Lice Are Not Nice
Kids and lice seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. Lice spread easily among children in schools or childcare centers, especially in winter when everyone is wearing hats and hoods. If your child comes home scratching her head, don’t panic: lice are stressful, but they don’t carry disease and are NOT a sign of poor hygiene.
Lice are developing resistance to many of the chemicals commonly used in lice shampoo, making shampoos less and less effective. Avoid the chemical treadmill for your kids through these basic lice treatment methods, and get rid of the lousy problem without the poisons.
Photo: screenshot from “Lice Are Not Nice” © AIMS Multimedia, courtesy of A/V Geeks.
Lice Removal Toolkit
• Lice comb
• Washer & dryer
• Freezer bags
• A freezer
• Shampoo made with coconut or olive oil
• Plain olive oil
• Blow dryer w/ heat diffuser
• Hair clips (for long hair)
• Magnifying glass
• A bright lamp
• Plastic bags
Step 1: Comb them out. After using a magnifying glass to confirm that lice are in fact making your kid miserable, the first step is to get the lice out of there. Thoroughly wash the hair in warm water, preferably with a shampoo that contains coconut or olive oils, which kill lice without chemicals. Then seat the child in a comfy, well-lit spot with a book or toy and start combing. Use a lice comb approved by the National Pediculosis Association, such as the LiceMeister. The plastic combs that come packaged with lice shampoo are not effective. Use clips to divide the child’s hair into sections to ensure that you comb out the whole head.
Apply a small amount of olive oil to the hair to make combing easier. Use tissues to wipe lice and nits from the comb as you go, putting used tissues in a plastic bag. A magnifying glass will help you tell a glued-on louse egg from a loose flake of dandruff. Once the combing is done, seal and discard the bag and clean the comb in a solution of hot, soapy water with ammonia.
Heat is extremely effective at killing lice. Put it to work for you by blow-drying your child’s hair when the combing and washing is done, though you may want to wait a few days if the child’s scalp is sensitive from too much scratching. After the final wash, place a heat diffuser on the blow dryer (to prevent burns) and carefully dry the entire scalp for about half an hour. This method can kill any eggs, nits or lice that you may have missed.
Step 2: Delouse the house. After all that work, it’s important to ensure that stray lice don’t make it back to the child’s head, so cleaning up potentially lousy areas is critical. However, lice do not wander away from the head, so a whole-house scrub-down is not necessary. Do not spray indoor pesticides to kill lice – they are ineffective and dangerous.
Wash the child’s bedding and clothing – including coats – in very hot water and dry them in a hot dryer. Place items like bike helmets and earphones in a freezer bag overnight in your freezer. Then vacuum the child’s bedroom and any other carpeted areas where they spend a lot of time.
Step 3: Rinse and repeat. Inspect your child’s scalp daily for about a week to catch any remaining lice or eggs. Make sure that you have a good light source and a lice comb in hand for the inspections. Inspect again once a week for a while after that, to be sure there is no re-infestation. You can also continue the regimen of coconut or olive oil-based shampoo and blow-drying throughout the week, just to be extra careful.
Catching a lice problem early is the best way to prevent a major problem. If you hear about a lice outbreak at school, get a good lice comb and start checking weekly. With the right tools and some patience, you can head off lice problems without using chemicals on your little one’s scalp.
Toxic Free News is a publication of
Toxic Free NC
115 South St. Mary's St., Suite D, Raleigh, NC 27603
(919) 833-5333, Toll-free
Mission: Toxic Free NC advocates
for alternatives to toxic pesticides in North Carolina by
empowering people to make sound decisions about their health
Karel, Program Coordinator; Ana Pardo, Communications Coordinator;
Fawn Pattison, Executive Director; Jean Strandberg, Toxic
Free Kids Intern; Princess Jallah, Farm-to-Childcare Intern.
Board of Directors: Colleen
Boudreau, Treasurer; Ghassan Hamra; Laxmi Haynes; Mindy Hiteshue; Cathy
Jones; Omar Laínez; Michelle Nowlin, President-Elect;
Annie O'Leary; Katherine M. Shea, President; Allen Spalt,
Immediate Past President.
Emeritus Board Members: Billie Rogers, Jane Sharp MacRae,
Community Leadership Council: Melissa Bailey, Mary James, Anna Jensen, Silvia Peterson, Juvencio Rocha Peralta.
unsubscribe, or update your subscription information.