Works For Me: I Dare You To Read This Without Scratching Your Head

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First things first…what REALLY works for me is a long and happy marriage like the one my parents have–happy 36th wedding anniversary, Mom and Dad

Back to regularly scheduled programming….

Susie pointed me toward this creepy, but informative, article.  Evidently the head lice of the world are uniting in revolt against over-the-counter cures. 

Now let’s just come clean for a moment, shall we?  Have your kids ever had head lice?  Mine have.  I confess that, before they did, I thought it only happened to families who lived in total squalor.  I am by no means a great housekeeper–but head lice?  Nope, couldn’t happen here.

UNTIL a couple of years ago, when my oldest son shared a community batting helmet at a t-ball game.  Yep, he came home with head lice.  And he passed it to both his brothers.  I was mortified.  I completely freaked out and called the nurse (who was, I’m sure, chuckling to herself–"Isn’t this lady supposed to be an experienced mother?") 

So I’m writing this to tell you that if it hasn’t happened to you, get ready, because it likely will.  It doesn’t mean you’re a slob, or that your home is about to be condemned by the health department.  You’re not a bad mom, or a dirty one.  To help you avoid a frantic call to the doctor, here’s what worked for our family:

  1. Try the over-the-counter stuff.  Couldn’t hurt. 
  2. If you have boys, go ahead and buzz their hair off.  It’s not exactly necessary, but it is helpful. 
  3. Wash every single linen in your house in HOT water.  This part takes forever, but when you’re done, your house smells all nice and Downy fresh.
  4. You can buy some over-the-counter lice spray that I used to coat all the non-washable surfaces (like sofa cushions).
  5. This next step really works, but it’s messy.  Coat your kid’s head with vaseline.  Yes, vaseline.  It smothers the lice.  Then cover their head with a shower cap, and have them sleep that way.  Seriously, it works.  But it takes 2-3 washings to get all that vaseline out.  No problem, though–everyone can have a few days with the John-Travolta-in-Grease look.
  6. If all else fails (and I didn’t try this, but I read it on-line), get your kids lice-free and then just leave town.  Lice can only live 3-4 days without human contact.  If no one is in your house to serve as "host", then they will all die. 

See?  This isn’t that bad.  Don’t panic.  If it happens to you, let it be one of those humbling motherhood experiences that reminds you that NO ONE has her act perfectly together.

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70 thoughts on “Works For Me: I Dare You To Read This Without Scratching Your Head

  1. Nettie says:

    Saying a small prayer of gratitude here that this has yet to be a problem I’ve faced… Thanks Shannon, for helping me be prepared for when the lice do strike!
    (And may I say, “Oh my gosh, I’m second!” This is what happens when you wake up with a bad back at 4 am EST and have nothing else to do while you wait for the Ibuprofen to kick in. I’m taking my now itchy head back to bed now…)

  2. Janice says:

    I live in fear of lice!!! I just will die! It is so freaky to think of those little things crawling around…eeww – it is so horrible!! Thanks for the tips – hope I don’t have to use them.
    I always try to remember to link to my post not the home page – but tonight it did it wrong. please forgive me.

  3. Katrina says:

    So far we’ve managed to avoid lice in our home, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. Just reading about it makes me itch!

  4. Jennifer says:

    Shannon–I know that this will be helpful at some point, but I, too dread it. We haven’t been hit yet, but when I was a kid, my stepsiblings brought it home, and I was in, gasp, junior high. Horrid. My dd hates me to comb her hair at all, so getting lice out would really do us both in. I like the vaseline and the leaving town!!
    Mine is up.

  5. Rebecca says:

    Ew. My daughter came home from school with lice last week – luckily, her infestation consisted of two live lice and one nit, so a lice comb and a quick rinse with the over-the-counter shampoo worked just fine. A little girl I knew, though, got the worst case of VERY medicine resistant lice anyone had ever seen – it was nightmarish. I’m filing your tips away because you never know, right?

  6. Carol says:

    You know, I’m not even all that worried about the lice on the kids’ heads – there’s always a way to nuke those monsters. I worry about it being in the upholstery, the carpet, the headrests in the car, their caps, the stuffies, etc. ad horreo.

  7. Amy says:

    I itched and shuddered! It is good to know in those types of situations though. The vaseline & shower cap thing works effectively for tick removal too- they have to let go because they can’t breathe! EWWW!

  8. Katherine says:

    My son got lice from the “community batting helmet” one year, too. It just grosses me out. With five kids, any communicable disease is a disaster around here. I’ve never tried the vaseline idea. Hopefully we won’t have to use it any time soon!

  9. DivaP says:

    I scratched! I keep my son’s hair in a short (but not shaved) “boy cut” style and I hope this doesn’t invite buggies when he gets to Kindergarten this fall. My WMFW is up … no bugs … just ice cream.

  10. GranolaGirl says:

    Great tips! I have 2 sisters, and we ALL got it growing up. At the same. time. With lots of hair. I think we brought it home from summer camp, but we got “you are so gross” looks from kids at school anyway. I remember evenings spent sitting on the floor while mom picked nits out of our hair. Yuck.

  11. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the tips (thought I hope I never need them). When I was a summer camp counselor, there were a couple outbreaks of lice in the cabins. I was so glad that my cabin never got infected. That’s a great way to ruin a kid’s summer camp memories!

  12. mom2fur says:

    Never faced that problem, thank goodness. We all used to think only dirty people got head lice. But all it takes is for the coat your kid hung up in the coat room to brush against someone else’s collar–which brushed up against yet someone else’s collar in the coat room at a restaurant…what a mess. I like the vaseline trick…pretty funny!

  13. Nikkie says:

    I haven’t had to face that problem yet, my guy is too little yet, but I’m sure I will! Thanks for the great tips for when it happens, I would have never thought of some of those!

  14. Michelle-This One's For the Girls says:

    I have to say, Shannon, you act much more laidback about this subject than I did when we got it this past February. To see our headlice-saga go to:
    http://rayzorbackfamily.blogspot.com/2006/02/mia.html
    I absolutely flipped and used kerosene on their hair. (Can you believe I did that??) But with 5 children–2 of them being girls with long hair that we DID NOT want to cut, I wanted the lice GONE. Immediately. I made each child (not the baby!!) lie on the kitchen counter with their head over the sink while I saturated their hair in the kerosene. Then I wrapped their heads in plastic trash bags and made them all sit at the dining room table with a book for an hour. (The windows were open–the fan was running–I never lit a match.)
    And then we did all of the stuff you mentioned. But again, I probably went a little bezerkoid. I went to the laundrymat twice and did about 20 loads each time.
    Finally, I used a very expensive product that I purchased off of the internet called Licex. It’s organic, but promises to kill them (AND THE NITS) or your money back. I probably should have used this in the first place (instead of the kerosene) but like I said, I went totally nuts. If I had heard your advice about leaving town for 3 or 4 days, I probably would have done that too.
    To be honest, I’ve been paranoid about the whole thing ever since and still worry everytime my head itches even though I NEVER HAD IT. I probably need counseling. LOL.
    Now you know me for the nut-case that I really am.

  15. Shalee says:

    I’ve not had this happen, and I truly pray that I never need this advice, but thank you for passing it on. Instead of looking like a frantical, not-with-it mother with the nurse, I’ll just call you and you can talk me through it all.

  16. Susanne says:

    I’ve never heard the vaseline trick before. I’ll give it a try next time. It’s true, though, if your kids have any contact with other kids they will probably sometime get lice. No need to panic.

  17. LammyAnn says:

    Awesome as always! We also found an article about using coconut flavored shampoo on a regular basis deterring those little creeps…so we have used it ever since.
    Can any mom who’s kids have ever had lice, resist the urge to check their kids’ heads until they are grown and married????? I STILL check them and it’s been 6 years!
    Anyway–
    Thank you for your sweet words yesterday…
    Mines up–too.
    Hugs

  18. Maggie says:

    Fortunately, I’ve never encountered lice. I attribute it to lots of luck and the fact that Hubby keeps their hair very short.

  19. Rebecca Mielke says:

    Well I hope people read this, or you may want to re-post it, because this lice cure REALLY WORKS THE FIRST TIME (yes, we’ve had it, and subsequently I have helped a couple of friends, too):
    1) Coat the hair in MAYONNAISE. Oh yeah!
    2) Wrap the head and all the hair in Saran Wrap.
    3) Sit under the dryer. Alternatively, use a blow-dryer. (Oh dear, it’s been awhile since I’ve done it; I think it was 20 minutes.)
    We used the blow-dryer, carefully moving it when it was as hot as possible but taking care not to burn the child.
    Why this works the first time is because you are literally frying the nits. Trust me, it is impossible to find them all if you try to comb them out.

  20. Kali says:

    Do you want to PREVENT headlice? Add a few drops of tea tree oil to your kids’ shampoo. If you use a leave in conditioner on off days, add a few drops to that too. It will kill current lice and keep the new buggers from jumping off of Johnnie and onto your child!

  21. melnel says:

    Good lice tips…
    —but really I wanted to say I like your strikethrough misspellings of together on your header…I think they’re cool. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. mimi2six says:

    I hate to change the subject…..but thank you for your sweet anniversary words! Somehow it seems appropriate for a 36th wedding anniversary to be followed with a discussion of head-lice. Isn’t that, after all, what marriage is all about…..for better or worse? Romance is great and certainly has its place in a good marriage, but it’s going through the yuk of life together and remaining best friends through it…..that’s the secret. There’s no one on earth I’d rather go through all the challenges (good and yuky) of daily life than your dad. God has blessed us immensely with a deepening love for Him, with the joy of raising you and your brother and seeing what incredible adults you are, with our two fantastic in-law children whom we consider our very own, with six of the most adorable and bright grandkids on earth, with an empty nest that is comfortable, peaceful, funny, busy, and full of love.

  23. Jettara says:

    I have had to deal with this problem more then once with kids in school and grandkids in day care. It is really yucky. Another tip I would like to mention is the stuffed animals. Since they can be hard to clean as well. We put ours in plastic bags, seal them up tight and store them away for a week. After that we just take them out and vaccuum them off. Also, I was told by my doctor that lice actually hates filth so the idea that only people who live in the scouler is a false idea.

  24. blestwithsons says:

    This works for me thing is spreading kinda like…. Naw. I’m not gonna say it!! Anyway this is much cooler and not nearly so itchy. Happy Wednesday!

  25. Pieces says:

    I am so thankful we haven’t dealt with lice–yet!!! If (when?) we do I’ll know right where to go to get the info I need!

  26. momof3busyboys says:

    As I read your post I was reminded of a time when I visited my cousins and got a phone call days later saying their children had lice! I was in college and had long curly hair down to my butt! Scary thought to possible lice invasion! I used some special shampoo and took all the precautions and didn’t wind up with any, but definately not what I want to go through with my kids. I have heard that if you put hairspray ion your kids hair it helps prevent lice. Don’t know how true it is.
    P.S. I tried to post your banner at my blog, but alas I am still new to all this and can’t figure out how to.

  27. GiBee says:

    So … I started scratching my head the minute I read … “I Dare You To Read This Without Scratching Your Head” — gee, thanks Shannon … now I’m going to be walking around scratching my head all day long…

  28. Bethany says:

    Ohhhh….I shudder to think of my kids getting head lice. I did as a child…at Girl Scout Camp. Back in the big frizzy, permed, huge hai days. Did I mention I have gobs of thick, thick hair?
    I have a tip for mother’s with girls…to prevent lice. Put their hair up for school or other outings with lots of kids involved. Ponytails, ponytails, ponytails…..

  29. Dianne says:

    This takes me back to my Bible college days when we did inner-city mission work in Chicago. We’d be on buses all day with these adorable kids on our laps. It was only a matter of time for most girls. I somehow managed to escape but spent many late nights in the restroom combing them out of girls’ hair. UGh. Wish we’d have know about some of these treatments back then.

  30. Shannon Miller says:

    We had it as kids after we moved into a house that some people had JUST moved out of. There’s a tip, wait a few days to move in after the old tenants leave – let whatever’s in there die first:)

  31. Angela says:

    Hey, I’ve been lurking for a while. This post finally inspired me to play along. I had a lice preventive I wanted to share. Anyhoo, I think I did something wrong, as I am occupying both the 65 and 68 spots on your list. #65 doesn’t go to the right spot…doh! Hopefully I’ve figured this out and can play along better the next time.
    Take care! I enjoy your blog!

  32. Anne says:

    I used to work in a drugstore, and whenever anyone bought lice treatment stuff, I started itching like crazy! So far, my kids have never had them, but I’ll remember your tips.

  33. Alicia says:

    When we got lice as kids, my mom washed our hair with KEROSENE. Yes, kerosene. It stuck, it stung, but it killed the lice. A slow and painful death I am sure.
    On the positive side, kerosene is a great conditioner….just don’t light a match near your head.

  34. Cindy Swanson says:

    The one time my daughter had head lice was one of the most nightmarish things that has happened to me as a mom. Your suggestions are terrific, but I added just one in my own WFMW. By the way, this is the first time I’ve posted a WFMW!

  35. Lori Bailey says:

    I second Kali’s tip about the tea tree oil! We did this when lice was running rampant through my son’s playgroup and escaped, lice free.

  36. Connie says:

    So far none of my 3 have had lice, but like you I thought it was mostly for those who lived in filth. My choice would be #2 – just get rid of the hair.

  37. Gina C. says:

    My kids have never had lice, but I remember having it as a kid and having to cut my hair short!
    My WFMW is up…hey, it’s technically still wednesday!

  38. Liesl says:

    Thank you for this great place to hear from a bunch of wonderful women! I’ve read through several of the postings – and gotten some great tips – I love the dating your husband tip, and the suction cups on the window!!

  39. Megan says:

    Oh man, I freak out EVERY time I hear about lice somewhere (as in, we live in seminary student housing – if someone here gets lice, we’re all pretty much toast!) And buzzing their hair isn’t exactly an option (well, I guess it is, but they sure wouldn’t like it!)
    Still hoping we can avoid this one…
    ๐Ÿ™‚

  40. Robin says:

    This is the first time I have linked and I have no idea how to use your banner! Let’s hope I did the rest right. =)Also, let’s pray I never have to deal with lice. Although when I taught school, I was told the kids with the dirtiest hair rarely got it since the lice just slid off. Niiiiice.

  41. Brenda says:

    In one two-year period my girls got lice so often that I practically became a professional nit-picker. The first time, I did it all – washed everything washable, bagged everything else for 2 weeks, and sprayed everything down with Rid. After I tried Nix, I never used anything else. I’ve never had them myself, thank the Lord, but I do itch at the very mention of the little buggers. I also keep a close watch on head-scratchers. Thanks for the, um, heads-up!

  42. Amber says:

    I remember picking up lice from another kid at school. Yuck. Thankfully I was young enough so that I don’t remember how embarrassing such a thing can be! But I do remember having my hair shampooed over and over and over again with special shampoo by my mom. That was not a fun evening.
    But yeah, it can happen to anyone.

  43. JenJenQld says:

    Nits are in epidemic in Queensland. I have learnt over the last three years all about them LOL-once even personally! Nits love clean hair,we cut back on washing the kids hair and then only used conditioner. (The kids were in the pool a lot, so their hair still looked clean) My girls long hair is always plaited and tied back then the hair is smoothed over with mouse and hair wax/gel and coated with hair spray. I taught myself to braid and so far this year we have had no nits.
    I have given up on all commercial nit products, they often smell like dog fleas rinse and aren’t that effective. The best thing for us is 1 cup of cheap conditioner onto dry hair to stun the lice and them comb it out with a special fine tooth nit comb. It takes a good half hour to do each head. The kids sit with paper towel and a magnifying glass and examine anything that we find. Darling daughter #2 wanted to keep hers as a pet!

  44. KP says:

    We had a little lice scare at our house a few weeks ago. I wasn’t looking forward to all the washing I thought was in my future. I’m happy to say it wasn’t lice. But I will definately keep track of your tips for future reference. I think you’re right, it’s getting more common than not.

  45. ElaineMc says:

    I work for a women’s domestic violence shelter. Since we take adult women and their families, this means we have children. Since we have children, we have lice– 1-2 outbreaks a year, almost inevitably during the school year, generally during the first cold spell [when hats and scarves come out], and sometime mid-spring.
    We do use the Rid-X sprays and shampoos, but in accordance with the county health admin’s advice, we rely most on olive oil. It does the same thing vaseline and mayo do, and since you can pick it up in nice, big cans or bottles, it’s pretty cost-effective.
    Combined with hot-water washing and high-heat drying all bedlinens, sealing pillows and stuffed animals up in trash bags, and obsessive vacuuming of alllllll upholstered furniture, and in good time we have a lice-free shelter.
    Until the next time, of course. Basically, if you have school- or daycare-attending kids, you’re likely to have at least one lice outbreak. It sucks, but that’s the way it goes, sometimes.

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