Lice. Ew.

I seem to be on an insect-related writing spree. First mosquitoes, now lice, and I have a special treat coming up for you, a nearly complete post about giant water beetles!

Of course, this is all really my love of bug-eating bats shining through. After my last bat-related post, Marilyn, sent me a story about Mexican Free-tailed Bats carrying bombs into Japanese cities during WWII. It makes perfect sense. They can carry weight, they fly at night, they hide in dark, obscure corners, and then… boom. A dentist came up with the idea and sent a letter to the White House. Can you imagine? Dear Mr. President…

I’m getting off track. The insect of the day is lice! They’re transferred from head to head contact and there’s an estimated 6-12 million infestations every year mostly in children between the ages of 3 and 12. Children are most commonly treated with Rid or Nix. These shampoos include insecticides that kill the bugs and their eggs. Because the lice are becoming resistant to these treatments, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending each infested child be treated with the insecticide three times.

Of course these shampoos contain toxic chemicals that kill the bugs and are absorbed through the skin. At high doses they can cause short-term side effects like nausea and vomiting and long-term side effects like hormone disruption and cancer.

So, what to do…

  • Depending on where you live, you can hire someone to come take care of it for you. She uses non-toxic products and sells them online too.
  • Of course there’s manual removal with a lice comb and my favorite hair blog had a few other suggestions. Be sure to read through the comments. One person recommends tea tree oil and another recommends rinsing with Listerine.
  • One friend sent a link to this product: Has anyone tried it?
  • This Wall Street Journal article suggests rubbing Cetaphil skin lotion into the hair and letting it dry in an effort to suffocate the bugs before washing them out.

I have not yet experienced the joy of a lice infestation as a parent. I hear that lice is less common in children with African American, tightly-coiled hair. I’m hanging on to that hope.

Any of you have any experience to share? Any tricks that work?

7 thoughts on “Lice. Ew.

  1. Barb

    Oh no. Another bug I’m going to have to think about some day. No experience yet, and I hope it stays that way since there doesn’t seem to be an easy answer. Maybe my kids should start shaving their heads when they’re 3. 🙂

  2. Sarah Beckon

    What a cool photo. I’ve not experience with lice and I hope never to have one. But, tell us about that photo.

  3. Katherine Post author

    Thanks Sarah! The photo is of windows on a warehouse/old building in Portland. We were waiting for the trolley and I had a little time to kill.

  4. Laura

    On the lice issue- – the only trick that works is making sure you get every bug and nit (lice eggs–gross) out of the hair. The products we used are at a place called “lice Knowing You” (LOL) in Seattle and it is worth every penny- – especially if you have a sensitive wiggly child. They actually have a salon You can also purchase a natural spray that you can put on kids hair (it’s like a detangler) in the morning and on their backpacks. Unfortunately the idea that African American hair is immune is not true according to Nancy at LKY. You will need to boil your brushes and combs and hair toys or put them in the freezer overnight to kill the lice. Also, if you hear that there is lice at your school or daycare- – you should check your child. You can put olive oil in their hair and run a lice comb through it if you see little dark specs your child may have lice. A visual check of their scalp isn’t good enough. One other little tidbit…Seattle schools are NOT required to send kids home when they have lice. So if it is at your school- – do thorough checks and remind your kids not to share dress up, hats, etc. I know more about this than I ever wanted to….

  5. Katherine Post author

    Good to know Laura!

    Also this from the Facebook Fan Page:
    I have a particularly hysterical brand of hysteria when it comes to lice…I got it as a kid, finding out on Christmas morning. Mom freaked out and sent the rest of us out of town so she could scour the house after shampooing us with ‘Rid’…. She got it in one go, but it was traumatic!
    THEN, Joseph’s preschool had an outbreak the day after the home-birth of our daughter Lila in May…literally made me hysterical. We didn’t have it, but only knew for sure by getting checked at Lice Knowing You, THE best place! LOVE them!…If, and probably when, we actually get it, I’m marching straight back there and I don’t care how much it costs.
    Still itching psychosymaticly (sp?),

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