Super Lice! Stay Calm & Get Combing

lice combs

This post was originally published in August 2015, but the other day, I received an email from a reader that said:

We’ve got lice raging through our school right now, and I remembered you’d posted about it a few years back. I searched for that post and found so much good, common sense, CALMING advice. Just wanted to suggest you repost it – maybe allow people to weigh in again on any new treatment or prevention products that have actually worked for them.

I think that’s a brilliant idea! So here is the post again. And I hope you’ll chime in with anything that has worked for you and your family. New effective combs? New effective shampoos? Other new treatments? Please share!


Have you been reading the crazy headlines about Super Lice? If you’ve missed out, here’s the summary: apparently, head lice in at least 25 states have become resistant to over-the-counter pesticides. Yuck.

But I have to say, I’m reading these reports with a raised eyebrow, because our big run-in with lice was over 6 years ago, and even back then, before “super lice” existed, I had zero luck with chemical responses to the bugs. In fact, if anyone asks me for lice advice, based on my own family’s experience, my response is always:

1) Skip the lice shampoo, it’s not reliable, and it gives false confidence.

2) Get the metal lice combs — the plastic ones don’t do a dang thing.

3) Don’t panic. Focus your energy on physically removing the lice (and the eggs!) from the hair. It takes time, so find time in your day (or evening), or hire a lice helper, or get an older niece or nephew to help.

For those of you in the middle of a lice catastrophe, you’re not alone. No shame, my friends. It can happen to anyone. And it’s totally the worst. Here’s how it went down at our house.

– We were living in New York. We get a note from the elementary school that there is a lice outbreak, and that one of my girls is affected.

– Next, gagging and a complete gross-out ensue on my part. So gross!!!! Then complete and total panic sets in. I envision lice on every fabric surface of my home. On the sofas, on the rugs, on the sheets, on the towels, on the clothes. I continue freaking out. And remember, at the time, I have 5 very young kids. Crawling toddlers, napping babies. Kids everywhere! So therefore, lice everywhere!! (Or at least, that’s what my brain was thinking.)

– So of course, I went out and bought ALL THE CHEMICALS. Every lice shampoo and lice spray I could find. I carefully read all instructions, treated the infected child with lice shampoo, and combed through her hair with the plastic lice combs that come with the lice shampoo. And though I was freaking out, I tried to act like it was no big deal to the kids, because I didn’t want to freak them out too.

– Then I checked all the other kids for lice, sprayed all the sofas with lice spray, and did approximately 1000 loads of laundry. Essentially, if you could put it through the washing machine, it was washed.

– And the whole time the shampooing and the laundry is going, I’m experiencing this continued panic. Are the lice spreading faster than I can spray and shampoo?!! And are the kids getting new lice from the sofa or carpet?!! I had this overwhelming feeling that I would never get rid of all the lice. I couldn’t see an end to this. Plus, I felt so much shame. I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about the lice. The shame was it’s own sort of  trauma.

– After I had completed all the official lice shampoo processes, and washed everything in the house, I began to calm down. We did lice checks on all the kids, we couldn’t find any. Clean bill of health!

– But it turns out, that we didn’t get all the eggs. (I’m telling you, those plastic combs are no good!). In fact, I don’t think I even understood what I was looking for egg-wise. I think I was so grossed out by interacting with the actual bugs, that I let myself trust the shampoo, which was “guaranteed” to get the eggs. Here it was a few weeks later, and now, three of the kids had lice!!!!!

– At this point, it’s taking everything in me not to turn into a total basket case. This time around, I read everything I can about lice online. The most helpful thing I find is a timeline of a the lice life cycle. And knowing the life cycle, it gives me a much better picture of how to battle the lice more effectively. I also learn that much of what I’ve heard about lice is a myth. I learn that lice can’t jump or fly, that lice don’t spread infection, and that lice can only live for a couple of hours if they aren’t on a human. Such a relief! (I don’t have the original link I found 6 years ago, but this video has similar info about the myths and life cycle.)

– For the second round of lice, I go chemical-free. I skip the lice shampoos. I skip the extra laundry. I don’t worry about the couches or the rugs or the comforters or the clothes or the toys. My focus is on physically removing the bugs and the eggs from the hair. Which means, I also have to stop being a wimp about touching the bugs. I also get over my shame, so that I can talk to my friends about it and get advice.

– It’s summer time now, and the kids are out of school. I set up little lice removal station on the kitchen table with a view of the backyard. While the kids play outside and the baby naps, I take one infected child and put her in front of a laptop with a favorite movie. I spray her hair with water, then I use the metal lice combs to go through her hair in very small sections. I have a box of tissues next to me, and a bowl of hot soapy water. Every time I pull the comb through, even if I can’t see an egg or a bug, I wipe down the comb with a clean tissue, then I put the used tissue in the hot soapy water. (Eventually, the soggy, soapy tissues are put in a plastic garbage bag, tied off and sent directly to the outside trashcan.) This whole system takes a couple of hours per kid.

– The next day, I do the exact same thing, in case I missed anything. The good news is it goes faster this time. Maybe an hour per kid. When I finish this second combing session, I’m confident there are no more bugs. And I’m mostly confident there are no more eggs — but the eggs are so much harder to find, that I’m not 100% confident.

– Then, I wait 9 days. If I missed any eggs in the two concentrated combing sessions, they’ll all be hatched by 9 days later, but the new lice won’t be old enough to lay new eggs yet. That window of time is important! I do the lice combing station again. I find one baby lice, and that’s it. I don’t expect to find any eggs, and I’m right. There are none!

– We are officially lice free!!!

Here’s the thing, during that second round of lice, having 3 kids with lice was one million times less stressful than that first time having just one child with lice. The difference was of course the added knowledge. Understanding the egg timeline and the myths, plus understanding the importance of the physical removal (versus shampooing) did the trick.

I like to think that if it ever happens in the future, I’ll be more calm about it. But really, it won’t surprise me if I freak out again. Lice are stressful!

Okay Dear Readers/Lice Experts, what’s your take? Were any of you nodding your heads when I mentioned setting up a lice-removing station? Also, I know there are new lice-killing shampoos that come out all the time. Have you found something that works that maybe I haven’t heard of? And for those of you who have battled lice successfully, what system worked for you? Oh. One last question: in the last few years, I’ve seen shops open up where you can drop off your kids and the shop will physically remove the lice and eggs. Have you ever tried a service like that?

P.S. — Pro-tip: We’ve kept our metal lice combs all this time (see photo at top). You know what else they’re good for? Cleaning velcro! When our kids sneakers or jackets have velcro tabs that get filled with lint or random threads, the metal combs clean them up like new!

102 thoughts on “Super Lice! Stay Calm & Get Combing”

    1. Lindsey Lindstrom

      We’ve been using peppermint essential oil! It has a 90% effectiveness in repelling lice!! We used all the preventative shampoos and sprays before we got lice and none of it really worked :( Id get a bottle of young living peppermint essential oil and give that a shot :)

  1. Lindsey Lindstrom

    I LOVE THIS! So honest and so accurate! My daughter had lice last year and she gave it to ME! I freaked, panicked, absolutely thought it meant death lol! Then I went to an incredible place where these incredible women use a louse buster (basically high heat) to remove the lice. And they guarantee it! Best money ever spent. If we ever get it again, we will go right back to the lice ladies. The worst part of it all is the loads of laundry we have to do and the paranoia! Hopefully we never get it again, but if we do, we will be prepared!

  2. Lice is the worst! If you’re ever in France, Pouxit works well. They have different kinds of it and I agree that the plastic combs are insufficient, but the metal ones are great.
    I engaged a war with lice in my daughter’s really long hair last summer, for the first time, and like you, I kept missing eggs and lice would be back full force; it was so annoying, all the chemicals really damaged my daughter’s hair too.
    I even tried mayonaise (no good) and olive oil (nope).
    Some people say you can spray lavender in the back of your neck and above the ears as a preventive measure.

  3. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

    When my daughter was in 2nd grade five years ago she came home with lice. I had a husband who travelled for work and a toddler. PANIC! I was like you, uneducated about lice and hearing a million different versions of things to do. I got the chemicals (I wish I hadn’t). I got two different lice combs (I now know the metal one IS the way to go). I set up a lice removal station. A spotlight on her head. Hours and hours of lice removal commenced. Movies and tv shows kept her relatively happy. My daughter has blonde hair- I could see the bugs but not the eggs. I had the hot soapy bucket of water too. She got lice over and over for a month. I just couldn’t get all of the eggs out. She missed school. She hasn’t had them since. Fast forward just a couple of years and we have TWO places to go in our town to go for lice checks and lice removal. No stigma. You just go. Parents can go get checked. Schools and clubs can hire them to check kids. It is almost like a hair salon. Entertainment for the kids, cute decor. How I wished they had been in existence when I needed the help!

  4. Also, I caught lice at a cinema at age 38 for the first time. It took me 2 months to get rid of all the eggs.
    Now, everytime I go to the movies, I bring an extra sweater that I put on the back of the seat where I rest my head, and then I throw the sweater in the wash as I get home. I scratch for a couple of hours afterwards, but that’s only psychological…!

    1. I had no idea! I now may never be able to sit through a movie without worrying about this. I’ve been fortunate to never have had to deal with lice with my kids or myself. I didn’t realize how common it appears it is. Great advice (which I hope I never have to use!).

  5. Stephanie Precourt

    It’s been years since lice came to our house- especially traumatic because we were literally in the ER on Christmas Eve with my son having an anaphylactic reaction to nuts in a Christmas cookie- and there he is in triage when we discovered he also had lice. We were discharged with a prescription for an Epi pen and how to treat lice. I still check my kids’ heads frequently. We had a station set up, too, with the metal comb and Moroccan oil spray. I boiled the comb after every use (and vacuumed constantly, ran bedding through the hot dryer every morning) and we were good. When the kids went back to school after winter break we found out everyone in class had it over Christmas, too! Happened years ago but I’m still getting over it…


  6. I know this pain all too well. I have a tried and true solution I want to shout out everywhere. Brown Listerine! (so inexpensive) The combo of menthol and eucalyptol kills them on site. I pour it all over and sit in a disposable shower cap for about an hour. They literally fall off your head. You do have to be diligent about picking out eggs and doing the listerine again in a week. Also, a good blowout and flat iron tiny tiny sections of hair will kill the eggs. Set your flat iron on high. I hope this helps someone!

    1. I worked at a medical clinic oversees this summer and the dr there uses the same thing. (Like every other person there has lice.) It has to be the original Listerine. One hour on your head with a shower cap on and then wash out.

  7. I saw this picture on your Instagram feed and had to read the whole article. We just spent two weeks down the lice rabbit hole and I’m scarred for life! Was just working on a blog post about it when I saw yours. It’s clearly topical these days.

  8. We recently came back from an Amsterdam vacation and my 14 year old, my 20 month old and I had lice! I did the chemical shampoos on all 3 but literally sat there for hours using the comb until I felt their heads were clean. My mother helped with mine once. A week later we just ran the comb through, faster than the first time and thank goodness that worked.

  9. Oh my goodness! All three of my girls with long hair got lice this summer! I totally felt like I had no one to talk to about it because I didn’t want them freaking out like I was inside! then on top of it, I thought it too! I wish I had this article to read when I found out about it! I spent so much money on products and sprays and was so discouraged when I kept finding bugs! All of your pointers and tips are so true and so helpful! I hope I never have to deal with that again! Thank you for sharing!

  10. What timing! We are going through it right now. spotted lice on my daughter last night. I actually have a lice pro coming over later to do a second removal of bugs and eggs on her, as I am not confident I got it all last night. Plus, I really want an expert to check the other 3 of us in the house. We plan on going the natural route,using hair conditioner and a metal comb (the terminator brand). I too had little luck with the chemicals when we went through this 7 years ago. It didn’t work and I was in tears for weeks trying to get rid of the bugs over and over on my 5 year old. The other thing that I found helped in killing any missed eggs was using a hot flat iron hair straightener each morning for another week all over the head as close to scalp as you can get safely. It felt like added insurance for any nits I couldn’t see. It is such a drag. I am hoping the rest of us don’t have it. My head itches just thinking about it!!

  11. We had a run-in with lice last summer (my sons brought it home from camp and then I got it from them) on day 2 of our family vacation at the beach. To say I was freaking out was an understatement. We ended up hiring a company called Lice Happens and the “lice lady” came to our beach house and treated all of us. I know there are similar companies all around the country and I just did a Google search and found this one. The website for that company ( has great myth-busting information about lice. Knowing the facts really got me through that experience with a lot less anxiety and stress. I hated having to use those chemical shampoos on my children and it was so nice to know that there are other options. I bought the”treatment” (non-toxic!) from Lice Happens and the metal comb (which I take with me on every vacation!!). Hopefully we won’t ever have lice again but now that I have information and peace of mind it will be a non-issue if we are struck again!

  12. Both of my kids had lice a few years ago within the first few weeks of school starting back up. It was horrible. I ran out and bought the lice remedies at the pharmacy and did all the laundry and vacuumed everywhere. It didn’t work! The kids came back with lice a few days later. We ended up going to a service in our city called Nit Pixies where they go through each child’s hair and removes the lice and eggs. Then I went home and did all the laundry again and vacuumed again. Thankfully that did the trick. It was pricey but I really don’t think I would have gotten rid of them with the help of professionals. It was reassuring they didn’t use chemicals to get rid of them either!

  13. I remember getting lice a couple of times when I was in elementary school. It was awful. Once I had it on Mother’s Day and my poor mom spent the whole day combing. I remember her using a cotton ball soaked in vinegar on each section she combed. No idea if that is actually effective but the whole process for me was just terrible and I had a crick in my neck for a week from bending while my mom combed. I’m itchy just reading about this. Hope I never have to deal with it again!

  14. I don’t have kids, but hooooooo boy I remember dealing with lice in the Philippines. We have very big classes in elementary school (I went to a private Catholic all-girls school)… imagine 48 girls, most of them with long hair. Imagine 10 classrooms per grade (with 1-7 in the same building). Some girls in different grades are sisters or cousins. Many are friends and hang out together at home outside of class. Now imagine 1 lice outbreak. Total disaster! I am very adept at picking out lice and eggs as a result–there were times we just had to do it for each other, if your parents were too busy, or if you didn’t have a nanny (most girls did) to help you out. We had to pick them out by hand and squeeze them dead between your thumbnails. I am hoping if I ever have kids, it won’t be an issue. Like riding a bike, I don’t think I’ll ever forget how to pick lice!

  15. My girls had LONG hair and got lice. When I found an egg on a hair strand, it was actually easier just to snip that one hair strand off their head with scissors instead of trying to pull the sticky egg all the way down the hair shaft.

    As for lice shampoo/chemicals, we ended up using Cetaphil hair gel on their heads. Cover the head with the goopy mess, then blow dry it till it’s dry and hard. This will suffocate the lice. Then wash. This method came from our pediatrician.
    Good luck!

  16. i am physically shaking. all wigged out. sat down to have my break and a salad . . . ahh! you are a hero. your tips are gold.

  17. We have been there too. But at school, most parents don’t care before its too late and it have spread. For a long period, I comed them every day after school! They brought home, every day, some new really big once /-:
    Finally they school made a overall check and then… all the girls with ponytails and all the boys with short haircut. It was and overall problem that everyone was overlooking it!!

  18. Such timing! Our family of 8 just went through this. Total nightmare. All six kids ages 3-14 had it, plus me. My husband was the only one who escaped. We were also moving out of our house that week, so the hours and hours of combing out lice, laundry, and packing made for a near nervous breakdown. I think I was averaging 3 hours of sleep a night! And with no one to talk to because-the Shame! Now, a few weeks later we are in the new house, lice free, and I completely agree with you on the education. Knowledge really is power. For treatment we did a combo of intensive careful combing(which I think really is the key), and also used Vamouse which kills the lice by dehydration and is pesticide free. We also got a prescription from our pediatrician for Sklice which is supposed to treat the “super lice” that are resistant to treatment. I know this was probably overkill, but I didn’t want to chance bringing it to the new house. Great post-I’m sure it will help a lot of panicking parents. The take away from the whole experience for me-Don’t panic! You can do it, and really once you get over how gross combing bugs out of your kids hair is, enjoy the hours you get to spend with them and make it fun. We had movie marathons, great discussions, and blasted our favorite music. They are only tiny bugs after all and we can conquer them!

  19. As my daughter said when we had this come through in first grade- “God didn’t need to invent lice. Just the idea of lice makes our head itch.” And mine is itching now.

  20. Using cheap cooking oil is an awesomely effective way of suffocating both eggs and lice.

    Drench hair in oil and cover with a shower cap for 30mins. The lice can make air bubbles in water but not oil and the egg casing is clogged with oil. Then comb out.

    Sad that this isn’t widely known.

    1. My daughter has had lice twice (shudder), we heat coconut oil a little, smear it on, wrap head in Saran Wrap for 20 minutes, shampoo out then start combing. I comb out every day for a week, then coconut oil again – done and done! No chemicals, no big cost

  21. When I was raising kids, lice was always a problem in the schools. My kids never got them. The only thing we could figure out was that they would blow dry their hair every day.(It was the 70’s) The heat must have killed them (the lice and their eggs). Good luck

  22. We used olive oil: massaged it through my girls hair, put a shower cap on them, and put them to bed. The next morning we combed out the hair with the wire combs. Washed their hair. It was so long ago I can’t remember how many days we waited, but we would oil it again to take care of any lice that may have hatched. The oil suffocates the little buggers. So no chemicals, no lice, and really soft hair.

  23. We had it three years ago , while I was pregnant with my fourth. Total panic and hysteria inssued on my part. 18 loads of laundry, countless bags of unwashables bagged up and thrown away or stored for a month in the garage, bleach washes on every hard surface, lice spray on everything upholstered and three Rid treatments. I shaved my sons head and my daughters sat through lice extractions everyday for a week and then again 2 weeks later. Not to mention that I flat ironed their hair everyday for two weeks just to make sure. New pillows, combs and brushes, and I even washed any clothes that got worn but didn’t get washed because they looked clean enough to wear again. My husband was worried for my sanity, but I was so skeeved out that I couldn’t stop myself. Now three years later I’m pregnant again and the thought of lice gets me itching and a little panicked. This time I think I’d just do the treatments and flat iron and wash their bedding.

  24. Yes, the metal combs are the way to go. I use the terminator. Olive oil, mayo, coconut oil, tea tree oil etc etc don’t work. You really want it to work but it’s useless. Daily combing and a blast with a hot dryer! Know the lice cycle and be on top of it. On a positive note, I started to really enjoy the comb outs with my kids. We had some great conversations.

  25. Such a great topic to cover and really good advice. Just wondering how you handle checking yourself in this scenario. We’ve been through it a couple times now and I can fairly confidently handle the kids, but I’m always at a loss on whether my husband is effectively checking me.

  26. Great post! it’s so frustrating because the chemicals don’t work yet our school system sends out instructions recommending rid and other pesticides. Parents use them and assumed they’re done after using it once!

    My kids were infected and we easily got rid of it with pantene conditioner and the nit free terminator comb. The first comb out takes a long time…took 1-2 hours until no bugs/nits were found. Then, I combed every other day for 2 weeks and I maybe found 1 or 2 additional nits. Aside from washing sheets, I focused on the head, not the house.

    1. Yep I’m with you Sarah, every other day until there is no more evidence, no need to panic and no need to do extra laundry.

  27. I had it when I was a kid. And when I was 19! I was soo embarrassed but I just went to the pharmacy and bought the lice shampoo, used it. My boyfriend at the time combed through my hair with the plastic comb and every time he found a bug he would put it in a plastic sandwich bag. Then I waited the required time and did a second treatment and he combed again and it was gone! I lived in an apartment at the time and couldn’t afford to wash all my stuff in the coin machines so I didn’t but I never had a problem with it returning or passing it along to my roomies.

  28. When my son got lice last year while we were living in Europe, the local pharmacy gave us a product call Nyda. It was amazing. It’s not a chemical or poison to kill the lice but instead is a silicone-based product and the lice slip off your scalp when using the comb. It worked like a charm and they all fell out within minutes.

    I definitely had the heebie-jeebies though through the whole experience. We never had lice before so I had to watch youtube videos to know what I was looking for. Don’t ever do that. So gross!

  29. So agree with many of these. COMB, COMB and COMB again! That’s the only way to get rid of them. I think the media and literature are confusing when it comes to nits and eggs. If you don’t get the eggs off the head you’ll never get rid of the bugs. We have dealt with a lice episode at least once/year for the past 5 school years on at least 1 of my 4 children! I will say that I am less prone to freak out now… unfortunately I think its part of the school year.

    My one side comment is to all parents please don’t allow your son or daughter to have a sleep over if you found lice on their head less than a week before. This has happened to us on 2 occasions and low and behold my daughter(s) end up with lice a week later……

  30. Thank you for this! We’ve battled it twice, both times my daughter had longish hair, and if I wasn’t a trained hairstylist, I wouldn’t have felt as capable to do the tedious sectioning and nitpicking.

    Your process and tips are spot-on. I’d also add that I’d read online about dry heat being effective in killing the crawlers and drying up the eggs.

    So, after nitpicking, out came the hood dryer that I have for an at-home color client. My daughter sat under it for 1/2 twice over two days, just to be sure. (Even better would have been the old-fashioned bonnet type hair dryers, anyone remember those? At 45, I have a couple early 70’s memories of mom’s!)

    Our last battle was almost three years ago, but so fresh in my mind. Good luck to any and all dealing with it. You will prevail!!!

    1. I’m going to try a bonnet hood dryer attachment for $12 from Amazon, plus a magnifying glass with LED light. We are dealing with lice now for the third time in less than a year, and it has cost us $500+ to have it professionally picked out each time. I have no faith in my husband’s ability to comb out my nits, since even with all of our experience with our kids’ multiple infestations, he still can’t competently recognize lice, baby lice, or nits. With all of this effort and such dismal results, I’m wondering how many people just live with chronic, eternal lice?

  31. My daughter was sent home from school with lice last spring the same week I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I took one look at the list of ingredients in the chemical shampoos and decided no way was that stuff coming into my house. I don’t know why I have a tumor, but I’m now very diligent about keeping products with toxins off our bodies. Luckily we have a service in town like a couple of people mentioned where they use a heat treatment to kill the bugs and eggs and then comb them all out for you. Completely non toxic. It took less than an hour while my daughter watched a video. Amazing! I washed all of our bedding and quarantined everything else for a few days in a black plastic garbage bag and I was diligent about checking for any remaining eggs for the 9 day period afterward and that was it. They didn’t come back. I’ve been using an anti-lice spray on her hair occasionally with essential oils in it for prevention. So far, so good!

  32. Ugh! Your experience reminds me of my own 38 years ago. I actually caused our septic to overflow with the insane amount of laundry. And, we had only one child. It was such a demoralizing experience.
    Then the two summers on, our son got lice while visiting his cousins–who were exposed through sharing batting helmets. Or so it was believed, since the entire Little League team had lice. Pathetically, our toddler daughter caught them from her brother.

  33. I have a guaranteed system that will get rid of lice. Simply apply oil (saturate ) to your hair (mineral oil or Olive oil ). for 30 minutes before washing. Do this every seven days three times Oil suffocates them. However, the egg sacs (nits) will not be killed this way ….NO NEED TO SPEND HOURS GETTING OUT NITS…assume they will hatch but those almost-adult lice will suffocate on the next scheduled oiling. Stay away from those harsh chemicals because your skin absorbs it and it’s up to your liver to detoxify it from your body ( particularly harmful for kids under six years of age ). As far as clothing and bedding and stuff toy animals if you can just not go near them for a week all the live lice will die because they need to feed No need to freak out and start washing everything just close the bedroom door and don’t go in there for a week

  34. After 3 kids and 3 rounds of lice….the best remedy AFTER picking out the nits is to dry wet hair with a hot dryer! They don’t like the heat!

  35. question. did your husband freak out at all? i went to through a very similar experience and almost made myself sick with the worry, the obsessive cleaning. my husband in fact had the worst case of lice but he really did not seem fazed. now, i’m a lot more relaxed about it. also, doesn’t matter who you are. everyone gets it at one point.

  36. I agree – chemicals don’t kill the eggs so using metal combs most important part. We are proactive though — no piles of jackets when kids get together and periodically vacuum the upholstery in your car if you carpool.

  37. I caught lice at the very end of the school year when I was in third grade. Right after school ended we went on a two week summer vacation and we were on the go constantly. I didn’t know anything was wrong, other than that my head was itchy, so I didn’t say anything to my parents. (I would suggest that parents teach their kids to report scalp itchiness!) We were all too busy having fun so nobody noticed anything. By the time we got home it was a pretty severe case. My pediatrician gave my mom a recipe for some homemade concoction. The main ingredient was mayonnaise and it did NOT work at all… And my hair was SO greasy for weeks afterwards. The ultimate solution was the daily metal comb routine for several days in a row!

    In this case, I’m glad that I have all boys… If they ever come home with lice I think I would just shave their heads!

  38. We’ve had one run in with lice (knock on wood) and I used a lice shampoo called Resultz. It’s a less harsh version of lice shampoo. As a preventative measure, I always wash the kids hair with tea tree oil shampoo. That stuff is miraculous!
    I’m up here in Canada, where we have this thing called a Robi comb. It zaps live lice as you comb it through hair, making the job a bit easier. I’ve heard a ton of opinions from fellow parents, and the consensus seems to be that lice shampoo is the only way to go in getting rid of the little critters.

  39. OIL!!!! We used both olive and baby oil and soaked the girls hair. I
    French braided it after doing some nitpicking and left for 5 days
    They slept in shower caps and went to school with oily hair
    Worked wonders!! I had 5 children and the laundry and bagging the
    Pillows and linens was the hardest part!

  40. We had a terrible run-in with lice last winter. We were all scratching our heads all night and I even went to the doctor with a rash on my neck (apparently I’m allergic to the lice saliva) and she totally missed it! Then–this is the nastiest part–I figured out what I had when I was scratching my head at work and a louse fell out onto my keyboard! I started Googling and found a local lice-removal expert who combed out all my family members (and later my nanny) with olive oil and lice combs in her home salon. She confirmed chemicals don’t work and advised us on how to get rid of them, and luckily, it was a fairly painless process (aside from the endless laundry). Now I get totally paranoid whenever my scalp itches even a little, though.

  41. It was super ironic for me to read this article today because my sister-in-law who is serving a mission for our church in Washington State today just e-mailed home to tell us that she had gotten lice this week! She apparently has been using this new contraption that is a metal fine tooth comb that also zaps the lice? She says its been working really well! I hope she’s right. I got lice in 5th grade at a YMCA summer day camp that I was going to. My mom used the lice shampoo, washed all the things, and sprayed everything in our house and we thought that I was in the clear. When school started a couple weeks later, we noticed that the lice was gone. We actually switched from the name brand lice shampoo at the drugstore to the generic CVS brand and I remember that being the trick that got my lice to go away! Also, props to my dad who took a week off of work from his fencing business to sit at home and comb bugs out of my hair… And now my head feels itchy.


      1. I love that your dad took time off! That really is the best way to combat it, time and combing through repetitively.

  42. I had the most horrible experience with lice recently, I was 17 and had just started a Rotary Youth exchange to Sweden (I’m from New Zealand). About 3 weeks after moving to Sweden and living with my host family my head started getting itchy. At first I thought it was the cold and that I had a dry scalp as it was the middle of winter, it didn’t get any better though and mortifyingly I had to ask my host mum if she could look through my hair. Yep, you guessed it, I had lice. SOOOO EMBARASSING. She had to comb and wash my hair for me. I can’t think how I possibly got it but thank god it went away quickly. Great start to my exchange!

  43. Mayonnaise usually worked in my house. Once my sister had some super lice that wouldn’t go away and my mum ended up using Vaseline. It worked but she had greasy hair for weeks! Whatever method we were using, wrapping the whole head in saran wrap for a few hours was an important step. I think it helped to suffocate them. And i recall a lot of combing too. I’m about to start work as a school teacher so I’m worried about getting lice at some point!

  44. I had to laugh when I saw the lice post, coming right as school starts. Now that we’ve battled lice and I know how incredibly common they are, I can’t believe I managed to get through nearly 8 years of parenthood without having to deal with it! From what I can tell, the public schools in Berkeley are literally crawling with it. It’s the unfortunate backfiring of having a “no policy on lice” policy.

    All four of us (husband and me included) had it. My then 2nd grader had it the worst. Our pediatrician told us that Nix does work on the local bugs, and I used it once on my older son because of the level of the infestation (and it definitely did work on the live bugs), but in general it just took A LOT of patience and epic levels of combing.

    I have decided that weekly combings will just be a part of our school year or camp routine now – I don’t want to have them sneak up on me like that again. The next time – and I don’t fool myself that there won’t be a next time – I want to catch the little buggers early on. Combing is really the only way to know for sure whether you’ve got it. Visual checks are not reliable to catch the beginning of an infestation, especially if you’ve never had a kid with lice – it’s just really hard to know what you’re looking for, and the infestation can get bad before you realize they have it. Not all kids will itch!

    The most helpful thing I found was to use a small kids’ microscope to look at what I found so that I could tell what I was looking at. It saved me a few times worrying about flecks of sand or dirt that were not nits, and actually a few tiny bugs that were not lice.

    The hardest thing for us is that we had one kid in a public school where they won’t send kids home even if they’re covered in live lice, and another kid in a private preschool with a no-nit policy, who would send home kids if they found one empty egg sack on his head. The discrepancy made me crazy! It seems like there has to be some kind of happy medium between these two policies.

    Other best tools: white vinegar (comb through to help detach eggs from hair strands), Terminator metal lice comb, cheap white conditioner to make combing easier, lots of paper towels to rub comb/conditioner onto, magnifying reading glasses if you’re going to do visual checks (I got ones with built-in LED lights at the drugstore – super-cool!), a few mom friends who will walk you through the process and answer your freaked-out text messages with compassion.

  45. Ten years ago, I loved in Houston with my five children. My youngest was 3 weeks old when my oldest son came home from Cub Scout camp with head lice. (They had hats they shared. Not a good idea for the record.) We were also in the middle of a move to another state and in the process of selling our house. Not a good time to be doing laundry! We drove to the drug store and purchased a chemical kit. Like you said, the plastic comb was useless. I went back to the pharmacy and bought a nice metal comb (I think the brand we have is termi”nit”or). It worked so much better. The chemical shampoo however didn’t work. We tried it again (luckily the baby was bald) and once again I was still pulling live bugs off my children’s heads. It took 8 hours a day to comb through my three daughters’ long hair. I called my pediatrician to ask what to do. She called in a prescription for Lindane. I didn’t question it and used it. Afterward I started to wonder what it was I had put on my children’s (and my!) head. Apparently lindane is banned in most states, and unsafe to use if you are under 100 lbs!! All of my children were under 100 lbs!!! And after all that, it didn’t work! After doing a little research I learned that the southern United States are a great place for a super big because of all of the mosquito spraying. Apparently, during the 60s when we used DDT, there were hardly any cases of head lice. Sounds like a great way to breed a superbug. I called the pediatrician again and she said “Did you try Mayonaise?” Ha! So, I pulled out the best foods, slathered it on my children and covered them in a shower cap and sent them to bed. Our pillow cases were ruined, but in the morning, all of the lice I pulled out of their hair were dead. I repeated a week later. And end of story. We have had a couple of love scares, but I just pull out the comb and give everyone a thorough combing. So learn from my mistakes, and skip the chemicals altogether. I love mayo.

  46. Original formula Listerine (the amber colored one) will kill any live bugs on the head. I had a terrible outbreak and this was the only effective thing for us. Of course I followed up with hours of picking nits out of hair (in the sunshine for my blondies – it’s easier to detect the eggs that way). The best part…it’s cheap. Completely saturate hair and scalp, cover with a shower cap, and leave on the head for about 3 hours (just pop a movie in for the kids while you tear the house apart doing laundry). Wash hair with shampoo only and then get picking! The dead bugs were literally falling off heads with combing. Gross…but awesome!! I followed up with a high heat drying and flat ironing session. the high heat kills any live eggs, although I still went through heads daily for about two weeks. I had the kids do their daily reading while I was picking.

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