Because so many foster kids bring this little critter home for fun, I figured I'd post a page with info about how I treat lice in my home. Consider this a public service announcement with an alternative way to treat lice that is not commonly found on the internet.
When we first
got MissArguePants and her sister TurtleTurtle in our home, they came
with lice. Bad lice. In fact, these precious girls told me that they
didn't remember at time in their lives when they didn't have lice. They
knew how to scratch their heads so they wouldn't get caught at school.
They also shared with me horrific ways their bio family had treated said
head lice in the past. (I believe the worst I heard was kerosene or
some other horribly flammable liquid.) Nothing would kill the lice.
we have to take our kids to the doctor within 72 hours of placement, I
was immediately given an Rx for lice pesticide. (All the drugs you
commonly get OTC are pesticides.) I followed all the instructions to a
"T". Still...the lice remained. All the doctor would do is prescribe
another round of the same drug that didn't work the first time.
My brother is a doctor. I consulted him. He told me to go back to my pediatrician and ask for ivermectin.
I did. The episode did NOT go well. Needless to say, the doctor and I
did not see eye to eye on this issue and she just wrote an Rx for the
same drug that had failed me twice.
I started to use my
Google degree. I scoured the internet for any information I could find.
My brother told me that the FDA had just approved benzyl alcohol for the treatment in drug resistant lice. Unfortunately, I knew my chances of getting an Rx for that were close to zilch.
happened to find a link mentioning the idea that the alcohol in
Listerine would work the same as benzyl alcohol. At this time, I cannot
find the exact link that I found so you'll just have to trust me on this
Here's the science behind it:
Studies of the effect of Ulesfia Lotion (brand name of Rx) on native, captured
lice suggest that benzyl alcohol inhibits lice from closing their
respiratory spiracles, allowing the vehicle to obstruct the spiracles
and causing the lice to asphyxiate.
The reason lice
don't die when you wash your hair is because, simply put, they can hold
their breath. They breathe out of spiracles on the sides of their
bodies. They can close these and stay alive for several hours without
breathing. Home remedies like mayonnaise and excessive amounts of hair
gel sort of work at asphyxiating the lice. However, they are very messy
and not super effective.
Benzyl alcohol keeps them from closing the spiracles and the lice drown when you wash your hair.
decided to try Listerine on my girls. I poured it directly on their dry
hair. (I didn't want the lice to close their spiracles before I poured
on the Listerine.) Yes, you have to be very careful to keep the
Listerine out of the child's eyes. I saturated their hair well and then
put it up in a shower cap. I placed several washrags around the inside
of the shower cap so the Listerine wouldn't run out and get all over. I
had the girls wear the shower caps for around 30 minutes while they
continued bathing like normal.
After it sat for awhile I
helped the girls rinse their hair. I was nothing short of amazed the
first time. Mind you, I had used the Rx multiple times and I had used
the nit comb for hours and hours nightly pulling as many lice and nits
out as I possibly could. The first time I rinsed their hair after the
Listerine, there were at least 50-100 lice in the bathtub with the first
Because the Listerine can only kill live lice, I
knew that I wasn't done yet. I used the nit comb quickly that night on
her hair but I wasn't too worried about it. I simply made plans to treat
again after the eggs on their heads hatched 2 days later. (I recommend
treating the second time 2-3 days after the first. Then, depending on
what you're seeing for dead lice, you can treat again in 2-3 days or
wait up to a week.)
Two days later I treated again.
This time when rinsing there were a lot fewer dead lice. I combed
through with a nit comb. But again, I did not spend hours!!! Using
Listerine cuts way down on that horrible time suck of a process!! In
fact, it's not even exactly necessary if you treat with Listerine until
the lice are gone.
I waited a week after the second treatment before I did it one more time. THERE WERE NO
LICE!!! My girls, for possibly the first time in years, were lice free.
The only side effect they suffered from was minty fresh hair.
of the biggest benefits of treating lice in this manner is that it is
not a drug. Lice will not become resistant to it. And you don't have to
worry about putting pesticides on your child. And, if you're a foster
parent, you don't have to get a prescription or permission to treat this
way. It's so easy and it solves a problem quickly.
I still recommend bagging up stuffed animals and pillows that may have
been infected. Yes, wash the bedding in hot water. But, for the most
part, lice want a human host. If they're happy where they are at,
they're not going to leave. We never had anyone else in the house become
infected during the entire time we were trying to get the problem under
control with our girls.
I believe wholeheartedly in
this method. When TT came home from school with lice last year, I
immediately reached for the Listerine. He had a pretty bad case – any
kid at all can get them! Listerine to the rescue! He was lice free in
two weeks!! (I actually think we got them all the first time and the
little bit of nit combing I did got all the eggs.)
Lice is NO FUN! I hope this can help someone.