I just read the great Lice post in the always great achildgrowsinbrooklyn. I felt I had to tell my story.
My girls started getting lice in kindergarten. Dress up, coats in a pile, sleepovers sharing beds and baths, and the ultimate culprit - Picture Day, all contributed to the problem. Like clockwork, every year in Oct. about a week after Picture Day we would get a visit from our newest pets. I truly believe that they weren't sharing combs, and I do not blame the school at all. The lice were just loosened up and getting around. For the most part it ended in third grade. Girls had shorter hair, and they weren't rolling around and rubbing heads together as much, maybe also they were just growing up and not playing so much dress-up anymore.
I am relatively bug squeamish and I am not at all afraid of head lice. I see them as cunning adversaries. In all of the years that we were plagued, my husband and I never got them and I was so used to them in the end that I would do the lice check on my own bed. The girls were also never reinfested from our house, it always came in direct relation to a playdate with a friend who had them or picture day. They really seem to go from head to head.
The nits are light colored on my ash blond children's hair, near the scalp. The lice stay at the scalp and don't venture far down the strands. I have heard they like secluded places like behind the ears and low at the neck, but ours always brazenly stayed within easy sight right on the top of the head, laughing at me. Full grown, the lice are light brown and flat almond shape, like a flax seed, and they are fast. You will just see them out of the corner of your eye in a lice check and they will be gone, in an instant. I have spent hours chasing one around my darling's scalp, until she developed a relationship, "don't get 'Biggie', he's my friend"?! Lice checks are when I first discovered that I needed bifocals. The "lice call" from school was always the worst. I only had to say "Lice" to my boss and she handed me my car keys and said that she would see me in the morning. Sometimes it was a false alarm, some dandruff or stray glitter glue, which is infuriating. I have to say that if you suspect that your child has lice you need to have full disclosure to family and friends. Do not send them to the party, or the sleepover - you will lose friends and nothing spoils a reputation faster than being lazy with your disclosure. I won't tell you about the time I had the girls' sweet friend sitting on the hard wood floor at 10pm with our carpets rolled up and her head swathed in olive oil and saran wrap because she had such a bad infestation that I could see them from across the room. I was alone and couldn't get to the drug store and her parents weren't answering their phone.
Let me start off by saying that after reading everything written on them and trying every remedy from the hippie dippy to DDT, I now have THE tried and true, easy, surefire solution. This method removes all lice and nits and it is kind of fun to do. You need a really good lice comb. Check out a metal lice comb at www.colonialmedical.com/product.php?productid=18574 (search for "metal lice comb" I'm not too good with my links yet) I haven't seen this one in person, but I think it is the right model. It needs to have round tongs that have no air between them. Do not use the lice combs you get free in the Rid box, they are useless. You need a roll of paper towels and a bottle of Pantene conditioner.
First squeeze a ton of conditioner all over your child's barely damp head. Rub it around so no lice can escape the goo. Then start combing. Make sure that you are combing from the scalp and do it over and over. You will be combing out great gobs of conditioner and wiping on the paper towels. The Pantene is good because it is white and you see everything that is coming off the hair. It also has enough body that no lice can get away. You will see the nits and the occasional louse, you will also see sand, glitter, pieces of old sandwich and stickers (a child's life spread out before you on that paper towel). Keep doing it until you have a full, thorough pass of the head that comes up with nothing. Do it again the next day and if you come up liceless you are home free. It is as easy as that. Last summer on vacation I had 4 children with lice and in a little over an hour they were free and their hair smelled great! Then take all bedding and towels, wash and dry them hot. If you can wash and dry the stuffies that is great, if things can't be washed put them in a sealed garbage bag for two weeks to do the trick.
These are things that I tried; olive oil and baking soda, tea tree oil and tea tree oil shampoo, all of the over the counter treatments, a heavy duty perscription treatment, vigilant lice checks that took HOURS. The Pantene and thorough combing really, really works.
Courage, lice are nothing like bed bugs, they can be dealt with easily enough, or you can call the wonderful Lice Lady.