Monday, January 4, 2010


As an extra Christmas present, half the family is hosting lice. I've never dealt with this before, so here's what I'm picking up on the internet, and what I'm doing to solve the problem.

Get it off their heads: The first kid I found had a bad infestation. At least, it was shocking to me. I ran down to the drugstore, sabbath or not, and bought a RID kit. Shampooed her hair in Piperonyl butoxide, then combed through her hair, using the gel in the kit to ease the way, alternating between the plastic comb in the kit, and the metal comb I'd bought. After each pass, I'd wipe the comb off with a paper towel and put that in the trash.

Then I started looking around on the internet, overwhelmed by how much cleaning, laundering, and vacuuming I'd need to do to remove any lice from the house. There I discovered the Robi comb. I went back to the drugstore that night and bought one, and used that to find and remove many lice from the next kid's hair, and a few from mine. It's a comb with a little electrical current to catch and kill the lice as it moves through the hair. Ugh! Kid Two and Me still need combing to remove eggs.

The good news: they like the dark, so the lice aren't going to be in our eyebrows or on our arms. If we can be clear for ten days, we've probably gotten rid of them.

I think my next plan is to get Cetaphil lotion and use that for nit comb-thrus. I guess I need to train a teenager to comb through my hair. I suppose we'll all be getting in touch with our inner ape this week, grooming each other this way.

Get it out of the house: Because otherwise they'll move from the pillow, floor, clothing, towels, and just be back in your hair. Adults can live 55 hours on a textile, but I'm not sure if the eggs keep longer.

Down comforter I ran it through the dryer for 40 minutes. I hope the heat did them in, if anything was there. The cotton cover looks scorched.

Other bed linen Wash and dry in hot. That's a lot of laundry with a houseful of kids, but I'm working through it. I've decided everyone's only getting one blanket back, so I can rewash everyone's bed linens every day for the next little while.

carpet Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. Our vacuum doesn't have bags, so I hope none of them rise in a cloud back into my hair when I dump the bag. Of course, some of the kids' floors are covered in post-Christmas toy mess, so there's prep work to the vacuuming.

upholstery At this point I realized all our upholstery is leather, which basically means we're in luck. What can you do really, wipe it down? I don't think the lice can live on it.

Stuffed Animals I'm not sure what to do at this point. I've read that we could leave the house for three days, and when we returned all the lice would be dead for lack of host. But I've also read I've got to put the stuffed animals in an airtight bag for two weeks to kill what may be in them. Is the longer period for killing the eggs? If so, wouldn't the eggs be surviving on the carpet or towels longer than three days?

I've put the stuffed animals in non-airtight garbage bags out of the way for now.

Clothing I don't think I have to wash the clothes hanging in the closets, since we're just getting back from a two-week vacation. But everything else, and the closet of little Miss Dress Up, has got to run through the system.

I'm staging everything in stacks in the tile-floor hall. I'm thinking of getting big garbage bags to keep it in, just because the site of possibly contaminated laundry is scaring me. And, we've all got to brush by it to get to the bathroom. I know they don't fly, but still...


  1. Ugh Johnna. What a pain! So sorry.

  2. I had lice when I was a little girl. I remember staying up until midnight while my mom combed my hair. And then she made me swear not to tell anyone at all, but I told my friend's mom when I was playing at her house, and then she started washing all the sheets. I remember the smell of the medical shampoo, too.

    Good luck and may every louse die.--Emily

  3. I was getting a bit frantic over how to get the nits out of my own hair. It took me two hours per kid for me to do theirs, and my kids have questionable ability, not to mention no time, to do mine.

    I ended up finding out there are lice salons. They do nothing but treat and pick out your lice. It's just under $100/hour. But really, what are my other options?

    I bagged the nit-suspect laundry into trashbags. So far 15 big garbage bags, and more to go.

    I bought myself a new vacuum. Because something good has to come out of this. And I don't trust the old one.