Head Lice Removal

Your Child Has Lice? Spread the Word.

Prepare yourself. Starts with L. Makes your head itch. … Lice. The mere word sends tingles up the scalps of parents across the country. It should. Because in the battle of exhausted parents versus lice, it feels as if the lice are winning.

Treating lice is an unpleasant, time-consuming job. Sadly, it’s a job many parents are forced to add to their already busy schedules. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 6 to 12 million infestations occur each year in the United States among children 3 to 11 years of age.

We can give one another a fighting chance at defeating (or better yet, avoiding) the enemy if we not only treat lice, but destigmatize them. Unfortunately, in addition to their own excellent hiding and reproductive skills, lice are frequently accompanied by a cloud of shame and secrecy. And while that’s good for lice, it’s not good for us. We have to talk about lice, a whole lot more than we currently do.

I’ll start. My name is Kristin, and I’m a lice survivor. Our first time we went nuts — donned our hazmat suits, washed every sheet daily for two weeks and kept quiet. I was embarrassed. That’s all I knew to do, until one mom shared her family’s lice story on the school Listserv. She not only built awareness about lice in our school, but she also showed us that information was power. Because the more we talked about lice, the fewer cases there seemed to be.

I’ve been yapping about lice ever since. My suggestions for communities battling lice:

1) To the parent whose child has lice: 

We feel your pain. Now, please do the following: Treat it, and talk about it. Tell your kids that anyone can get lice; it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Let friends’ parents know so they check their children. And please, talk to teachers and school nurses, so they can be aware that a lice infestation is present in the school.

Schools with strict “no nits” policies unintentionally discourage this: Parents who fear missing work or their kids missing school treat as best as they can and hope no school official’s eyes are sharper than theirs. But here’s the problem: If you indeed missed some lice/nits, you put an entire classroom at risk of getting lice. And then your kid might cycle back through in a few months. Report the lice, please. It’s in the interest of all kids, including yours.

2) To the schools that have at least one case of lice: 

Tell us. Please. Some parents say their schools won’t notify parents of lice infestations until a certain threshold of multiple lice cases is reached. Schools that share detailed information on how to both prevent and treat lice — beginning with the first known case — may prevent many future cases. Educate us; don’t wait. And please, be proactive in helping repeat cases find the extra help they need to get rid of lice.

3) To the parents who get the lice note from school or the call from a friend’s parent: 

Say thank you, then get to work. Yes, it’s natural to want to groan. But remember, you’ve been given useful information. Knowing about lice leads to both prevention (have girls wear long hair pulled back; don’t share hats) and early intervention. Immediate and thorough comb-outs can mean catching the one and only louse. That’s far preferable to meeting her entire extended family a week later.

I think we can all agree that no one is pro-lice, though school and health organizations disagree on school lice policies. Strict “no nits” policies are opposed by the C.D.C. and the National Association of School Nurses and supported by the National Pediculosis Association and some school districts, including mine (for the record, we still have plenty of lice). But whichever school policy you support, the fact that our country has up to 12 million cases a year says we need to do more in our battle against lice. 

Here’s what doesn’t work: advocating secrecy and treating lice infestations as though they’re shameful. If we want to prevent the spread of lice, we need open and frequent communication from parents and schools. Because the less we talk about lice, the less likely we are to rid ourselves of a really annoying bug. 

Dealing With Lice Is Political Hot Potato For School Officials

No nit and no lice policies are imprudent, as they are based on misinformation, hysteria and intolerance rather than on science. The discovery of lice or their eggs on students should not cause them to miss school.

Exclusionary policies for lice were adopted early in the last century when body lice and infections they transmitted caused global epidemics. More recently, body lice and head lice were recognized as distinct in their biology, epidemiology, medical and public health significance. Body lice can spread disease but are restricted mainly to indigent adults. Head lice, which do not spread disease, are relatively trivial and serve as occasional nuisances that mainly affect young children. They do not cause epidemics.

Exclusionary policies are so entrenched that most folks believe they must be necessary and effective. Inertia is a strong force, and any effort to even suggest changing the policies is met with vigorous resistance by a misinformed, aggressive and highly vocal minority. The result is a political hot potato that causes angst among school administrators. Those who seek to pursue policies based on science and evidence-based practice tend to relent to the intense pressure and venom hurled by dissenting parents. 

Louse exclusion policies are discouraged by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of School Nurses and by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many school systems have consequently eliminated or modified their procedures. Instead of the feared epidemics, the change has resulted in relative calm, greater emphasis on education, fewer unnecessary absences and treatments, and cost savings for parents and schools. Kids will continue to have lice regardless of a school's policy, be it no nit, no live lice or one that says "all kids are welcome." 

The New York City Department of Education and Department of Mental Health and Hygiene were leaders in 2007 when they replaced their no-nit policy with a no-live-lice strategy. The next step, allowing children even with live lice to stay in the classroom, is long overdue.

Eggs You Don’t Want To Find This Holiday!

Hey Mom and Dad,

The long weekend is almost upon us and for those who celebrate, there’s some excitement brewing around a certain furry friend who arrives on Easter morning with some goodies for the little ones (and let’s face it, we parents sneak some of those goodies for us too!).

The kids get a long weekend off from school and friends and family come to visit. The last thing you need to deal with during this special time are head lice. 

We have plenty of great articles that cover head lice so in today’s blog post – we’re going to focus specifically on eggs (and I don’t mean Easter!!!) .

Louse eggs otherwise known as nits are the deciding factor between having one louse on your child vs. a full out infestation.

Here are some fun facts that every parent should know:

  • Nits are oval in shape

  • Viable (fertile) nits are caramel in color not white

  • A mature louse can lay 5-10 nits per day

  • Nits take 7-10 days to hatch

  • Nits attach to one side of the hair shaft and won’t come off easily like dandruff

Regardless of Policy, Lice Are Not Going Anywhere

Being an elementary school principal in New York City is filled with many challenges but never would I have imagined that the human head louse would rank among the most formidable. Concerning the current New York City Department of Education policy that prohibits students with lice from attending school, I too scratch my head, but in thought (so far).

The opinions about lice are varied. Some counsel me to refuse entry to those afflicted. After all, as one parent framed it, “lice are contagious.” The rhinovirus is contagious too, I think, but if every child with a runny nose went home, my school would be empty. Others relegate lice to the gantlet that is elementary school, conflating the ritual of special shampoo and nit combs with other inevitable school-borne displeasures like teasing and test anxiety. The truth is, lice existed when I was a child. So did the stigma. This parasite has been around for millennia and is not going anywhere quickly, except from one head to the next. They are a part of the human condition, and despite our best efforts, a part of school, too. 

They are also part of my job. The ritual goes as such: the itchy-headed are sent to my office, not the nurse’s. Office staffers, including me, look for lice and nits. If lice are found, the child does not return to class; if nits are found, a letter is sent home.

But no matter the outcome, the condition perpetuates. Sooner or later another student will visit the principal’s office, and not for disciplinary reasons. Recently, a second-grader said to me: “They jump in my hair because they can camouflage in its color.” Although his understanding of natural selection impressed me, I corrected the error that lice don’t jump, nor do they fly. Survival of the fittest or not, lice thrive by clamping onto strands of hair and climbing them, like ropes, to the scalp, leaving sticky eggs in their wake. 

I am an educator at heart and am happy to expose myths, even ones as disconcerting as lice. I am less happy, though, about students missing school.

Calling All Itchy Moms: Things You Can do to Calm Your Post-Lice Anxiety Possible Sources of Your Continued Itch & Tips for Ending Your Scratching

As a parent, a lice infestation in your home is nothing short of stressful. Between treatment , cleaning household items, and having your kids home from school, a lice infestation is enough to drive anyone bonkers. For weeks afterwards, moms often turn into itchy moms: the caretaker than keeps scratching even though her child’s lice is gone. We understand that you want your lice infestation gone and a piece of your past. That's why we’ve broken down  possible sources of your Itchy Mom Syndrome and suggestions on ways to calm your lice-related anxieties.

Why am I Still Itchy Even Though My Child’s Lice is Gone?

Psychosomatic Itch

It’s likely that you are experiencing psychosomatic itching if you are still itching after a lice infestation. It’s just like watching a movie where a character has bugs on them or finding an ant on your hand; psychosomatic itching makes your skin crawl all over the place without actually experiencing the stimuli. Since the mere thought of head lice is enough to make anyone’s head itch, it’s important to consider that your itching may not have a physical cause, and is likely just the manifestation of your continued lice-related anxiety.

General Anxiety

For some people, itching and tingling skin is a stress response. Medical professionals often suggest that stress - in this case, related to the life changes stemming from a lice infestation - can aggravate underlying conditions such as eczema and dermatitis by activating nerve fibers that were previously relaxed and unactivated. In other words, stress or anxiety alone can cause hives or itchiness. If this is a persistent problem for you, it’s a good idea to contact a doctor or use a low-dose OTC antihistamine to control the itching.

Healing Louse Bites or Scratch Marks

If you found a few lice on your head during your child’s treatment, you likely experienced a good amount of itching yourself. Once you and your child’s lice are gone, both of you are likely to experience residual itching from any of the following sources:

  • Healing Louse Bites: Much like a mosquito bite, a louse bite will likely be more itchy as it heals --- and that means it IS healing! Power through!

  • Deep Scratch Marks: If you were an aggressive scratcher during your infestation, you may have cut the skin on your scalp. Much like cuts and scrapes elsewhere on the body, the healing process for this cut may cause some itching.

  • Dry Scalp: If you used a lice shampoo or chemical treatment, it’s likely that the chemicals caused drying or irritation to your scalp. Though the lice are gone, it may take time to replenish moisture to your scalp.

Continued Infestation

Don’t panic -- but there’s a chance you still have lice. Since lice has developed an immunity to many OTC treatments, it’s possible that you may have missed a louse or nit along the way. Because these chemical treatments are sometimes insufficient at treating lice, we recommend lice treatment by hand, preferably from a proffesional technician at Larger Than Lice.

What Can I Do to Calm My Nerves?

Since the majority of cases of Itchy Mom Syndrome stem from anxiety surrounding a previous infestation or residual feelings from treatment, there are many ways you can sort through this itching --- most of which are free and easy. We look to cure itchy moms with common anxiety-relieving techniques, peace of mind, and thorough, professional advice.

Tips for Stopping the Post-Lice Infestation Itch‍

Take a Shower: A good cure for psychosomatic itching in particular is taking a shower. By showering, you’ll rid yourself of the dirty feeling that lice can cast upon your body. Also, if you think dry skin or anxiety scratching may be the source of your itch, taking a shower will (quite literally) calm those nerves and moisturize your itchy skin.

Utilize Grounding Techniques: People with anxiety often use grounding techniques to distract themselves from distressing stimuli. If you’re feeling anxious about lice and think that could be the source of your itching, use all five senses to identify what you body is smelling, feeling, hearing, and so on. When you identify real stimuli and acknowledge them, you will often feel relief from anxiety-induced itching.

Have a Glass… Or Two: After dealing with a lice infestation, you probably deserve a glass of wine. So let’s be real here; if your nerves are up and you can’t seem to relax, a glass of wine may help calm you down.

Contact Hair Whisperers: We get it -- after a lice infestation, you have this ongoing anxiety that every speck in your hair is a louse or a nit. That’s why we work with post-treatment moms to provide them with answers.

Erasing the Stigma: Nit Myths and Effective Lice Treatments

When your kids have head lice, it often throws family life into chaos: They miss school, you miss work, and you’ve got to do laundry and spend long, tedious hours picking nits (lice eggs) out of their hair. Perhaps you feel embarrassed and don’t want to tell anyone else, especially if your kids keep getting lice.

Head lice is incredibly common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 6 to 12 million kids ages 3 to 11 get lice every year. Yet there’s a lot of misinformation, stigmas and lice and nit myths

Lice Symptoms & The Difference Between Lice and Dandruff

The primary symptom is an itchy scalp, and you may not feel it until you’ve had lice for several weeks. Once you’ve had lice before, the itching tends to occur sooner, Wong says.

Live lice are large enough to see with the naked eye but can be elusive. Nits, or lice eggs, are tiny, and some people confuse them with dandruff. The difference is that dandruff will flake away, while nits cling to the hair shaft. Wong recommends using a head lamp to check; the nits will reflect the light.

Ways to Get Rid of Lice and Nits

There are several effective lice treatments. Whichever one you use, you’ll need to repeat the treatment after 7-10 days, in case you miss nits and they hatch.

Wet Combing

Combing the hair to remove lice doesn’t involve any chemicals, but it’s not as effective and is a lot of work, Wong says.

Cetaphil Cleanser

You can also try coating the hair and scalp completely with Cetaphil cleanser, drying the hair thoroughly, and leave it on overnight, which smothers the lice. This method is appealing to parents who want to avoid putting toxins on their child’s hair and scalp. Here’s what you do:

  • Coat the hair and scalp completely with Cetaphil

  • Dry the hair

  • Leave it on overnight with a shower cap

  • Wash the hair and remove the nits

Rosemary and Tea Tree Oil

Another over-the-counter treatment with rosemary and tea tree oil claims to dissolve nit glue, but it doesn’t kill lice. Wong recommends using products to prevent infestations — tea tree oil acts as a natural lice repellent.

Combing Out Lice and Removing Nits

Regardless of which treatment you use, you’re still going to need to pluck lice and nits out of your child’s hair. Most combs won’t remove nits completely, so you might need to pull them off the hair. Wong says live nits tend to be very close to the scalp; what looks like a nit farther away from the scalp may actually be an empty egg casing.

Most parents agree that pulling off the nits is the worst part of a lice infestation. But “if they do all that work up front, it really makes it less likely that it’s either going to be persistent or recurring,” Wong says.

Removing Lice from Your House

Lice don’t survive for very long off humans. But to avoid spreading them or becoming re-infested:

  • Wash all bedding and sleepwear

  • Bag stuffed animals and soft items that can’t be washed for two weeks to kill any lice on them

  • Vacuum your furniture

What to Do If Lice Keep Coming Back

Does it seem like your child just gets lice again and again? There are several things that could be happening:

  • You never treated the lice adequately the first time.

  • Your child has treatment-resistant lice.

  • Your child keeps becoming reinfested, perhaps because of a friend or classmate with chronic lice.

In cases of resistant lice, Wong uses one of the prescription treatments. She also suggests trying tea tree oil to prevent lice reinfestation. But another effective treatment? For parents to talk to each other and talk to their child’s teacher, so they can detect other children who have lice and treat them.

“I think we probably would be able to control lice better if there wasn’t this stigma,” Wong says.

The Weird Way Lice is Spreading

We are talking lice and selfies, teens and how to get rid of head lice.

Facebook is always full of all kinds of interesting things. Today, I logged into find a friend posting to a group of us alerting us that her and her 2 daughters had come down with lice. A few of the girls in our group had been over this weekend (we weren’t there, unfortunately – now fortunately).

MY HEAD IS ITCHING JUST WRITING THIS.

If you have ever had to deal with lice, bless you. We once contracted the lovely head lice issue while on vacation. We only had 2 kids at the time. Our son, who had been growing out his hair – had to have his head shaved.

Me and my daughter spent every night for a week in coconut oil and olive coil hair masks. My husband spent many nights picking nits. It was awful.

Teens + Selfies = Lice

Well interesting enough – during my friends trip to the lice place – she learned an interesting thing. There were several teens at the lice treatment place and the lady doing her hair informed her that lice spreads between teens like mad. And the main reason?

Selfies and Lice

Teens take selfies all the time together. Think about the millions of Instagram photos where 2 or more teens are head-to-head posing for a selfie. If 1 teen has lice, the other teen or teens are sure to get this.

SELFIES DO NOT GIVE TEENS LICE — UNLESS ONE OF THE TEENS ALREADY HAS LICE.

All About Head Lice

Okay, I write this NOT to freak out about selfies or teens. I’ve been there, done that with lice – it is SO not fun people. If there is a lice outbreak that you know about in your area, I recommend you suggesting to your teen to hold off on the selfies or to watch who they selfie with. LICE is SO not fun! AND JUST IN CASE you have a case of lice (ugh, prayers)

WHY SCHOOLS ARE MOVING AWAY FROM “NO-NIT” POLICIES

When kids get lice, two of the most commonly asked questions parents ask are, 1) why wasn’t I notified that lice were found at my child’s school? And, 2) why aren’t kids with lice sent home from school until they are lice-free?

The majority of schools have moved away from ‘no-nit’ policies that require students to stay out of school until they are lice and nit free.  The recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) have all stated that no-nit policies should be discontinued.

The past decade has seen a significant shift in the medical and educational communities about how to deal with head lice. Doctors, nurses, and teachers now recognize that head lice do not represent a serious health threat and a case of head lice does not warrant missing valuable school time.  Also, while some schools will notify the parents of children that are found with head lice, most schools don’t warn other families because of the panic and blame that often take place.

The policy changes are designed to help keep children from missing class, shield children with lice from embarrassment, and protect their privacy. The CDC lists the following reasons for the change in policy:

  • Many nits are more than ¼ inch from the scalp. Such nits are usually not viable and very unlikely to hatch to become crawling lice, or may, in fact, be empty shells, also known as ‘casings.’

  • Nits are cemented to hair shafts and are very unlikely to be transferred successfully to other people.

  • The burden of unnecessary absenteeism to the students, families, and communities far outweighs the risks associated with head lice.

  • Misdiagnosis of nits is very common during nit checks conducted by nonmedical personnel.

According to the AAP, “Most cases of head lice are acquired outside of school.” That’s why “the AAP continues to recommend that a healthy child should not be restricted from attending school because of head lice or nits (eggs). Pediatricians are encouraged to educate schools and communities that no-nit policies are unjust and should be abandoned. Children can finish the school day, be treated, and return to school.”

The reality for most school districts is that the effort involved in keeping schools entirely lice-free would be a futile use of their limited resources. The CDC estimates that there are 6-12 million cases of head lice in children between the ages of 3-11. This means that at least 1 in 5 students have lice at any given time. In the early stages of a case of head lice, many children display no symptoms as nits, and adolescent lice, don’t bite and don’t cause the itching sensation that indicates the presence of head lice.

Keeping a school lice-free would require constant checks of the entire student body, which is unrealistic and unnecessary for a condition that is not considered a health problem. That’s the conclusion that the CDC, AAP, and NASN have come to, and many school districts are following these recommendations.

No-nit policies were developed because traditional lice treatments can take several weeks to be effective.  The first treatment is designed to kill live lice but doesn’t kill eggs, or nits. Since nits can hatch over ensuing weeks, combing and nit-picking are required with traditional treatment.