Friday, June 1, 2012

Adventures in Nit Picking

Photo Credit:

Wow - what a whirlwind it's been the past few weeks! Last Tuesday, when prepping the chickadees for school, I saw that my oldest daughter was madly scratching her head. Just the night before, her friend's dad told us their daughter had gotten lice. So, with an instant dread, I took a peek in her hair and lo and behold - LICE! Lots of them! The photo above looks very similar to what she had a few days after I found them in her hair. They must have crawled down the hair on her back to dine on her blood buffet.

Instantly I knew my day was going to be taking a whole new direction. No going to work, no school for the infested (which ended up being all of us except the little chicken hawk) and a lot of washing and combing. And I've been washing, spraying and combing ever since! We're going on ten days and all is looking well, but I've been hyper-vigilante up to now. I don't want the girls missing any more school and I don't want any more time away from work; not to mention having those disgusting creepy crawly critters taking over our scalps!

In case you're interested in the various natural/chemical treatments I've tried, I will give you a recap. The first day, I went and bought a box of RID, but I didn't want to use it on my oldest daughter if I didn't have to. My husband used it that first night. I eventually used it on my oldest daughter with the thick, long hair two days after naturally treating; this was only after the after school program site coordinator found a live louse in her hair on day 3 of infestation, her first day back at school. She had been checked for nits that morning in the nurse's office and they found nothing. I had really worked hard at combing those suckers out and trust me, they were comprehensive in their search!

Aside from that, I bought some natural products at Target and the Nit Nix lice comb purchased from our preschool ($20) helped in my lice massacre. Dr. Bronner's Organic Lavender Castile Magic Soap to use as a lice shampoo as well as a repellent spray for after I've put the girls' hair up. (I bought a travel spray bottle, poured a little in, added a little olive oil, water and a few drops of tea tree oil.) I wasn't following any particular set of recipes/guidelines, just using as much information I learned in my online research and what I had available.
Dr. Bronner's Organic Lavender Castile Magic Soap for homemade lice shampoo.

Add Dawn Dish Detergent to Magic Soap for lice shampoo.
I discovered that if I mixed my Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap with a little Dawn Pure Essentials Hypoallergenic dish detergent, it lathered up better and likely helped loosen the nits from the hair. After washing their hair rigorously with my homemade lice shampoo, I saturated their hair with Mane 'n Tail horse conditioner and left it in the hair. It helped make combing their hair with the lice comb easier as it slid right through the thick hair.
Leave Mane 'n Tail Conditioner in the hair
I'll spare you the gruesome details about all the nit picking, but suffice it to say that it was a disgusting, time-consuming chore! I kept a white washcloth on the counter in front of me to keep swiping the comb on and then a small cup of water/bleach to soak the comb in between each girl's treatment. The only other thing that would have made it more helpful is a headlamp to shine on their heads and a magnifying glass to see better. Also, it would have been nice to have some disposable gloves to wear on my hands.

Some other tactics I've used on them are to blow dry their hair on super high heat each time and once I even curled each strand of their hair on the highest setting to scald those little beasts to death. Warning: all of these tricks are very time consuming and may be a little bit of extreme overkill.  But also very therapeutic for the anxious mind, nonetheless.

After being aggressive in my lice hunt the first five days, I've started to ease up a bit, but I still plan on combing every day and washing our hair with my homemade lice shampoo every few days for up to 21 days. But until school is over for the year, I'm putting the girls' hair up high and tight every single day. Then spraying it with my homemade lavender lice repellant. I've eased up on the obsessive laundering too after reading that lice don't typically fall off your head onto your bedding, clothes, towels, etc. and survive to reattach itself to your hair later on. So far, so good.

My head has felt extremely itchy since I found lice in my daughters' hair. I found a few in there, but it is very psychosomatic. I never feel completely clean. I've tried all sorts of concoctions on my hair. The homemade lice shampoo from above, a Cetaphil treatment I read about online, RID and lots and lots of combing.

Cetaphil Soap as a natural treatment for lice.

Each time I comb, it seems as if I might have found a nit, but I'm not completely sure because it might be lint, a glob of conditioner or dandruff. So I go into super vigilante mode. It's NUTS! It is so much harder to comb out my own hair and check for nits because I can't see the back of my head. Last night, the hubs kindly helped me out with the nit picking and that was a relief.

I am praying we are on the home stretch in this lice battle. There is only a few weeks left of school and the combing should continue pretty much daily for those weeks to avoid any more nit hatching. In the mean time, anyone want to bring their child over to play?


  1. Eww. Now my head is itchy, just from reading about it

  2. This is like my worst nightmare. Honestly I heard that as a mom this is a drama that stays with you. Good luck. I hope the worst is behind you.

    Stopping by from SITS

  3. Thanks Lee Lee and Heather! It is just awful and I'm hoping I've seen the worst of it. It's a blessing that the school year is ending in a few weeks.

    I look forward to visiting your blogs now!