In January, our family had experienced an infestation of head lice. We are not sure where it came from. My daughter was scratching her head for about two weeks and some white stuff was coming out from her hair, and I was totally sure it was dandruff. One day though my mom-in-law decided to check if there is something more serious – and lo and behold, two fat bugs fell into the bathtub while grandma was combing my daughter’s hair. It was so gross, this is the first time I have seen head lice in my life. When I told my parents about it, my dad said the last time he even heard about head lice was in hunger stricken Soviet Union where he was a child in the 1960s. After talking to people though, I found out that head lice is a really annoying problem here in Canada – but no one talks about it much.
I guess kids spread it in school – but then I have the thickest and the longest hair in my family so I wondered if I had brought it from a plane or a hotel on a recent trip to a tropical country. We will never find out, but here is what we did to get rid of it in about four days:
1. Get a nit comb from a local pharmacy. If you are not sure where it is, just ask the pharmacist. We got one at a local Wal-Mart for about $8. Use it every day to comb out any nits, nymphs and the big bugs. The comb works like magic! Just stand above the bath tab and let the lice fall into it. To check if the stuff that is falling out is a nit, try breaking it with a back of your fingernail – it will make a popping sound.
2. If your kids are not against cutting their hair short, do it. This will speed up the process of getting rid of these nasty creatures. You do not have to shave heads though! I cut my hair short because it was very hard using the comb on thick hair, and grandma cut the kids hairs because they could not be patient while me combing out their long hair.
3. Get a bottle of neem oil from a health food store or an Indian store. The health food store neem oil might be more expensive. I had my bottle of neem oil from the summer – I bought it at an Indian grocery store to use as a natural pesticide for our arrow-wood tree whose leaves were being destroyed by some disgusting bugs. I think it cost about $3. Basically, the function of neem oil is to mimic insect hormones which send “mixed messages” to the head lice and as a result they cannot eat, breed and reproduce (unhatched eggs stop developing as well). Also, many chemical head lice treatments on the market lead to the development of resistance in future generations, but neem oil does not.
4. Make a solution of 2 parts olive oil to 1 part of neem oil in a dish and put it all over the child’s hair. The smell will be strong but it is tolerable. I used about 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon neem oil – but this was on short hair. Cover the head with a shower cap and let it stay for about an hour. At first, my daughter objected to wearing a shower cap but I went to a dollar store and got a package of shower caps in different colors. She was very excited about wearing a pink one!!! Wash the hair later with a hand washing liquid soap to break through the neem oil and the olive oil.
5. Use the nit comb and the oil solution on every member of the family (even if they are not scratching yet) because the head lice spread from person to person if in close contact.
6. Wash all bedding every day on a sterile cycle. This takes time and effort but will help to get rid of the insects a lot faster. Also, put ALL the stuffed toys your child plays with in plastic bags, close them tightly and hide away for about 2-3 days. This will make sure the head lice will die because they cannot live without food (i.e. – our blood). Do not forget to wash jackets and hats and clothes as well.
7. Vacuum everyday and also keep the kids home from school until you cannot find any lice and their eggs on the nit comb or in the bathtub where they are supposed to fall while you comb.
8.While doing research on this subject, I found that if you use a conditioner after you shampoo your hair, you are less likely to catch any lice because the conditioner will make the hair slick and the insects will not be able to hold on to your hair with ease.
For our family, the above approach got rid of all the lice and their eggs in about 4 days. The neem oil solution works wonders – I only had to apply it about three times to my two kids and myself. However, do not forget to use your comb for a couple of weeks more to make sure no lice are left in your hair, once every three days or something.
What do you use to get rid of head lice and have you ever used neem oil to get rid of it?