How contagious is lice? How would you treat it? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 12 Old 07-28-2004, 01:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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odd question...i havent thought of lice since they went through our hair in grade school with those popsicle sticks...but a family member has a case of it. he lives in CA and we live in IL but he was just here for a visit and, apparently, gave it to my younger brother (who is 18). i only saw the 1st boy with lice once on his trip here and i don't recall hugging him (he's about 10 and not into hugs with older cousins ) but i have seen my brother twice since then and he has held our new baby and sat with me on a bed while i changed and fed my DD. now, my DD's hair is almost gone (she's 2months old) and i'm pretty sure i'd see lice...but then again, i've never seen it before so how do i know? and how would i know if DH or i have it? i haven't seen anything suspicious. i already have a dry scalp so i'm itchy all the time as it is. how can i treat it, if we DID have it...are harsh "lice" chemicals the only way to go? anyone have experience with this? (our doc is out of town till our next visit on 8/10)

thanks!!!
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#2 of 12 Old 07-28-2004, 01:39 AM
 
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my oldest caught lice in kidnergarten and i used a lice shampoo from the health food store. took 2 treatments and a LOT of combing and nit picking. we kept her home for a week and then i found a product called Lice Off. it's a blend of essential oils you add to unscented shampoo/conditioner or water in a spray bottle and used daily, it repels lice...since we started using that we have had no more trouble.
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#3 of 12 Old 07-28-2004, 09:28 AM
 
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My oldest came home from school with lice a few years ago (and gave it to her brother too). Luckily, he had a buzz cut and I saw the bug right away and got it off. My oldest, however, had waist length dark thick hair. :

STAY AWAY from the chemicals! Bad, bad, bad for you and they don't work, IME.

The only thing that worked was a small metal comb that is made for combing them out (we got ours at Wal-mart, right by the lice shampoos for $4.96, metal comb with a blue handle). Wet down your hair and comb, comb, comb from the scalp to the ends.

I still comb out her hair about once a week "just in case".

HTH
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#4 of 12 Old 07-29-2004, 12:56 AM
 
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Headlice is EXTREMELY contagious, and takes extreme efforts to get rid of it. It went around our school twice this year and it was rampant. My ds was so lucky not to get it but my stepdaughter got it. You have to wash everything you own that is cloth (clothes, linens, jackets, stuffed animals, slipcovers...) in hot water, and for the things that cannot be washed in hot water, bag them in BLACK plastic garbage bags tightly for ten days. You will know you have it if you find little tiny eggs on the hair shaft. They usually start around the neck and could be clear or white in color. They are very tiny. Get a special comb from the pharmacy that is meant for picking out/looking for lice eggs. The eggs can transfer from one person to another person and live like that for a week or maybe more, then hatch, then you'll know you have it because you'll be itching like hell.

At our school, most people HAD to resort to the chemical treatment because it was the only thing that would work, after trying natural remedies. But not all chemical treatments are alike. I think the one that you want to avoid is Kwell because it can cause brain damage if you accidentally use too much.

The book "Natural Healing for Babies and Children" (Aviva Romm) deals with headlice and gives recommendations for getting rid of it naturally - basically it is a rinse you make with apple cider vinegar and thyme essential oil - it uses a lot of thyme oil, I think maybe a full ounce - which is expenise - we made up the recipe and the thyme oil cost around $17 - but worth it! You shampoo it in your hair every night, then rinse it out. Also you are supposed to rub olive oil or coconut oil into your hair, cover it with a scarf or bandana, and leave it on all night. Lice don't like grease. Washing your hair with shampoo will not help! They like the clean hair shaft. They do not like grease so get your hair good and greasy with olive oil. Good luck!!
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#5 of 12 Old 07-29-2004, 08:16 PM
 
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Also heard tea tree oil + conditioner... lots and lots of conditioner with lots and lots of combing.

I remember a story once on a lady who actually made a living by treating lice... she'd just patiently comb them out ...

I would think you'd be able to visibly see them on a bare scalp?
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#6 of 12 Old 07-30-2004, 01:25 AM
 
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It is true that lice are very contagious. The one hug that you gave your family member is enough contact for you or your children to get them. The bst natural remidy is Tea Tree Oil. There are natural Tea Tree based treatments that also have other essential oil pesticides, like eucalyptus and citronella. The best thing to do is get a few oof those and treat everyone in the household. Then follow up with regular hairwashing using a Tea Tree based shampoo and conditioner. The combing is a must, even with all the treatments.

As far as bedding, clothing and stuffed animals my understanding is that it is best to wash in hot, but if you can't do that then you can put stuff in the dryer on high for 30+min. That will also kill any lice and eggs. The life cycle is 7-10 days so eveything has to be repeated after that time to make sure that any survivors do not have a chance to reproduce.

Also, vacume, any couches and furniture. Then you can also make a spray from the lice treatment or just form tea tree, and apply that to hte furniture as well.

Good Luck,

I know it is a lot of work, but better to catch it early.
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#7 of 12 Old 07-30-2004, 01:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for all the tips...i still don't know/think we have it. like i mentioned, i have an itchy scalp...it's also flaky so i'm just afraid i wouldn'tbe able to see lice and/or eggs if they were there. but i assume DH could sice his hair is shorter and he doesn't have the same kind of scalp i do. DD is practically bald anyway so i know she doesn't have it...but NOW my mother wants us over on saturday for a bday party and, even though my brother is treating his lice, she apparently thinks adults don't get it! now we don't know if we even want to go over there...........
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#8 of 12 Old 07-30-2004, 04:37 PM
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Lice are becoming immuned to the chemicals in the scripts docs hand out or the over the counter meds as well.

There are tons of "how to deal with lice" sites out there. One even has a book you can send away for for the kids to explain what's going on. I got it even though I'm in Canada.

I got it after doing a "good sammaritan" thang and helped a poor soul get from point a to point b. The freller gave me lice! It was a month before I realized that yes, indeed it was lice, and by then, my DS had it too.

So I did my research. I react to the chemicals so they were out before I even looked at them. DS and I were still nursing so they were contraindicated anyway.

Water does nothing to get rid of them. All they do is hold their breath while you shower so that doesn't work. And with long hair, cutting it all off was not the thing I wanted to do.

What does work is an oil based substance. That will get into their "gills" or lungs and clog them up and drown the suckers! But you have to leave it on for at least half an hour. Olive Oil works and is cheap. 1L will do most of a family at least once if not two to three times.

This is what I did: I picked up two DVDs, grabbed a nit comb and olive oil and a new brush, and settled down for at least a 2hr nit pick. DS sat in my lap whil I nit picked his hair. I found a louse but no nits so I took the olive oil and doused him with it.

Then I went after my hair. I brushed it out, ran the nit comb through, found about a half dozen live lice and several nits and doused my hair with oil. We sat and stewed for an hour while the DVD played then went into the shower with a bottle of dishsoap (Dawn works best) and washed our hair out until it squeaked, added conditioner to both and finished.

Back in the living room, I brushed DS's hair out using the new brush I bought after nit picking it again. DVD no 2 was on while I worked with him. When I finished with him, I worked on my hair. I found another half dozen lice but this time they were dead. I worked for a good 3 hrs nit picking before I brushed my hair out.

DP got home and I did the same thing with his hair.

I washed all our pillows and pillow cases over a week period, all the bedding, any towels that came into contact with hair.... I went a little nuts. I also cleaned all my brushes after putting them away for at least a week.

I did the olive oil treatment on the guys 1 more time and on me 3 more over a 3 week period because of how long my hair is. I wanted to get them all out!

But the point is - I didn't have to use chemicals and I saved my hair!
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#9 of 12 Old 08-02-2004, 01:59 AM
 
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I don't feel like they are that contagious based on a couple experiences. My dd got them at age 4. We had just gotten home from living overseas and I'm sure she got them at the preschool she was going to as they shared bike helmets, etc. We were curled up sleeping on the plane together and then after returning we shared a bed and pillow for 3 nights before I discovered that she was fully infested. In retrospect I realized she had been scratching her head for a couple weeks prior. I never got them.

Second situation was a friend of my dd's who got them last winter. They had a hell of time getting rid of them. It took weeks. During that time none of her family members got them and she slept over at my house, we never got them and she and my dd shared a bed on a ski trip and didn't get them.

There are things you can do to lessen your chances. Apply lavender oil to your hairline or spray a mist of water with lavender oil in it to your hair. Use tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner (Desert Essence) and they will not want to live on you. Wash sheets, pillow cases, etc often.

To get them out of my dd's hair (luckily she doesn't have thick hair) I washed her hair in the tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner which got all the adults out. Then saturated her hair in olive oil which made it easy to slide the lice eggs out (this took several hours). The key is that you have to get every single egg or they will continue to reproduce. I don't know why it is easier for some people to get rid of them than other, but you have to be persistent about denitting and washing bedclothes, etc.

To keep the rest of our family from getting them we all used the tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner for a couple weeks.

When there is a lice outbreak at school I always use lavender on my kids necklines, ears, etc as a deterrent.

Hope this helps.

Alison
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#10 of 12 Old 08-09-2004, 04:43 PM
 
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It doesn't sound like you have it jennyriver, you would be able to see tiny whitish oblong eggs/nits stuck to the individual hairs. And it doesn't just flick away (you have to literally pull them all the way off each hair). If you have light hair it would probably be easier to see the lice themselves, they are brown and bigger than the nits.

I'll add my experience for any others who find this thread....

We're going through this right now. I refuse to use the dangerous chemicals. Neem seed oil works, perhaps the best, but it stinks pretty bad. Add some lavender essential oil to counter the stink. Dd has them but her head doesn't itch. I don't have them but my head itches . I'm treating all 3 of us (including DH) with a natural shampoo concoction of Dr. Bronner's Lavender Castille soap along with a good squirt of neem seed oil. I also made a spray of neem seed oil, lavender oil, and water, and continue to spray it everywhere (don't forget the car seats). I washed all linens in hot water. I spent 3 hours combing through dd's hair yesterday but this morning I found a few more nits : so we'll go through it again today. We will try the olive oil idea today, and follow it up with tea tree shampoo.

Good luck to anyone who goes through this. It is not fun.
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#11 of 12 Old 08-09-2004, 05:04 PM
 
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I forgot to say that I went to the health food store to buy the treatment for head lice but when I looked at the ingredients on the package, the main ingredient was neem seed oil. So instead of spending $15 on the product, I spent $5 for a bottle of neem seed oil and made my own (which will last longer too).
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#12 of 12 Old 08-09-2004, 05:33 PM
 
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My 5 yr old got lice last year and none of the rest of us ever got them even tho we were co-sleeping. I didnt wash stuffed animals and all of that - just did regular vacumming - maybe more thoroughly and washed sheets etc. Here is what I did to get rid of them. I coated her hair/scalp with mayonnaise thinned a bit with vinegar & added some GSE and massaged it in thoroughly .Then I covered her head(hair part only,of course) with a plastic produce type bag and left it on for about 3-4 hours while she played.The vinegar helps to break the cement that keep the nits stuck to the hair shaft,the mayo suffocates the bugs.Then I washed her hair,put some conditioner on it and combed her hair all out with one of those lice/nits combs.Most of the adult bugs were dead and combed out easily.Every day,I would use some conditioner mixed with water and comb,comb,comb.It worked! Hugs,Catherine
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