What I Learned when my Daughter Got Head Lice

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What I Learned when my Daughter Got Head Lice

A few days ago my daughter came home in tears. She said she found a bug in her hair, her head was all itchy and she thought she had head lice. I told her to calm down, gave her a hug, keeping my head a good distance away, and then started to dig through her hair. When you’ve never seen what head lice look like first hand it can be hard to identify. She had been itching and had all kinds of dry skin hanging out it there. I knew that lice nits stick to your hair and are hard to get off. That’s why you need a really good lice comb in order to get them out. The best way to know if what you are seeing is in fact lice is to blow on it. Does it move around? That’s probably just dry skin. But if you find some small oval eggs stuck to the hair that you have to use your fingernail to pull off, you most likely have a case of head lice. I had my daughter wash and blow dry her hair so I could see better what I was looking at. When I checked, the worst was realized. I found nits.

Does your head itch yet? Mine too. Lets move on.

Help From an Amazing Friend

What happened next still makes me want to shout praises to Heaven. I knew that my friend Angela who owns the blog FrugalLivingNW.com had a nightmarish experience with head lice in her family. She and her seven children got head lice just two days before she was leaving to visit Africa. That’s eight out of the nine heads that reside in her house! They hired someone and spent hours cleaning their heads to get rid of the lice. I knew that they had gotten rid of it in time to have a lovely lice free trip just two days later. If anyone knew about getting rid of lice fast, it had to be Angela. So I sent her a message asking for some advice.

What happened next was incredible. Angela told me and my daughter to come on over to her house where she would help us get rid of the head lice. Wait. What? You want to invite one, maybe two (I hadn’t been checked for lice yet) parasite stricken people into your home at a moments notice? Most people wouldn’t touch you with a ten foot pole if you simply said the words head lice. I am a stubborn person who doesn’t like to accept help but I was desperate. I had no idea what I was up against and I had heard horror stories that I wasn’t interested in repeating. So I took her up on the offer.

A half hour later we were on Angela’s doorstep. She invited us in to her busy home. Kids were doing homework, she was making dinner, and kids were preparing to head off to swim team. She plopped my daughter down on a stool and dug through her hair to confirm that what I had found were nits. They were. She proceeded to show me exactly what to do to get rid of the lice.

Have I mentioned that she is amazing?

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What We Did to Get Rid of Lice

1. Slather Her Head with Oil

The first thing Angela did was spread towels on the floor and drape them around my daughter’s shoulders because things were about to get messy. She then dumped oil all over my daughter’s head. I found a squirt bottle from the dollar store to work really well. I’ve heard people say they used olive oil, coconut oil, and even mayonnaise for this. We used vegetable oil because it is cheap and we like smelling like french fries (kidding). The purpose of the oil is two fold. One, the bugs hate it because it suffocates them. Two, it greases up the hair making the experience of running the lice comb through it slightly less painful. If there are a lot of bugs in your hair you might see them coming up out of the hair trying to escape the oil. Try not to gag.

2. Got a Good Lice Comb

I’ve heard people say that the nit comb didn’t work for them. This nit comb did a great job and got all of the nits out of my daughter’s hair. I’m not sure if there are good and bad combs but I have a feeling that there are. I honestly don’t know how you could survive a lice outbreak without one. But you have to know that it isn’t going to get all the nits after one pass through the hair.You have to brush in different directions until you don’t see any more come out.

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This is the Nit comb on amazon we used and it worked great. Even though Angela let me use her comb, I bought one to have in my house. If I find lice, I don’t want to wait for a comb. I want to get straight to work.

3. Combed Her Hair Until We Stopped Finding Nits

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Pick a section of the hair and dig in. Find a way to methodically go through the entire scalp. You can’t just pass through each spot once and expect to get them all. Angela taught us that you comb through each spot in four directions. Between each pass through take the comb and wipe both sides by grabbing it between a paper towel and wiping all of the oil, nits, & bugs off. Examine the paper towel to see how much you got out. It helps to get a fresh paper towel periodically. Make sure to squish any moving bugs (ew). We spent two hours getting every nit and bug we could find. They don’t really like to move around so you will find patches of hair with much more bugs and nits than others. When you find any nits or bugs, continue to comb that spot in all directions until your comb has come out clean repeatedly. Really dig in close to the scalp to make sure you get them all.

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4. Sleep With Your Head Covered in Oil

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After checking my head for lice and finding none (Hallelujah) Angela sent us home with shower caps. Yes she even gave us a supply of shower caps. She’s that amazing. Our instructions were to cover our heads with oil to suffocate the lice. The shower caps are simply to keep the oil from getting everywhere. You can find a 30-pack of shower caps on amazon for less than $2 here (price subject to change).  If you cover your pillow with one or two towels this will also help keep the oil that seeps out of your cap off of your pillow. Our entire family did this the first night just to be uber safe. We didn’t find any nits on anyone else in our family but we wanted to eradicate any bugs and be confident we didn’t have it. You could do this while awake too, but it’s a pain, especially for kids and much easier just to sleep this way. Just make sure the oil stays on for at least 8 hours. That is how long it takes to make sure you suffocate all of the bugs.

5. Wash the Oil Out with Liquid Dish Soap and Shampoo

This is another tip that Angela taught us. When you have about a cup of oil in your hair, regular shampoo is just not going to cut it. Dish soap was designed to get out massive amounts of grease so start by washing it out with dish soap. It’s easier to put your head over the sink or tub in a way that keeps the oil from dripping down your body causing for more clean up. After getting the worst of the oil out we then moved onto shampoo and conditioner. Dish soap wasn’t really designed to make hair smooth and supple so some good shampoo and conditioner helps.

6. Repeat Every Night for a Week

How to get rid of head lice fast! What I learned when my daughter got lice. How we got rid of lice and nits quickly with oil and a lice comb.
How to get rid of head lice fast! What I learned when my daughter got lice. How we got rid of lice and nits quickly.

Luckily my daughter was the only one in our family that had lice. After sleeping in oil the rest of us called it good. My daughter will repeat the oiling, combing, and sleeping in oil for a week. On the second night of doing this we only found one nit. The likelyhood of us catching lice from her at this point almost zero.

7. What About Washing All of the Clothes?

We learned that lice can’t live more than 24 hours off of your head. Common sense says to wash pillows, and any items that come in close contact to your head such as a special blanket or stuffed animal and maybe sheets. A hot wash and the dryer will get them. There is no need for special detergent. Lice don’t jump, however, so washing a toy or stuffed animal that was never played with is probably unnecessary. We have kept our main focus on getting rid of the nits each night and sleeping in oil that will kill any live lice that may have hatched from a missed nit. They are, after all, called head lice and not stuffed animal lice or blanket lice.

8. Relax. Its Going to Be Okay

I used to be so paranoid about someone in our family getting lice. Now that we’ve had it I realize that if you know what to do to get rid of it, it’s not that big of an ordeal. Just get the nits out and sleep in oil. That’s really all we’ve done. It’s no vacation but we can deal with it. The lice aren’t causing any life threatening diseases, they are just gross. We’ll be okay.

Disclaimer: I don’t claim to be an expert. This all comes from my experience and what worked for us. Situations and results may be different for others.

Visit Brittany @ Paper Trail Design’s profile on Pinterest.

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  2. Oh my gosh. Thank you so much for sharing this. My two year old has head lice from daycare. While I’m told that this is a “light case” since it was caught so early on, I have been so imensly stressed and worried. How would I ever get it out of my own hair if I were to get it? I’ve been using a lice spray along with tea tree oil shampoo and tea tree oil itself on her. I will be trying your method if this doesn’t work soon enough. The rememdy I’m using came from a friend who’s daughter had lice three times in one year. It is so miserable and horrible when you haven’t dealt with it before and don’t understand it! Thanks again! And yes, I’m itchy just from thinking about it. Yuck!

    • Oh Amy I’m so sorry! It’s so miserable trying to figure it all out! I couldn’t believe how easy it was once I learned about oil and the lice brush! I hope it all goes smoothly for you!

  3. If you have a daughter, chances are you’ll come across head lice at least once while they’re school age. I have 4 children, two with hair touching their waistline. I’ve done quite a bit of research regarding head lice. This removal method is SPOT ON! It is exactly what the professional lice removal company Lice Doctors in Columbus OH would charge someone to do. The oil, and combing, is the safest and most effective way to rid your home from the little pests. THANK YOU for sharing!!

  4. My problem is this, I am currently living in Africa and have no access to a washer or dryer. I can hand wash and soak the clothes in boiling water but i cannot dry them its not super hot here right now is there a problem with just letting them hang on the line an extra day??

    • Awe man Tawnya I’m sorry. I would think that the boiling water would be enough to kill any bugs and eggs. But the good thing is that the most important thing is to get the bugs and especially the nits out of your hair so they can’t continue multiplying. They thrive on your head because of your body heat. Clothes and bedding are somewhat important but not a breeding ground like your head.

  5. I have used this remedy for years and it works, I have passed this information on to other parents. I use olive oil and soak the hair, and comb, 6 hours later I wash it out and reapply. I repeat this procedure the next day and wash out. All bedding, stuffed animals and pillows are washed and dried. This is a non toxic way to kill head lice.

  6. Oh thank you so much!!! We live in crazy South Carolina in weather that flips from hot to freezing cold from day to day sometimes! And this is the best treatment we have ever tried!!! In SC lice run rampant in the schools and they seem to do nothing about it! 😡 But i love this method and it is a great one to get rid of head lice!!! My 7 year old came home with lice one day and was about to cry!!!!! I told her dont worry mommy will fix it and i used this method and she was lice free in 2 days! I of course treated her head 10 days later again to make sure there was no lice later. Thanks so much for putting this remedy on Pintrest.
    Have a wonderful winter. ☺

    • Thanks Cheryl! It’s so nice to hear that it works for others. I 100% believe in this method after my experience but it’s so good to see others have success with it too! I hope you stay lice free from here on out!

    • I am in South Carolina as well and my daughter just came home with lice yesterday!!! I was freaking out. This is definitly helpful.. we did an over the counter treatment and i am just so scared we will get them back. Thank you for this post!!

      • You’re welcome Courtney! If you work hard at getting all of those nits out your chances are best of being rid of them. Good luck! I hope they don’t come back for you!

  7. Thx so much. I have been doing this every night and nit picking for 5 days now. Heads been clean. How do u know it’s ok to stop worrying about them coming back? I’m pretty sure we killed the baby lice from our 3rd hatch!!

    • That’s how I felt with my daughter. My friend was told by the lady she hired that she needed to do it for a week to be safe but I skipped a day or two because we had gone so many days without finding anything. I think if I were you I’d take a break for one or two nights and then do it one last time just to be sure.

      • Thx so much!! I am dreading her going back to school after our winter break here in MN. I just added tea tree oil diluted spray w/water as an added precaution.
        I want to do weekly checkups as well. Never thought we’d be going thru this!!

  8. Wow!! Thanks for this post!! I was mortified when I found them in my daughters hair!! I did the lice treatment! Then added coconut oil to her hair!! And used the cheap comb that came with the kit!! We are running to get a better on and some of the things you talked about hair caps etc!!! So glad I ran upon your post!! We will be lice free in no time!!!

  9. What are the 4 ways of combing the hair? My daughter has lice it’s going on a week. I’ve been finding specks of brown and black they don’t pop I don’t see any nits. I’ve been using tea tree oil daily with combing. I haven’t drenched her hair in oil though! I will be trying this next!

    • The four ways of combing are more or less up,down,left, and right. For example I would tip her head back and brush down like normal (always scraping as close to the scalp as possible without it being painful), then tip her head forward and brush from bottom to top, then from left to right and right to left. This way you have a higher chance of getting all the nits and not leaving any behind. I hope that you get it taken card of soon! It can be such a pain!

  10. My daughter has had them repeatedly since January. There is absolutely nothing in her bedroom. I have even used the script Sklice.. Still have them back. This is a nightmare! Does this method really work?

    • I think the biggest key is to be meticulous about getting the nits out. If you do that well, this method is golden. But it is possible to get them again if she keeps getting them from friends or classmates.

  11. I am currently dealing with my first case of lice on my daughters thick curly hair. We’ve only done the oil once but I’ve been combing her hair everyday. I bought a coconut oil based shampoo and added tea tree and lavender oils and mixed it up. Lice also hate rosemary, so I bought some of that shampoo and added more oils to that as well, lol. (I think I will always add oils to our shampoo from now on as a preventative measure.) But after we wash her hair, we comb it and pick out any we see, blow dry it, and then hot iron it. I’m careful not to burn her scalp, but I don’t think the lice will survive that kind of heat and if they do, they aren’t happy. I’m crossing my fingers that this works!