Go Ahead and Scratch Your Head – LICE 101


It’s every mom’s worst, itchy nightmare… LICE! While the word still brings heart palpitations to my heart, I am ready to share our experience with this dreaded pest. Let’s roll the clock back almost a year… yes – a year… to last summer.

Both of my children were itching their heads… something I wouldn’t have thought twice about before. I just figured it was from the chlorine, salt, and sand. Maybe even dry scalp. Nope – it was lice. Lots of them! After carefully looking in my kiddos’ hair underneath a bright light… I saw it. A tiny bug was moving around on the scalp of my daughter. I then looked in my son’s hair… yep – he had it too. I quietly screamed in my head and called my husband. I was inwardly freaking out, while trying to remain calm on the outside.

Before we get started on the treatment, let’s go over some common lice myths:

  • Lice can jump. Nope! They don’t have wings and can’t fly. They spread from direct head-to-head contact.
  • Chlorine can kill lice. Nope again! Lice like clean hair. The nits are sticky and cling onto the hair… even when swimming or bathing. They can hold their breath for 6 hours!
  • Lice can live in your house. Somewhat true… they can live off a human for 48 hours. However, they can’t lay eggs if they aren’t on a human scalp.
  • Every person in the family should be treated. False. Everyone should be checked daily, but only the family members with lice or nits should be treated.

First, let me tell you what NOT to do when you find lice…

  • Do NOT go to the drug store and by over-the-counter chemical washes. They don’t work well. Lice have become immune to them. Plus, the little comb they give you in the box doesn’t work. You can try a prescription wash from the doctor. It’s called Sklice.
  • Do NOT burn all the linens. Just wash them on HOT water and dry them on the highest setting. The heat kills the bugs.
  • Do NOT bag up all the stuffed animals. Instead, vacuum, vacuum, and vacuum again. Lice can’t live off the human head – so there is no need to bag about pillows, stuffed animals, or the dog and put them in the attic.

Now, here’s what you need to do…

  • Let the school know – it could be going around your child’s class.
  • Buy the Nit Free Terminator comb (you can find it on Amazon).
  • Invest in a giant bottle of olive oil and Dawn dish soap.
  • Buy cheap pillowcases for each bed.
  • Go ahead and buy your favorite alcoholic drink when you get the pillowcases, olive oil, and dish soap.

If this has you already scratching your head, you can always call two different Lice Treatment places in Memphis. They work, but they are costly. You also have to follow up with the combing ritual/procedure after the expensive treatments.

I freaked out when both kids had it, so I called the LiceDoctors. A lovely lady came to our home and checked all of us. Guess what… we ALL had it! She spent 3 hours at our house combing our heads, explained everything to me, and helped me relax. While it was a pretty penny, it was worth every penny. She gave me instructions for a 19 day schedule. We had to soak our hair in olive oil each night, use the Nit Free Terminator comb for 5 minutes per person, sleep in the olive oil (that’s why you need cheap pillowcases), and then wash out the olive oil with Dawn dish soap each morning. The olive oil suffocates the lice and kills them. The oil also helps the comb go through the hair shaft and remove any nits that are attached. It was a process, but it worked.

Days 1-4 – Olive oil treatment every night

Days 7-19 – Olive oil treatment every third night

There are other products on the market that supposedly repel lice… we used them then and still do now. I also spray my kids’ heads with hairspray every morning before school. It sure doesn’t hurt. However, just know that lice like everyone and they are everywhere. If it happens to you, pour a glass of wine and grab your olive oil. Oh, and go ahead and buy the comb now. That way, when or if lice happens to you, you will be ready!

Your turn! What are your experiences and tips with this nasty pest? What worked? What didn’t?

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Alissa, a native Memphian, is a tried and true VOL fan. She graduated from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Currently, she is the Director of Curriculum at a private school in East Memphis. Alissa is mommy to Jack (January 2010) and Julianne (August 2011) and husband to Scott. Alissa lives in Collierville with her family and their lab, Abbie. She is a type-A planner. Organization is a must for her – both in her professional and family life. She hates odd numbers, onions, and people who drive slowly in the left lane. She loves pedicures, Matilda Jane clothes, the beach, and spending time with her family and friends.