It’s stressful and upsetting to find out that your child has head lice, but there are a few steps you can take right away that are safe for your child and will give you some peace of mind.
The first thing you’ll need to do is kill the bugs on your child’s head. All or almost all of the lice will be on your child’s head. They are not all around your house, scurrying everywhere. That’s not how head lice operate. They only survive on the head and that’s where they’ll be.
Many people react to the news of a lice infestation by running to the drug store and buying one of the common over-the-counter pesticide lice treatments. These pesticides are really strong, and will need to be applied directly onto the skin. As the scalp is very absorbent, the pesticides soak into the skin and have been shown to be unhealthy for children.
An all natural head lice shampoo is the healthy, safe alternative to chemical lice treatments. An effective lice shampoo will kill lice on contact, within a few seconds, once you work it in thoroughly. Enzyme-based lice shampoo is the most effective head lice treatment. Lice cannot become resistant to these enzymes that kill them by making them molt prematurely. Lice have built resistance to pesticide-based lice treatments, rendering these less effective. If you can’t find a natural product in your area or within the first 24 hours, you still don’t need to turn to the strong pesticide lice treatments.
Use an olive oil treatment for the first day. Saturate your child’s head with olive oil––it doesn’t have to be EVOO––but it has to be a lot of oil, worked all the way in. It’s a little messy, but it’s actually a good conditioner for the hair and it’s safe. Olive oil has to be left on the hair for eight hours. It will suffocate the head lice, but they can hold their breath for up to eight hours. Apply olive oil, twist hair up into a bun and use a plastic cap if necessary to capture drippings. It’s okay to sleep with the olive oil on the head, but keep in mind that a plastic cap might not be a good idea for a small child.
Once you’ve used an all natural head lice shampoo or the olive oil lice treatment to kill the bugs, you are going to need to work on removing the lice eggs, or nits, from the hair. You’ll need a fine-toothed metal comb. This process can take several days. There are tutorial videos, like this one, http://www.happyheadsproducts.com/tutorial.html, available online to show you how to “nitpick” properly.
In the first 24 hours, there are a few things you’ll want to do to your house. You don’t need to go crazy and scrub every inch of your home. Start with beds and brushes. Strip the infested child’s bed and wash all bedding in hot water and dry on high heat. Collect all the hairbrushes in the house in case of usage by multiple family members. Boil a pot of water, take it off the heat and soak the brushes for ten minutes. This will kill any left behind bugs.
Wash any clothing your child has worn in the last 48 hours in hot water and dry on high heat.
Your best cleaning tool is your vacuum cleaner. Vacuum the carpeting, bedroom, around the bed, the bed and other furniture where your child may have rested his or her head. Vacuum well and do the car seats too. Bedding, brushes, clothing, vacuuming.
Retreat your child with natural lice shampoo every 2 to 3 days for two weeks, to get ahead of the lice life cycle. Continue combing out eggs; any eggs you see today will be gone within two weeks. They’ll either be hatched or removed as long as you are using an effective natural lice shampoo and you are working on removing the eggs. Treat all family members and caretakers who have been exposed to the infested child, complete the two-week maintenance schedule faithfully and use preventative head lice products whenever lice is a risk, to rid your family of head lice once and for all!