Photo Credit: Eran Finkle
Lice! It is the word every parent dreads to hear. You immediately start to itch all over. Its fills you with a momentary paralyzing dread until you go into freak out mode, or not….
Lice are nasty critters to deal with. I speak from lots of first hand experience, just saying I have treated over 50 cases of lice while living in Mexico. I think I should consider a job as a professional nit-picker. You didn’t know that was an actual job did you? Once you have dealt with lice you will understand the expression nit-picking so much better.
Before you rush to the local drug store please stop and breath for a moment and listen (or rather read). You don’t need chemicals to treat lice. No, that’s not a typo. You can treat your child’s lice without one drop of chemicals.
4 Myths About Lice
- Lice jump or fly
- Lice are attracted to impoverished areas and dirty heads
- Lice make you a dirty person
- Lice need chemicals to kill them
Here are a few facts:
- Lice can hold their breath for up to 8 hours
- Lice can swim. (Nasty right, I’ve watched)
- There are natural, safe and effective treatments to get rid of lice
Myth #1: Lice jump/fly
Lice do not jump, they crawl. If your head is next to someone who has lice, they may crawl on your head. If you are sharing a hat, comb or article of clothing lice can be transferred from head to head. They do not have wings. Sharing a bed, going to sleep-overs and things like that spread lice as well.
Photo Credit:Gillies San Martin
Myth #2: Lice are attracted to impoverished areas and dirty heads
There is a stigma that lice are associated with filth and poverty. I remember going on high school missions trips and wearing bandanas anytime I was around kids hoping to prevent getting lice. The kids were poor, “So obviously, they must have lice.”
Right after high school where did this girl with a bit of a lice phobia move to? Mexico, to the exact same community that I visited in high school. Within the first few weeks I learned that many of the things that I believed about lice to be a lie. (I also learned to be an awesome nit-picker!) I cannot tell you how many times people naturally assume that if a kid is poor and dirt that they must have lice. It shames a person, making then feel unclean and embarrassed.
Did you know that lice prefer clean heads? Those smooth silky heads that get washed every night, yup those are the ones that lice LOVE.
Myth #3: Lice make you dirty
This label drives me crazy!
Lice feed off of our blood. They bite your head which is why you may feel an itch when you have lice. Smooth, clean hair is easier for the nits to cling onto in order to eat and lay nits (eggs). One of my amazing girls that I cared for never had lice. She came from a very poor home where they rarely bathed or washed their hair. She could be gone visiting her mother for three months and never came back with lice. Her hair was so greasy. The lice didn’t have a chance.
Photo Credit:Gillies San Martin
Who is less likely to get lice?
- African Americans — This texture of hair is hard for the lice to cling onto.
- Those with greasy hair — Grease does not allow lice to grip the hair shafts.
The real problem with lice and poverty.
I also cared for a girl who came from an “average” home. She always had freshly washed hair and clothing when she returned to school. She also came with a head of lice. This is not to say that children in poverty or those that don’t wash their hair frequently don’t get lice, it just lessens the chances.
The real problem with lice and poverty is the inability to effectively treat the lice. Generally homes do not have hot running water, which means no washing machine. This makes cleaning clothing and bedding very difficult. This helps end an infestation more effectively and in a shorter period of time. Heat kills lice.
Time is another factor. Often parents work long hours and don’t have the time to pick nits and lice out of their child’s hair. When you are dealing with an extremely infested head, it can take up to 12 hours just to clean medium length hair. That is just the initial cleaning. You then have to go back every day or two and check for more. You also have to keep up on the washing of clothing and bedding until the lice are eradicated. This is hard enough when you have one child, many families have multiple children.
There really does need to be grace and kindness when interacting with people who have lice. It can be dealt with without shame or making someone feel like “less” of a person. We all depending on the circumstances have a possibility of having lice no mater our income level or country we live in. One thing I appreciate in Mexico that there isn’t the same shame that you experience in the U.S. It’s a fact of life, you deal with it and move on. Last year I treated one girl for a few months before the lice were all dead. We took precautions and it did not spread to all 12 the people living in my home.
Lice do not carry disease. They are just annoying bugs that are hard to get rid of that cause a slight irritation to the body. (I am aware that you can have issues from lice. This generally happens when a person goes for years without treating them. If you don’t get rid of lice and are constantly itching your head it *could* lead to open wounds and possible infection. This is very rare.)
Myth #4 Lice (and nits) need harsh chemicals to kills them
Contrary to what most people will tell you, harsh chemicals are not needed to effectively kill lice. I spent the first 5 years of my time in Mexico using name brand lice shampoos. Sometimes all the lice were killed other times they weren’t. Those shampoos don’t kill the nits. They still have to be picked or combed out. These chemicals are extremely harsh and similar to an insecticide. Only this is not being sprayed around a house, this is going straight on someone’s head. The skin is the body’s largest organ so it is absorbing those toxins immediately.
So, you don’t want me to use lice shampoo, what should I use?
Here are a few things to keep on hand:
- A good comb
- Coconut Oil
- Essential Oils
- Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar Lice Spray
- Flat Iron
There are many effective steps you can take to rid your child and home of lice effectively and naturally. I talk about them in my article, 10 Tips for Treating Lice Naturally. I have been using these steps with great success for many years for 1 to 10 children at a time. I know that you will find them helpful as well!
Note: Please note that this is all from first hand expereince. This is what I have found to be effective for me over the years.