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Best Tips for Curing Head Lice

By Melissa Summers

Right after the holiday break notes from both my kid’s classes were sent home explaining there had been a few cases of head lice in each class. According to my daughter 4 kids were sent home from her class and the kindergarten teacher reported 5 kids in my son’s class.

The day after the notes came home I found myself holding court with the kindergarten moms at drop off. I’ve never felt more like the Lice Queen than I did for those 10 minutes as I explained to a scared crowd of mothers how best to check for lice. How to get rid of them. How to make sure they never ever come back.

They were so riveted by my every word I could have told them anything I wanted and they would have believed me. “Okay, this is a little known secret but I’ll share it with all of you. You’re going to want to fill your bathtub each night with mayonnaise and bathe your child in it. Do this every night or it won’t work and actually you’ll end up getting lice and you do not want that to happen.”

A few years ago, my daughter borrowed a hat from her friend and brought head lice into my world. I spent almost 3 weeks battling lice and nits. I used 5 different treatment methods, from chemicals to a vat of mayonnaise. In the end I was deranged, I spent weeks dreaming of lice I washed sheets and vacuumed sofas for 3 weeks straight. I spent 30 minutes five times a day combing through my daughter’s hair looking for nits. It was hellish.

The thing is a note came home a month before I ever realized my daughter might have lice. I know it makes me sound like a neglectful mother but I honestly didn’t know what I was looking for. Reading typical lice websites made me feel overwhelmed and panicy, so much that I thought I’d pay attention to them when we actually had lice.

I looked through her hair after the note came home, didn’t see anything and so, moved on. By the time I really noticed my daughter scratching her head, so much time had passed, I thought she had some sort of rash on her head. Imagine my shock when I saw an actual bug on her head. If your child has lice and you actually see a bug on his head? Congratulations! You are, in a word, ‘Screwed!’ Hooray.

But I’m going to help you avoid this fate, just like I helped the moms at school. But don’t worry I’m not going to lie and tell you to do something absurd. What you need to do is dunk your child’s head in a bucket of ice water whenever they come home from any public place. Joking.

No actually, threaten your child with bodily harm or Ebay auction to be sure they understand the very dire consequences of wearing someone else’s hat. There are so many things to teach little kids, some things slip right past you. Well, I mean ‘you’ if ‘you’ are as dumb as ‘me.’ I never really specifically told my daughter not to share someone’s hat. So she borrowed someone’s hat and that little girl had a stubborn case of head lice herself. A special breed of lice which can hold it’s breath for hours while being coated with chemicals so that they will not die.

The minute you get a note home about a lice outbreak at your daycare, preschool or school, start checking your child’s head. I assumed the school would have caught it, if the lice checkers were looking over her head. But all it takes is one or two nits to hatch and you’ve got an infestation and the school isn’t going to check everyday to make sure that doesn’t happen.

First you have to know what you’re looking for. There is a lot of information about lice on the web and most of it will scare the crap out of you with worst case scenarios. Here is a picture and explanation of what a nit looks like and what a ‘non nit’ looks like. And hey! Check it out a Free Critter Card. Don’t say I never give you anything.

The biggest thing that helped me know the difference between a nit and a piece of dandruff or lint, a nit will not blow around or move with a rub of your finger. They must be pulled down off the hair shaft itself.

The thought of doing a full screening my kid’s heads every day made me want to cry and even after what I went through with my daughter, I still don’t want to sit down and comb through every inch of her head if I have no evidence of an infestation.

Instead I noticed when we were infested, I would find the most nits directly behind the ears and at the base of the skull. The lice want to lay their eggs where it’s most warm, the warmth is what incubates the eggs. So whenever we get a note home, I check behind my kid’s ears and at the base of their skull for two weeks just to be sure. I do it while they brush their teeth at night so it’s no extra chore.

I also taught them to keep their hats in their backpacks and to put their backpack on their coat hook over their coat. This creates an extra barrier between their coat and other kid’s coats. I also used to stick a piece of rosemary from my yard in their bags but I think that’s sort of an old wives’s tale.

One other thing I noticed during our infestation (when I write that, I keep picturing a swarm of lice floating around my house) is that my husband and I never got it. My son got a mild case from his sister but it was gone with one treatment and one comb through. Logan and I lay in bed with our daughter each night reading. We also keep all our combs and brushes in one basket together. My husband has very coarse, curly and short hair so I’m not terribly surprised he didn’t get it. But I am surprised I didn’t get it.

The only thing I can think made a difference is I blow dry my hair every day, so maybe the heat killed any nits before they could hatch? I’m no scientist, just a blogger and the Queen Of Lice (not by heritage, I just voted myself in.)

My Tips:

  • Tell your kids when they share hats with friends a puppy dies. If your child doesn’t love puppies, he’s a robot so you don’t have to worry about lice.
  • Remind them to keep their hats inside their backpacks and their coats under their backpacks.
  • Do ‘quick nit checks’ on your kid’s heads in hot spots (behind the ears and at the base of the skull) when they aren’t infested but may have been exposed.
  • Try blow drying your child’s hair a couple of times a week after a shower or bath instead of letting their hair air dry during prime lice season. Which is now in most parts of the country.

I know I haven’t discussed what you should do if your child actually does get infested. That’s because there are about 2000 sites out there telling you what to do.  You could also just call these nice people or The Lice Beaters (I’m picturing a dominatrix beating the lice on your child’s head…and I sort of thing I want that job) and they’ll do all that for you, but probably without the hysterics. They’re professional.

In closing I’d like to point you to this site because I think it’s great that you can buy sex toys *and* lice products with the same degree of shame and embarrassment. America, you rule!

Best Tips for Curing Head Lice by

Published February 7, 2007. Last updated August 28, 2018.
Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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