the war but I thought it may be useful to write a whole post about remedies, detection, flops and myths… Please keep in mind that my experience may be a bit in the extreme because Zoe has very curly, very very very thick hair and it hangs on her bum.
I was under the impression that you would actually see these little critters. People always say that you would see it behind the ears and in the neck – everywhere where it is warm. I’ve never seen a single lice on Zoe’s head except when I comb it with that small little comb.
Itching only starts after about 3 months of infestation and by that time the infestation is severe.
So how did I find it on Zoe’s head? The first sign was a rash in her neck – the bloody things bit her in her neck.
And then we saw these strange little white “things” in her hair – even hairdressers don’t know what lice look like – when I took her to the hairdresser the hairdresser said it was dry scalp, but it was actually the nits (eggs)
We finally managed to see one of the critters when we stood outside in the sunshine and we pulled her hair apart quickly, lice hate light and move very quickly.
Run your fingers around your child’s scalp – any strange bumps or scabs may be a sign of lice. If the bump hurts it is most definitely lice.
And if you see little black dots on your child’s scalp – scratch it – you may just catch a juvenile one – they actually burrow into the skin and it looks like little black dots.
Colouring the hair doesn’t kill lice and it doesn’t prevent you from getting it – I can say so from experience because I colour my hair and I got it from Zoe.
To straighten your hair won’t kill them all and it won’t prevent you from getting it. Once again I’m living proof.
Clean hair, dirty hair – nothing deters them.
It’s not harmless – it itches like hell, it bites you until your scalp bleeds and it is uncomfortable.
They die within 8 hours of being removed from a head of hair – so washing all the linen and all the hats and everything else will not make one bit of a difference.
Lice can’t jump, they need head to head contact to spread.
One treatment is not enough.
Coke – nope nothing happened, it just created a crazy sticky mess.
Listerine – I didn’t try this but the hairdresser almost got a heart attack when I mentioned it because it will dry out the hair.
Conditioner and combing – yes you do get rid of some of the eggs and some of the lice BUT you need to get rid of everything…
Traditional lice treatments from the pharmacy – didn’t work – I think the lice are resistant against it.
Tea tree oil – nothing, nada, no change – I went through about 5 bottles. In the shampoo, conditioner, undiluted on the head. Didn’t work
Gel, hair spray etc – it is said to keep the lice away – didn’t work in our case.
So what did work in the end? Well I’m not quite certain what finally killed all of it but here is what I’ve used that seemed to make a difference. The biggest difference may be that she didn’t go to school for 2 weeks and there was not chance for re-investation.
Coconut oil – it has to be on the scalp for at least 10 hours because lice can keep their breath for 8 hours. However the coconut oil clogs their breathing system and they die. The other positive is that it is the most wonderful hair mask.
Lice Bomb – very pricey, I could only get it on the internet at http://www.faithfultonature.com
Time to comb and comb and comb and comb and comb. I finally managed to get the lice terminator comb from England – it is a bit different in design from the ones you get in South Africa and is more effective. To get through Zoe’s hair once took me about 3 hours at a time.
And the thing that I found to be most useful and I know it sounds terrible is Doom / Baygon etc. I would spray some on a brush – brush Zoe’s hair and then comb it with the lice comb. And then wash is properly with normal shampoo. Definitely don’t leave it on with a shower cap over the head. I did take on live one – sprayed it with Doom and watched and timed it until it died – about 30 seconds. My theory was just that we breathe the fumes anyway when we spray a fly or a mosquito and the spray land on our skins anyway so to brush Zoe’s hair and then wash it can’t be harmful.
And then Catjuggles also advised us to use Bergemot essence in our shampoo and conditioner – we’ve been using that for about 5 weeks now and Zoe has been clean for round about 3 weeks. So it may be that there was no re-infestation due to the Bergemot essence. One warning – it makes your hair grow like crazy and not just the hair on your head 😉
There are salons around that treat kids with lice. They use a vacuum cleaner type machine and then also comb out the hair. Prices start at R1,250 and then rise depending on length and thickness of hair – so you can just imagine what I would pay for Zoe’s hair.
The biggest problem is that the other parents in the school need to treat their kids as well – I can do what I want and spend as much money as I want but to win this war you have to be consistent and not treat the child’s hair only once. It takes time, it takes effort and it takes money. But please spare a thought for your fellow mums if you make the decision not to treat your child AND send her to school … This is the one problem where I really envy moms with boys – you can just shave their hair and it will go away.
And on that icky note – have a wonderful day!