Archive for the ‘Lice’ Category

La la la la, lice

Just in case you haven’t heard enough about our Christmas holiday lice outbreak, you can read a the story I wrote about it for the Montreal Gazette here. There’s also a sidebar lice primer and an audio lice check.

I do not want to use that insecticide shampoo ever again so I’ve got a few tried-and-true non-toxic lice solutions if we should ever have another lice outbreak. Here’s what other people recommended to me: suffocating the lice by applying Cetaphil cleanser, or olive oil, or half vinegar/half conditioner to the hair. Those, in combination with thorough nit-picking and my good friend the Robi-Comb to electrocute those *@#$% lice will be my course of action next time. Meanwhile, to prevent the lice from coming back, we’ve added a few drops of tea-tree oil to our shampoos, we’re keeping the kids’ hair tied back when they’re at school, and we’re doing regular lice checks.

I’m almost afraid to write this for fear it will jinx me, but I think the crisis is over. I spotted one egg on one kid’s head last night. Her little scalp is gleaming now, nearly nit free. Can I say the lisis has passed??


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It’s been a rough start to our greener lifestyle.

I was going to write about how we were trying to reduce the amount of wrapping paper we used over the holidays, and how we hit some library used-book sales to stock up on reading material for our kids, who adore to read.

But it all came to a screeching halt on Boxing Day night as we drove home to Montreal from a family get together in Ontario. One of the kids complained that her head was itchy and asked if we could do a lice check on her when we got home. Sure enough, we spotted lice eggs — or nits — on her head that night.

In the clear light of the next morning, after a family friend who is a Lice Lady at her kids’ elementary school checked all our noggins, we had two kids with confirmed cases of lice, and me with an itchy head. Doesn’t everyone’s head get itchy when someone says the L-word?

The recommended treatment for lice is definitely not green: a pesticide shampoo kept behind the counter at the pharmacy. Overwhelmed with the job ahead — hours of picking through the kids’ hair looking for lice eggs and doing load after load of laundry (all the bedding, coats, stuffed animals, pillows, and more had to be washed in hot water and sent through the dryer) — I didn’t even think to look for natural solutions. We slapped the shampoo on the kids’ hair and started combing out bugs and eggs.

Three days later, and me with a confirmed case of lice too, we’re trying the non-chemical path now.

After pulling hundreds of eggs out of one kid’s hair, we invested $45 in a battery-operated device (the Robi-Comb, from LiceGuard) that kills lice on contact. It has been worth every penny.

And today, instead of another dose of pesticide, I slathered this tried-and-true home remedy on one of the kids’ hair: equal parts hair conditioner and vinegar. Leave it on for an hour and then rinse and shampoo. Apparently lice don’t like the vinegar and their nasty little eggs can’t stick to your hair as well if vinegar has been there.

Many people who’ve been in the lice trenches have recommended using tea tree oil. Supposedly lice don’t like it. We’ve used the shampoo, and are dabbing tea tree oil behind the kids’ ears as a preventive measure. Let’s hope it works.

If you really want to learn more about lice check out HeadLice.org, which has lots of pictures and info. Quebec’s health department also has a good pamphlet (PDF) on the topic.

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