Treating for Lice
August 29, 2013 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Daycare texted that son has nits. He was itching his head so much she took him to the doc office, and he most definitely tested positive. Best and fastest treatment possible, especially for a kid incredibly sensory defensive about his head?

Kid Zizzle really hates to have his head touched. Simple brushing with no snarls and pulling has him crying and writhing. Hair cuts have him screaming that scissors are for paper, not hair, and he doesn't want to cut hair, only paper --- and this is the kid friendly hair cut place with movies and all you can eat lollipops and a prize at the end. And regular hair washing? You'd think we were performing surgery in days before anesthetics.

We will be taking the precautionary approach and treating the entire family.

So, 1. Best and quickest treatments?
2. There is a lice removal salon not exactly close but not exactly far. It seems it'd cost us $150-$200 for all of us. Would it be worth it?
3. What do we need to with things like bedding, clothes, etc.?
posted by zizzle to Health & Fitness (34 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Please look into using petroleum jelly instead of lice shampoo, especially if you are pregnant. And honestly in your case I might just wrestle him to the ground and shave his head.
posted by bq at 11:43 AM on August 29, 2013 [8 favorites]

I'd shave his head. He might hate it, but it is the fastest and easiest and safest (for you) option.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:43 AM on August 29, 2013 [8 favorites]

Definitely the quickest is to give his head a #1 shave. It might be a terrible few minutes but it's way, way less time/trauma than the shampooing and combing, etc.

We dealt with this last year in Family BlahLaLa and here's what we did: Boy and Dad got #1 shaves, end of story. I did do the shampoo and combing routine, but it's because I'm too vain for a #1 shave.

All bedding and towels and pillows were washed in hot water and dried at full temp in the dryer. All the soft items in Kid's room -- stuffed animals and the like -- were bagged for two weeks in hefty-type bags. Any random clothing lying around - like jackets, scarves, etc at the front door -- were assumed to be infected, and thus washed. I'm pretty sure I even included the dishtowels in the kitchen.

But that's all it took. One big effort, and they were gone and haven't returned.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:44 AM on August 29, 2013 [7 favorites]

Shave his head. I tried the shampoo, but what worked best was dousing my head in coconut oil every night before bed. And I washed and bagged everything. I washed my kids' heads but, at this time of year, would have shaved them instead.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 11:53 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I doused my daughter's hair in heavy conditioner, combed them out, then washed with dish detergent, and they never came back.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:02 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

A compromise on the "shave his head" idea might make him more willing to deal with someone messing with his hair.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:10 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

When lice entered my life, I had long hair. After a few days of combing and checking and such, I cut it off. It was so much easier.

Wash sheets and towels and pillowcases in hot water.
posted by zippy at 12:14 PM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Bonus points for him if his father or another male in the household is willing to shave in solidarity. Maybe bonus points for dad too - makes the whole ordeal go by faster.
posted by theweasel at 12:17 PM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

Shaved head.

Let him get some tattoo-type transfers for it.

It'll be fine.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:22 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are totally efficient non-poisonous products now, which remove the lice and eggs in one or two hours. With two long-haired daughters, shaving has never been an option (though I dreamt of it). It was hell back then, but now it is actually quite uncomplicated. (goes into bathroom...) This is it it doesn't seem to be available in the US, but that is what the internet is for. I'm certain that when the EU permits a product, it is sound, and Hedrin is more efficient than the usual chemical products.

Maybe the shipping will take too long here and now (but order some anyways).
Obviously, you need to wash his bed-clothes, hats and brushes and combs. Otherwise, what you need to know is that lice can only survive six hours outside of a human. So you don't have to disinfect the whole house, or wash all the clean clothes. You do need to go through his hair again after 4 days, when the eggs are hatched.

Once, when I had some of my girls' friends with us in the summerhouse and their hair was a vibrant zoo, I used Frontline, the pet-remedy, which is unsuitable for humans. It's really efficient, and once in a life-time can't do that much harm. The parents didn't complain, but they did learn to keep their kids lice-free when I was in the vicinity (I actually set up a poster in the school with a picture of my kennel-size Frontline bottle, so they'd know).

With lice, you need a zero tolerance policy. Particularly, you need to be tough at home, and tough with other parents. A bi-annual de-lousing day can eliminate them entirely, if everyone participates. And this is where the Frontline threat comes in.
posted by mumimor at 12:35 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lice will drive you crazy - be prepared for a few weeks of crazy. Everytime anyone itches you'll wonder if they're back.

I can't imagine a salon would be much help as most of the real action has to take place at home with continual inspection of basically every surface they could hide in. If kid zizzle doesn't want to go for the shaved head route, he needs to know that you (or someone with really good eyesight) will need to comb through his hair with a very fine tooth comb many times and pick those damn nits out.

We were told that poisonous products don't really do that much more than just slathering goopy liquids on the hair (hello, mayonnaise) and sleeping with a shower cap on (to keep the goopy liquids in place), and then wash, comb, repeat. This suffocates the little bastards, but you gotta keep doing it because there are might be all these unhatched ones waiting their turn.
posted by jasper411 at 12:51 PM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am so sorry to hear this is happening to you.

Short hair helps a lot.

The "special hair products" that the pros use are, by and large, olive oil and scents. They suffocate the living critters, so then you only need to find and remove eggs or hatchlings from eggs that were laid before you killed all the adults.

If the kid will go for short hair, DO IT. You still should check for a while after not finding any active nits or eggs, and short hair will make this less miserable for all involved.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:53 PM on August 29, 2013

Lots of salons will drive you off with pitchforks and torches if they hear you need a haircut for lice. OTOH, if you know a hairdresser, they might do a house call out of pity. (Bribe them with whiskey and cash; never speak of it again.)
posted by wenestvedt at 12:55 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: FYI. It's a lice removal salon. Not a hair salon.

Shaving is not likely to happen --- we are moving into cold weather, and given how hard the hair cut adjustment was for him, I don't think shaving is a good idea......
posted by zizzle at 1:00 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Obviously you know your kid, but I remember going through the lice removal process as a kid and even with no sensory defensiveness I was so DONE with people messing with my hair. It sounds like the whole thing is going to be really traumatic for him, but at least with the shaving the trauma is going to be done with quickly, you're not going to be constantly re-traumatizing him with the repeat treating and combing. As for the shaving and cold weather, I buzzed my hair all off in July and it's grown back like crazy, if you do it now he'll have hair back before you know it.
posted by crankylex at 1:11 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had to do research for this last summer and this method was the best thing I found: According to this study, it's more effective than pesticide type treatments.

If you don't want to shave it (and it only has to be 1/4" or less) then a helmet head is the way to go!
posted by dawkins_7 at 1:14 PM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Dry hot air kills them, as this NPR story describes. The company mentioned is here.
posted by Sophont at 1:15 PM on August 29, 2013

My boys had it a few weeks ago, and I shaved them. Gone in an instant. And one of mine HATES having his head shaved. I generally have to take them to get scissor cuts, but obviously going to a salon for this was out of the question. (And with three kids, economically unfeasible to have the problem fixed professionally.)

Now me, on the other hand...ugh. I'm not really ready to shave my hair, but I've been sleeping with olive oil or coconut oil on my head (and a satin shower cap over that), and then blow drying my hair in the morning. I think I got all the little buggers...
posted by pyjammy at 1:22 PM on August 29, 2013

Oh, and I meant to say that I got my clipper-hating son to agree to it by telling him it would get rid of the bugs on his head. You'd think maybe 5 year old boys would love bugs on their head, but not so much.
posted by pyjammy at 1:23 PM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

No personal experience with this, but there is a prescription drug, Sklice, for lice now. Its active ingredient is ivermectin, which has a long history of use in humans against other parasites.
posted by lakeroon at 2:14 PM on August 29, 2013

If a haircut was hard, imaging an hour+ of hair combing and nit picking. A five minute #1 clipper session might be less traumatic. Maybe you can let him pick out a new winter hat or a new bike helmet? Bribery might be the answer (and a candy bar / lollipop during the actual buzz).
posted by PorcineWithMe at 2:15 PM on August 29, 2013

Three of the four members of my family had lice over one Christmas. Two of us had almost waist length hair. We called "Lice Schmice," which provided in home service for nit-picking. She poured about a coffee cup full of dollar store conditioner into the hair, and then used the steel comb with extremely close set teeth. She literally combed each one of us for ninety minutes. She used a magnifying light, and went section by section, from top to bottom. The teeth of the comb have to scrape the egg from the hair follicle.
She came back a week later for a repeat session.

We cleaned everything in our house that had contact with our heads-- pillows, bed coverings, stuffed animals, couch & chairs, rugs. We carried the mattresses out in the sun for a day. It was a week of intense, furious activity.

I have two TL;DRs-- do not use any type of poison. It's not necessary, and all the poisons have neurological effects.

Also, short hair or shaved head would be infinitely easier.
posted by ohshenandoah at 2:29 PM on August 29, 2013

The LouseBuster system is basically a commercial strength hair dryer, operated by a trained technician. It's quick (30 minutes), as effective or more effective than shampoos and chemical treatments, and very kid friendly. You may be able to find a franchised LouseBuster operation near you. Some even visit schools and private homes to treat groups of kids, or families.
posted by paulsc at 2:42 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry you're going through this. My friend with a preschooler swears by the lice removers who come to your house. Now granted, I don't think her daughter has a problem with haircuts, but the reason it was worthwhile is that SHE has extremely long thick hair that needed to be combed through. She felt that there was no way she would be able to have removed all the nits by herself. Her daughter's hair was relatively easy. Maybe your son can watch you first? Or perhaps you can hand a newly wrapped toy that he can sit and play with--or an especially yummy snack that is only for special occasions? I'm usually one for bribes but in this case, I'd do it. Otherwise the lice people will tell you what to do with sheets, clothes, stuffed animals. More info here.
posted by biscuits at 2:45 PM on August 29, 2013

It is only August. Kid's hair will grow back in a month or 2.
Everything I've read and heard says that shaving is the way to go.
posted by k8t at 3:48 PM on August 29, 2013

Response by poster: No signs of nits or lice after treatment. Misread text from daycare. She didn't take him to doc, just took him into better light (long day at work, our doc's office has the word "light: in its name, etc.).

Still going to do follow up treatment, but think we're okay.

Kid Zizzle was really great about the combing with dh.
posted by zizzle at 4:21 PM on August 29, 2013

Along the lines of 'prevention is better than cure', put a splash of tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil in a spray bottle and fill with water. Spray Kid Zizzle's hair lightly each morning, not enough to make his hair greasy but enough so that you can smell it. Lice hate the scent so it will stop them moving from another kid to him at daycare.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:26 PM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yep, it's like an hour-plus per person, night after night. Whoever is good at doing the checking needs to be bribed and pampered. Sleeping in hair caps full of olive oil, suuuucks.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:06 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I got a lot out of reading the info on the Minnesota Lice Lady's website.

This is a comb that is better than most. It's noticably different than the ones in the drugstore. My understanding is that it's what those lice-consultants who come to your house would use. I found it effective.

I didn't wind up using this stuff, but it sounded less nasty and more effective than other stuff you'd put on your hair.

Here's a picture of a nit.
posted by spbmp at 8:29 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cetaphil skin cleanser method! Easy (relatively), non-toxic, 95% effective.
posted by Empidonax at 9:50 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

The thing that we have found that works with lice is a (standard domestic) hair dryer treatment for five to ten minutes. But yeah, that's a lot of hair touching.
posted by wilful at 11:24 PM on August 29, 2013

spbmp's comb is just like the ones that professionals use. It's worth spending on.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:11 AM on August 31, 2013

Okay, the hairdryer thing is new. Thanks, paulsc. I know what franchise I'm going to buy into when I retire. :P

No one mentioned the Robicomb for going forward. Its an electric nit comb we use to spot check and clean - works good on my kids' fine and coarse hair (both straight, no curls). After you get him through the initial treatment, having one of these handy for checking up is fun for him to use on you. Glad he got through it with dad. :)
posted by tilde at 8:37 AM on May 2, 2014

A family member tried the cetaphil method and had a total success after a year of fighting it back with combing all the time.
posted by spbmp at 6:42 PM on May 4, 2014

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