Picture it. You are snuggling on the couch before bedtime and your little one tells you his or her head itches. So as any good mom would, you give a look just to make sure all is well. And low and behold you see these nasty little lice setting up residence in your child’s beautiful hair!
The first time this happened I, of course, panicked. That made my little one cry and feel she was somehow at fault. She felt terrible. Unfortunately, we have now been visited by the lice fairy multiple times, and I have become a pro at getting rid of the nasties swiftly!
Here are a few tips from a seasoned mama to help make this process easier for both you and your little one!
As hard as it may be, don’t freak out! Kids get lice! It’s not the end of the world, nor is it anyone’s fault! Panicking or getting frustrated makes your child feel like somehow they have done something wrong. Take a deep breath, give them a kiss and get ready. Enlist the help of your spouse and older siblings to make it easier and less time consuming.
Stock Up On Supplies
Your closest drug store will have everything you need. Get a good lice shampoo and comb kit. If you are unsure, ask your pharmacist for a recommendation. I personally like the metal combs. They don’t break the hair and are easier on your child’s scalp. Buy enough shampoo for two treatments on everyone in your household (as a preventative) because you will need to re-treat in 10 days to prevent re-infestation.
Time to Treat
You will need to treat your child’s hair immediately. Because this takes a while, get a phone, tablet or something to keep your little one entertained while you work. Lather your child’s dry hair with the lice shampoo from root to end and set a timer for 10 minutes. Keep them in the bathroom during this time so you can work.
Tic Toc, Tackle That Laundry
While you are on the clock, strip the beds of all stuffed animals and pillows and throw them in the dryer for 30-40 minutes on high to kill anything that may be residing. Put all sheets and blankets in the wash on hot, then dry on high as well! I recommend doing this to any bed your child may have slept in or spent time in. Laundry is the thing most of us hate the most, so just take a deep breath and put on some music and dance while you work.
Rinse and Get Combing
Your 10 minutes are up. Time to put the little one in the tub/shower to rinse their hair. It is very slick and in my opinion hard to wash out so be thorough, or your child’s hair will have a film left on it. Once the hair is rinsed well, I recommend using a conditioner to de-tangle the strands for combing. This will save you a lot of tears!
It is a good idea to dry the hair with a hair dryer for two reasons: the added heat in my opinion will kill anything left and it makes the hair much easier to separate and comb. Section the hair and start from the bottom section, making sure you have really good lighting. Comb through the small sections from the scalp down, getting all lice and nits out. The nits are super tiny and are glued to the strand of hair. They may need to be pulled off by hand.
Remember when I told you to have patience? This is where your little one is likely fed up with the process, is tired and ready to be done with the whole thing. Make it a game, count the lice, make jokes and just try to roll with it. Keep combing until you have successfully gone through all the sections and removed the lice and nits.
Let Your Vacuum Do the Dirty Work
Vacuum all the rugs and use your attachment to vacuum the couch cushions and any other upholstered surfaces. You can also take this time to place throw pillows and any blankets on the couch into the dryer for 30-40 minutes on high just like you did before. For an added bonus, throw in a few dryer sheets to freshen them up and your couch will be extra snuggly and smell good when you are all done.
Don’t Forget Yourself
Now that everyone has been treated and all cushions, blankets and stuffies were dried to kill any remaining nasties, it’s time to treat yourself. If you have long hair, enlist your spouse or significant other to comb out your locks. Then, break out a bottle of wine and relax for a bit.
Notification and Prevention
Now that the hard part is over, make sure to contact your child’s care provider or school to let them know that they had lice and were treated at home. Most day care facilities and public schools will allow your child to attend so long as they have been treated and do not have live lice. But you also want to ensure that they take the needed steps to disinfect the classroom and any upholstered or carpeted surfaces to prevent re-infestation.
A good rule of thumb is to keep girls hair braided, or pulled back in a ponytail while at school or day care and use a lice repellent shampoo to further reduce the risk of future infestation.