Head Lice Strikes: Here’s a 24 hour action plan for regaining sanity

The school nurse called. The news is not joyful… your child has head lice. Panic is setting in. Here is my “24 hour action plan” for regaining sanity:

Ok. Take a deep breath. No one is in great danger, and there are a lot worse things out there than head lice. Head lice is mostly just really gross and a big nuisance. Try to remind yourself of this to keep calm, and then follow these steps back to L.B.H.L (Life Before Head Lice):

Action Step #1: Remove live bugs. Don’t even bother cleaning one thing in your home before this step. Lice are living on your child’s head… and they’re not crawling around your house. So, it is important to get a hold of a natural lice product like Happyheads Bye-Bye Lice Shampoo and use it on everyone in the household. If you can’t get Happyheads in the first 24 hours because you have to order it online, than I recommend using olive oil. It’s inexpensive and safe for your kids.

A note about over-the-counter lice products such as Nix and Rid:
These products might sound like a good idea. Your pediatrician might tell you to use them (mine did). They are strong and you want strong… but they are also dangerous, and lice have built up a resistance to them, so they may not work anyway. They have been linked to cancer in children, autism, seizures and terrible allergic reactions, especially for kids with asthma. Here are some links to look over as you decide how to treat your child:

How to use olive oil to kill head lice:
Saturate the head (down to the scalp) with olive oil (it does not have to be EVOO). For long hair, make a bun and apply a shower cap. Leave olive oil in for 8 hours to suffocate the lice (they can hold their breath for a long time). Please be careful of using a plastic shower cap if your child is sleeping—that may not be safe. Do use a towel on the pillow case. After 8 hours, rinse oil with a baby shampoo, or dishwashing soap like Dawn. Blow dry hair.

Action Step #2: Start combing out the nits (eggs). Make sure you use a long-toothed metal nit comb. If you have one of those tiny plastic nit combs, throw it away because it is worthless. Comb until you don’t see any more eggs and then take a break. Here is a quick combing tutorial for removing lice and eggs:

Action Step #3: Change the bedding of the infected family members. Wash in hot water and dry on high heat. Do this once—and after the first day, only put the bedding in the dryer on a hot setting for 30 minutes (you do not need to wash). Also, wash and dry stuffed animals that live in the bed (or put in plastic bags sealed for 2 weeks).

Action Step #4: Wash all clothes worn by infected family member in the last 48 hours in hot water and hot dryer.

Action Step #5: Collect all the brushes and combs around the house. Boil a big pot of water and then take it off the heat and soak hair brushes and combs for 10 minutes.

Action Step #6: Vacuum all carpeting and upholstered furniture. No need to send to the cleaners or throw away pillows, etc. Just sweep:) Also vacuum car seats.

The next day: The follow up to the first 24 hours is to continue to comb out eggs. This process can take up to 10 days, but little by little, they will all be removed. It is also very important to re-treat with the natural product every 2-3 days for 2 full weeks. If you miss any eggs, they will hatch, but the shampoo will kill the little bugs before they are old enough to reproduce, thus ending the cycle.

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