It is alarming to most any parent when their child is sent home from school or daycare with a note letting them know another kid their little one may have been playing with has come down with a case of lice. Or perhaps your child has been itching and scratching just a tad too much for comfort. So you peer down at their scalp, brush aside their hair, and there you have it — lice.
The little buggers might jump right off of your child and onto you. They are quicker than is fair and a true pain to get rid of, but it’s hardly impossible.
Table of Contents
What Do Head Lice Look Like?
You might be wondering “what do lice look like to the human eye?” Well, they’re only about the size of a sesame seed. Under a magnifying glass, you would see they have a head and six legs. But without magnification it’s more like a tiny seed.
What Do Nits Look Like?
This is the hard part. What does lice look like in dark hair? Well, they might look like tiny specks of dirt that resemble the coloring of the person’s hair. That’s why they can be so hard to remove. What does head lice look like on the scalp? Again, small specks. They may even be translucent-looking and appear to be nothing more than dandruff. They can range in color from opaque to blondish to brown to black.
Who Gets Lice?
In truth, almost everyone. It’s a common myth that lice only circles around little kids who don’t bathe enough and places where the homeless congregate. This isn’t true at all. In fact, lice don’t really like dirty hair. It’s much easier for them to cling to clean hair that isn’t full of waxy build up. There are six to 12 million infestations of lice every single year in the United States, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seriously, you are not alone.
How to Get Rid of Lice
There are several avenues parents can employ when wanting to get rid of lice and nits. Some are natural and some not-so-much. However, no matter what option is used, parents need to understand that laziness can’t be tolerated where lice is concerned because practically nothing kills nits. They are encased in their own protective shell and virtually nothing breaks through it. Instead, nits must be picked out of the hair. This can be difficult when it comes to light-colored hair, but it’s still possible. It is time consuming and your hands will likely hurt afterward, but there’s no other way around it unless you want to have lice continually hatching on your child’s head and bouncing around your house every day.
To rid your child of lice, the most assured method is mayonnaise. You read that right. Slather it on. Not onto your favorite slice of pumpernickel, but on to your child’s head. Yes, it will take a few washes to get it all out. But hey, we’re dealing with bugs on your child’s head here. Mayo cuts off the lice’s air supply. In short, the oil is so thick in mayo that it suffocates the lice. This means you must buy the full fat variety. No lite mayo for lice. Again, slather it on. Then wrap the hair-covered area of your child’s head — and only that area — in plastic wrap and send them to bed. A towel on their pillow to protect your linens isn’t a bad idea, and yes they will smell like spoiled potato salad in the morning, but it’s worth it.
Great, the lice are dead. You can count on that. Now get to combing through that hair! Piece by piece, in small one-inch sections, part the hair and use a specially made lice comb to pull through the hair and collect nits. Rinse the comb with soapy water after each comb through so you don’t re-contaminate the hair with nits you’ve already pulled off of it. Again, it’s a time-consuming process, but it’s well worth it, and you won’t want to do it again next week because you didn’t do it well enough this week, either.
The thing about lice is that they don’t just live on your child’s head. They lay eggs that could be on every cloth surface in the house where your child has laid his or her head. The thought of it is overwhelming for any parent. Most of us completely dread ever having this encounter. Those who have been through it pray they never will be again.
You’ll need to vacuum a lot during this time. Twice a day may not be enough. In addition, don’t leave the vacuum receptacle or bag full of the day’s collection. Dump it — outside. Believe it or not those lice will find their way out of there. You’ll want to vacuum not only the carpeting and hard flooring surfaces in your home, but also upholstered furniture. All bedding must be laundered, too. Yep, even if they came into your room or a sibling’s room for hugs and kisses at bedtime last night and laid their head down for mere moments, you’re going to want to take all precautions and wash it all. Use the hottest water that the fabric and coloring can tolerate. When drying throw it in the dryer for at least 10 minutes on high heat. That will kill any remaining nits and lice.
Fret not, friend. Lice infestation happens to many of us. It’s not a sign of bad parenting, poor grooming or any other negative label you can think of slapping on yourself. It’s merely a sign that your child has friends. It’s almost as unavoidable as rotavirus and won’t permanently scar your child in any way — though it might give Mom and Dad the willies for a while. When that creepy crawly, something is on me get it off feeling sets in take a deep breath and persevere. The only way out of lice is persistence.