As my daughter scratched her head last night, it occurred to me that it was time to do another lice check. I'm behind in adding part two to this blog, so what better timing?
Once you've established that your child has lice, there are two different approaches. Brace yourself, because each is time consuming, but worth it. I would never put pesticides on my child's head, personally, but I know lots of folks who wouldn't hesitate to do so. Regardless of whether or not you use the chemical shampoos, though, you still have to pick out all the nits.
APPROACH #1 (As outlined by a professional nit picker)
1) OLIVE OIL: The night before you tackle lice, apply 1/4 - 1/2 cup of olive oil to your child's (or your own) head. Massage the oil in well and sleep with the oil in your head. This is super messy (even if you cover your child's head), and I highly recommend spreading old towels on your bedding and removing comforters. If your child has very thick/dry hair, apply 1/4 oil about an hour before bed and then add another 1/4 right before going to sleep. Olive Oil suffocates live lice.
2) WASH: In the morning, wash hair first with dish detergent and then shampoo as many times as it takes to remove all the oil. Dry thoroughly. Comb through hair to remove all knots. (If your child has very curly hair, you will find it easier to straighten his/her hair before beginning the process.)
3) GET COMFORTABLE: Seriously. Set your child up in front of the television or a computer or whatever it takes because you are going to be here a while. NOTE: It's important you do this in a location with good lighting.
4) LIGHTING: Bring a lamp where you can control the direction of the light and aim it right at your child's head, more specifically, at each section you tackle.
5) LINT ROLLER: Place a lint roller by your side with a fresh piece of sticky tape.
6) HEAD PREP: Using multiple metal clips, divide your child's hair into smaller sections and twist them up so that you only work with a small amount at a time.
7) PICK AWAY: Using the back of a fine comb begin taking small, thin sections of your child's hair. Lift each section up, making sure the light is shining directly on the hair. Look carefully for the nits. If you see any or even if you don't, take your nit comb and comb through that tiny section two or three times. Press all the teeth of the comb onto the lint roller tape, so that it makes full contact. Any nits or lice picked up by the comb will stick to the tape. Move onto the next section and repeat. NOTE: Some hair is so thin that you will need to use your finger nails to remove the nits.
8) COUNT: As gross as this sounds, when you are done combing through the entire head (anywhere from three to six hours later), you will need to count the number of live bugs and nits you've found. Write the numbers down.
8) REPEAT: It sucks, I know. But you need to do this process again the next day, and the next and the next. If you find live bugs again the following day, your safest bet is to repeat the olive oil within the next two to three days, too. Checking will get faster, and the number of nits and bugs you find should decrease dramatically. By the end of a few days, you will hopefully be checking, but finding nothing.
9) CHECK FOR TWO WEEKS STRAIGHT: Yes, I said two weeks. This isn't necessarily because you will find more bugs or eggs, but you might have missed one or two that hatches and then lays more eggs. Also it's likely other kids near your kid have lice, too. The last thing you want is a re-infestation.
10) CHECK REGULARLY: Now that you've gotten the hang of it, you might want to make checking part of your routine. It's much easier to deal with an outbreak early in the game than it is to once it's become an infestation. (During the peak of our school's outbreak, I found one live lice on one kid's head and three nits on the other's head.)
1) COPY STEPS 1, 2, 3, & 4 from above.
2) CONDITIONER and TOWELS: Arm yourself with a roll of paper towels and a full container of white colored conditioner.
3) SLATHER: Cover your kid's head with condition. A lot of conditioner.
4) HEAD PREP like step 6 above.
5) BEGIN TO PICK: Using your nit comb, comb through small sections of hair. Wipe conditioner filled combs onto the paper towels. Nits and bugs should come off in the conditioner and will be present on the paper towel. You can throw live bugs directly into a trash can or plastic bag. (They can crawl, but they can't jump or fly.)
6) REPEAT. You simply need to repeat and repeat and repeat this process until you stop finding bugs and nits. (Again this could take hours.)
7) Follow steps 9 & 10 above.
NOTE: Some parents find approach #2 much easier. I have tried both, but I ultimately find approach #1 to be more effective first time round, and I can't help but cringe at the wastefulness of throwing away all those towels.
APPROACH FOR PARENTS:
If you're concerned that you may have contracted lice from your child, your best bet is to practice approach #2 in the shower. Make sure you comb your hair backwards and forwards and from side to side. Spend at least a full ten minutes combing through with gobs of conditioner. If you find anything suspicious, you may want to have a friend or your partner check you or contact a professional nit picker. It's very hard to treat lice on yourself. And the last thing you want to do is re-infest your family.
Lice will turn your family upside down no matter which technique you choose. Between your laundry and your picking, your time will seem to fly by. Be good to yourself. Order pizza for dinner and don't sweat the small stuff. A lot of parents spend more time cleaning their house than they do checking their kids' heads. This is a mistake because the lice would much rather hang out on your head than on your chairs. Definitely do a thorough bagging, washing and vacuuming, but then focus on the hair.
Good luck and happy picking!