If you've just found out your child has head lice, don't panic; they can be effectively treated as long as you know what to do. Killing the adult lice can easily be done using things you have around the home, like mayonnaise, olive oil, or even coconut hair conditioner. But once the adults are eradicated from your child's hair, there are three more things you must do to prevent the critters from coming back. Here are some tips for hair lice home treatment:
Comb Out Nits
Studies have shown that 98% of lice are now resistant to pesticide treatment. And most shampoos don't kill the eggs (nits) at all. That's why it's so important to remove them manually.
The British Medical Journal published a study showing that using a lice comb through wet hair was four times more effective at treating head lice than using pesticide treatments. All you need to do is soak your child's hair in vinegar, taking care to avoid the eyes, then rinse out after several minutes. This will dissolve the glue keeping the nits attached to the hair shaft. From there, use a comb to remove the nits. Be sure to soak the comb in a bleach solution or boil after use. Also, inspect your child's head for nits over the next few days, repeating the same treatment if necessary.
Clean Your Home
Once you've treated your child, it's important to address other areas of your home as well as clean any toys, just in case adult lice are present. You don't have to be concerned about nits around the home because they don't hatch unless they're attached to the hair. The good news is that adults can only live up to 2 days away from its host, so if your child is really young, they won't have to go long without their favorite toys and stuffed animals. Here's what to do:
- Wash everything you suspect could have come in contact with lice like bedding, sheets, clothes, and towels. If you've caught the infestation early enough, and it doesn't appear to be too bad, you can skip the wash cycle and simply place the items in the dryer for 30-40 minutes. You don't need to wash every item of clothing, just the ones your child has worn in the last 2 or 3 days.
- Any toys and stuffed animals that could possibly be affected should be placed in a tightly sealed bag for several days—long enough for any adults to die. As an alternative, you can put those items in a box and store them in the garage or even an extra car if you don't plan on using it for several days.
- Vacuum your entire home thoroughly, including any furniture your little one uses, your car, and the booster seat if your child still has one.
- Clean combs, brushes, and clips with a dilute bleach solution. If this isn't doable, just put the items in a plastic bag and freeze for at least 4 hours.
Educate Your Child
You can't always prevent a head lice infestation. But you can educate your child about ways they can avoid getting them. Be sure they know not to share hats, helmets, brushes, scarves, and anything that comes in contact with their head. This can also include head phones and coats. When they attend sleepovers or go to summer camp, let them know that pillows and blankets are for their use only.