Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A natural approach to lice removal

This was the post I hoped to never have to write.  I've had super thick and long hair almost my entire life, and lice has been at the top of my list as one of my worst fears ever since I was old enough to hear about it. I thankfully managed to go 31 years without any more than the sympathy itching I always get when I hear of someone else with lice.  But you can imagine my utter horror to find it on one of my girls now that I live in a house with 4 girls!  Add to that the fact that we have a ridiculous amount of stuffed animals and baby dolls and I won't even mention the state my house was in the day I found it.  And company was coming to stay with us in two days.  And the thought of putting chemicals on my sweet girls' heads just made me sick to my stomach.  To say that I felt incredibly overwhelmed was a huge understatement!

As soon as I found a patch of nits in my daughter's hair, I immediately reached for the coconut oil.  My husband teases that I use coconut oil for everything, but in this case I was super glad I used it!  I had remembered reading somewhere that coconut oil smothers lice and I immediately covered each of my girls' hair and myself as well.  I called Mark to go buy us a special comb and then we set to work throwing things in plastic trash bags and in the washer and dryer.  After leaving the coconut oil in our hair for several hours, I combed everyone's hair.  Thankfully, I never saw lice in anyone else's hair so I think we got to it fast enough so that it did not spread.  I did find 2 actual bugs in my one daughter's hair, and I cannot tell you how glad I was that I had used the coconut oil so that they were dead rather than running away from me!!!!  A month and a half later with no signs of a re-infestation, I finally feel safe and confident enough to say the natural approach worked.

I did a bit of research that first night to see what I needed to do to keep them away.  THIS article helped me the most.
Here is what I learned:

1.  Coconut oil really does work!  But you still have to comb out the nits.
2.  Rinsing hair with apple cider vinegar before shampoo helps remove the glue holding the nits so they come out easily.
3.  High heat kills both lice and nits.  Just about everything in my house went through our dryer.  And we dried all my girls' hair with the hair dryer for the first three weeks just to be on the safe side. 
4.  Neem oil and tea tree oil also kill lice.  So the 2nd day I was paranoid enough to do another coconut oil treatment and I added both essential oils to the coconut oil. 
5.  Here are two natural products that are good for killing lice.  I didn't have time to get them and managed fine without them, but I thought they sounded good enough to mention, especially if you have a worse infestation than we suffered: Theraneem Organix Shampoo an Quit Nits Complete Head Lice Kit (a homeopathic and essential oil nit removal kit)
6.  I washed and dried all the sheets and blankets 3 days in a row, then did it every other day for a week just to be on the safe side.
7.  We bagged up each and every stuffed animal and baby doll with hair for 4 weeks.  (My house stayed a lot neater during that time!)
8.  We did the oil treatment and washed their hair and combed it 3 days in a row and then every other day for a week. (Did I mention that I was really stressed and paranoid?)  Thankfully, we never saw anything after the first day, but all the extra work might be the reason it didn't come back.