Super Lice - How to Treat without Pesticides

Here's an article on the rise of super lice.

In spring 2016, my daughter came home from school with head lice THREE times. She has beautiful, long, thick hair, and there's no way I would ever cut it off, but I also didn't want to put a bunch of chemicals on her head. Plus I knew that a lot of the pesticide treatments for lice aren't very effective anymore. I decided to try a natural treatment I had heard about instead.

The first two times, I started by using a flat iron on her hair, on the theory that heat kills nits. It probably does, but she really hated it. It took forever to do on her thick hair, though not as long as picking nits by hand. Also, viable nits are found on the strands of hair 1/4 inch or closer to the scalp. That means I had to get the flat iron really close to her head and accidentally burned her scalp a few times. I felt really bad for her and just skipped this step the third time. The process worked fine without it. However, I caught the infestation very quickly, so she only had a few nits. For a worse infestation, I'd still do this step.

Then I put about half a bottle of conditioner in her hair. Her hair was dry when I put the conditioner in. It has to cover every part of the hair and scalp in a thick goop. If the hair was wet, it would water down the conditioner and keep it from sticking to the head and hair like it needs to. After her hair was totally gunked up with conditioner, I put a shower cap on her head and left it on for about an hour and a half. This is supposed to suffocate the lice. I don't know if it actually does, or if it just slows them down for the next step.

Then finally, I combed her hair very thoroughly with a metal nit comb. I used this one: Plastic nit combs do not work. If you buy a plastic one, you waste your money.

I took the hair in small sections and made sure every single strand of hair was combed through multiple times. I made sure to start at the scalp and go smoothly and evenly down to the end of the hair. The teeth on the nit comb are extremely close together, so combined with the thick conditioner, it pulls lice and nits out of the hair. I kept a cloth beside me to wipe the comb after each time it was pulled through the hair. It's important to be very, very thorough with this step. Lice are very good at getting out the way when you scratch your head or comb your hair, and they hold onto the hair to keep from being washed out when you wash your hair. I imagine it's a lot harder to do that with sticky conditioner slathered all over the hair and scalp. Plus, you want to make sure there are no nits left to hatch and restart the cycle.

After all this, I rinsed the conditioner out. Then I checked her hair daily for several days, then every two or three days for the next month. I didn't find any more lice or nits, not a single one. This method got rid of the lice all three times. Since the end of that school year, she hasn't gotten lice again. It helps that I home schooled her this past school year.

Of course, I also washed her clothes, bedding, and any fabric toys.

I highly recommend this method. Please keep in mind though that a child should never sleep in a shower cap, or with anything plastic on her head. The fight against lice isn't worth the danger of death by suffocation, and the risk isn't necessary to get rid of lice anyway. As I said above, I only left the shower cap on my daughter for an hour and a half.

If one of my sons got lice, I wouldn't go through all this to get rid of the problem. I'd just shave his head. Fortunately, my daughter has never had lice before or since those three times, and my sons have never had lice even once. It's a horrible experience. I won't say I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, because I would. :-D

ClareBroommaker's picture

Years ago, some kids would get their hair coated in mayonnaise or even Vaseline (an oil product, hmm) for days in hopes of smothering lice. I suspect it worked. Have you any knowledge of that? It would be more trouble than conditioner.

They used to do that when my mom was a kid. She says it didn't work, probably because it didn't get rid of the nits.