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Lice!!!

Vot123Vot123 Posts: 277Registered User Junior Member
edited December 2012 in Parent Cafe
I did a search of CC for this but came up empty so now I invoke the help of the group mind.

Our family managed somehow, through preschool, kindergarten, and 12 years of public education to avoid these nasty little buggers. Now a bunch of D's friends at her dorm have acquired them through one of them who picked them up at the preschool she volunteers at.

We are lice neophytes. D herself doesn't have them (her head was checked) possibly due to her tough schedule and heavy reading load which required some catching up this week; this has limited her contact with friends. But D is very germophobic, not to mention bugophobic and although her friends (who have apparently dealt with this before) seem to be taking it in stride, D is freaking out. One of the girls is D's suitemate but they all have their own rooms so hopefully that should help.

What can D do to avoid getting bugged? And what if the worst happens and she does? I've heard getting completely rid of them is a long haul and I'm not looking forward to D's possibly bringing home little visitors when she comes back for Fall Break.
Post edited by Vot123 on
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Replies to: Lice!!!

  • MSNDISMSNDIS Posts: 216Registered User Junior Member
    I haven't had to deal with lice since my kids were in early elementary school but the key to not getting them is to avoid coming into contact with anything that could have one of them on it--blankets, pillows, coats, any other clothing, hats, hair ties/clips, combs, etc. For example, make sure your daughter doesn't hang her towel or jacket on a hook next to the towel or jacket of the gal who has lice (that gal should keep all of her things in her room for now).

    I've heard they don't like heat so have your daughter dry her hair each day (not sure if that is true or not but I never got lice even though one of my daughters did).

    The gal with the lice in the suite needs to make sure she gets rid of the lice and nits on her head and that she washes all her bedding and hopefully the mattress is already covered in plastic. Anything that a bug could get on that can't be easily checked (for my kids it was stuffed animals) should go in plastic bags for two weeks. Any lice on them will die.

    I would also make sure everything is vacuumed well - carpets and fabric covered furniture.

    My information is over a decade old though so Google to get more recent advice.
  • Parent46Parent46 Posts: 165Registered User Junior Member
    Supposedly certain scents are a turnoff, so have your daughter try washing her hair with coconut shampoo. Tea tree oil is also supposed to ward them off. Some even say Head & Shoulders has something that deters them.

    If someone does get them, the best thing to do to get rid of them is to slather their hair in a thick gloppy conditioner and comb them out with a fine tooth comb. Then rinse the hair with Listerine. You can also try sleeping with conditioner in your hair and wrapping plastic around the hair, supposedly that smothers them.
  • CIEE83CIEE83 Posts: 247Registered User Junior Member
    Doctor here. Lots of evidence says that lice are transmitted by head-to-head contact and pretty much nothing else. I might not share brushes or hats, though I suspect that's based more on superstition than anything else. Your D should not hug people with lice. They don't fly, they don't jump, and they are so specifically adapted to climbing on human hair that it is rare for Caucasian lice to infest African hair, and I imagine vice versa. They do not move well except on human hair. One study examined bedding of 20 people with untreated lice and found one immature bug on one pillowcase (the babies are less nimble and it probably fell off). Since lice are completely dependent on humans for survival and would have trouble moving toward one if they're not already on a head, it makes no sense for them to jump ship in hopes of finding someone better. No need to vacuum obsessively or launder everything in sight. There are no known louse repellants. Also -- people are often misdiagnosed with lice -- if only nits (the eggs) were seen and no bugs, there may not be lice at all, since some kinds of dandruff can be mistaken for nits. Feel free to PM me if you have questions.
  • alooknacalooknac Posts: 294Registered User Junior Member
    I have more recent experience with lice. Although everybody freaks out, it actually takes pretty direct contact to pick up lice. They don't jump or even walk. Their feet are uniquely designed to grab onto hair.

    So, usually they are spread by children sitting close together with their hair touching, or sleeping in the same bed, possibly using the same hairbrush in quick succession, etc.

    They ARE hard to get rid of and personally I do not recommend any home remedies. Go right for the lice shampoo as awful as it is and follow the directions exactly. It kills active lice but not the eggs so it has to be repeated to kill newly hatched lice.

    Your daughter will be fine as long as she keeps a normal distance from her suitemate. Even if she gets lice and comes home, they are not going to take over your house. They really don't live long off a host and they cling pretty securely to the host. Although I guarantee that just talking about lice will get your head to itching!

    There are two more tolerable alternatives to commercial lice shampoo if you happen to live near Canada or know someone traveling in England. I was able to try out both of these with good results. From England: Hedrin lotion, a very slippery silicone type oil which smothers the lice. From Canada: RESULTZ® which sort of dissolves the shell of the lice. The home remedies which purport to smother lice just don't do it completely, they are tough little buggers. It will just extend the timeline.
  • alooknacalooknac Posts: 294Registered User Junior Member
    Although I agree that people often mistake normal hair debris for nits (lice eggs), we had the opposite problem. At that time I had no experience with lice. My D had a really itchy head and TWO health professionals--a pediatrician and a nurse--both declared she did not have lice. But a few days later I actually found a louse in her hair and thus began my education.
  • CIEE83CIEE83 Posts: 247Registered User Junior Member
    The best way to screen for lice is actually with a fine-tooth comb (i.e., a lice comb). This will find evidence of infestation even if it can't be seen with the naked eye. And as for treatment, a non-pesticide treatment available in the US uses cetaphil lotion. The method is described on a site called "nuvo for headlice" (the person who developed the method originally did not disclose that he was using a widely- available lotion and tried to sell it at a profit, I believe). And btw nits can easily be identified it the comb is shaken out/ cleaned over a white paper towel. Any dandruff fades into the background, while nits, looking like a bud on a stalk, appear light brown.
  • alooknacalooknac Posts: 294Registered User Junior Member
    Interesting, my daughter's nits were all white. I know lice themselves can be different colors. I tried the Cetaphil method and personally I would sooner use the lice shampoo. Cetaphil reeks and is very hard to get into the hair and even harder to get out. I am not one to use chemicals lightly. I loved the Hedrin, wish it were available in the U.S.

    I checked my D's hair regularly for probably 2 years after her repeat infestations. I used the pointy end of a rat tail comb to section the hair and carefully examine the hair and scalp. We sat outside in the sun for good visibility.

    Nits are stuck to the hair shaft and you can't scrape them off. Their distance from the scalp is an approximation of how old they are. I forget the exact measure, but I think once they are about an inch away from the root you can assume they are dead or already hatched. That is why schools no longer have a no-nit policy. The old nits will be there till they grow out.

    You can have as few as 1 or 2 lice on the head but you will get many nits. I only ever found one live louse even though I checked often. They move really quick.

    After three bouts of lice (and an elementary classmate/friend with serious lice infestation and poor family support) I told my D if she got them again she would have to get her hair cut short (much less chance of getting lice and easier to deal with if you do). I told her what to avoid. Finally, no more lice and she often requested that I check her scalp.
  • alooknacalooknac Posts: 294Registered User Junior Member
    We found a fine tooth comb impossible to use in my D's thick wavy hair. It is indeed one option for discovery and even cure if you do it faithfully.
  • college_querycollege_query Posts: 2,393Registered User Senior Member
    My now 21 yr old D came home with lice in 3rd grade. It took a while to get rid of them, but no one else in the family got them from her. I do recall my head itching just knowing about them though!
  • hanaviolethanaviolet Posts: 325Registered User Member
    I'm just wondering, if you shave the entire head, would that be the end of them?
  • gsmommagsmomma Posts: 599Registered User Member
    We had to deal with this a few times when my girls were much younger. A good resource is headlice.org
    I would recommend getting their comb, since the tines are round, and it does not hurt as much to comb the hair. Also, if the hair is long, shampoo with conditioner to make the combing easier. I never did like any of the shampoos or treatments. I recall spending many hours patiently combing through my girls hair until I manually removed each and evey nit.

    The girls with the lice should wash their bedding and clothes and dry on high heat to kill any that may have crawled off.
  • CIEE83CIEE83 Posts: 247Registered User Junior Member
    The nits look white or gray in the hair, but are easily visible on a white background. My 2 D's brought home lice from summer camp years ago, and I spent an hour or 2 daily combing D2's thick wavy hair for a couple of weeks - just had to wet it and brush it first, sometimes used conditioner. The shampoo was only partially effective. I will add that in general pediatricians do not want to deal with lice and may know little about them -- my D was once sent home from preschool with a type of dandruff that slid along the hair shaft but was not glued there like nits -- my uncle, a pediatrician with decades of experience, firmly told me that if it slid along the hair shaft, it was nits. I wound up treating my D who had no bugs but continued to fail "nit tests" until I took her to my pediatrician (who had initially refused to see her) and insisted that they use a black light to look for nits ( the nits will fluoresce). Of course she didn't have any.
  • maidenMommaidenMom Posts: 853Registered User Member
    keep hair in a pony tail if it's long - maybe even a bun.
  • CIEE83CIEE83 Posts: 247Registered User Junior Member
    Agree about headlice.org, tho their comb-only approach is a bit extreme. Agree that they do have the best comb. For anyone going through this: The Louse is in the House - P. J. O'Rourke - The Atlantic A great article that is both informative and hilarious, tho the cultural references are now a bit dated. Again, I would wash the sheets the first day but do no other special laundering or cleaning because of the low likelihood of finding anything viable off the head. Treating and combing are far more effective. Ponytails and short hair haven't been shown to be useful in prevention. Some time take a look at the way elementary school girls interact with each other -- those heads are together quite often when they play (and lice are more common in girls).
  • eastcoascrazyeastcoascrazy Posts: 1,775Registered User Senior Member
    A couple of summers ago 22 of us spent a week in a lake house for a family reunion. One child arrived with lice, which we didn't discover until midway through the week. We bought out the local supply of RID and held a spa night, everyone's heads were checked by an aunt who had experience with lice when her child was young. We all had been in close contact with one another all week. Towels, bathing suits, shared brushes, kids sprawled all over each other, blankets dragged from beds to be used as forts.... Three people ended up with lice. The original carrier, her little sister and her mom. They had slept together and had been in very close contact.

    The rest of us ALL used RID during our spa night. We washed and dried (on hottest settings) every towel, sheet, pillowcase, blanket and item of clothing that we could, and bagged the blankets that couldn't be washed. We vaccumed the carpeting and the upholstery.

    We all immediately retreated with RID when we came home and left our luggage in the garage until everything could be washed and dried.

    Nobody else got lice.

    Based on a few anecdotes from family and friends, I wouldn't treat a case of lice with anything gentle, herbal, or home remedy-ish. They don't seem to spread as easily as some people fear, but they can be very, very difficult to get rid of for particular people. Don't skip the second treatment.
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