How to Get Rid of Lice

OK, you’re probably here because you just found out you have lice. I’m so sorry. This will be hard, and a ginormous pain in the ass, but you will get through it. I’m here to help. Take deep breaths. I went completely ballistic the first time my kids had it. There’s no reason to go ballistic. It totally sucks, and it’s a lot of work, but you’ll survive.

And don’t feel bad or embarrassed, it can happen to anyone. It’s not because you’re dirty (lice don’t really like dirty hair). However, you DO have to work hard to get rid of it, and be vigilant for a while after it’s gone (because it will come back!! Don’t miss a single nit!). Lice is out there, it’s widespread, and with schools and doctors recommending that we all go on with life as usual, kids are going to be getting lice. A lot.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe you suspect you have lice but you’re not sure. So in case you’re not, look at the pictures of lice and nits here. (Try not to vomit.)

As a child care provider, I’ve been dealing with too much lice for too long. I’ve tried everything and devised what I think is the best way to get rid of lice. If you take my suggestions, you can be rid of lice in as little as six days. But it will need your full commitment and 100% effort!

Honestly, I know you don’t want to hear it but, the first step is to just cut their hair. Especially if you have a child that is under age four or five and won’t sit still for hours while you dig through it. And I do mean hours.

I’m not trying to be callous, I was in the same boat – I’m not shaving my boys’ heads!! They are DEFINED by their awesome giant fluffy hair-helmets! But you will save yourself hours of heartache if you, in the words of my friend Michelle, “Just rip the band-aid!”

I know you’re emotionally attached to it, and they still have their baby curls, and you can’t possibly imagine life without them, but it’s HAIR. It grows back. And they still look really cute and/or beautiful no matter how much of it they have on their heads. In fact, most of the kids I’ve seen with shaved heads look even cuter – they’re like hip little pixie cuts. Especially if they’re boys, a crewcut is no big deal.

For girls, if you can’t stand to chop it, at least give them a bob and have it thinned (with thinning shears that I searched high and low for during my first lice crisis, but I guess they’re a specialty item available only to the secret society of professional hairdressers).

I recommend a haircut in the backyard (because if you tell your hairdresser you have lice, they will set up a fifty-foot perimeter around their salon to keep your buggy ass out). Pick up as much of the hair as you can, bag it tightly, and throw it directly in the trash. They can survive for up to two days without a host, and if one of your kids decides to go sit right near where you cut it, they can still crawl into their hair.

Be VERY careful during this whole process to get those buggers bagged up and removed from the premises as soon as possible.

And in case you’re worried, lice don’t live on pets. That is the one small relief in all of this. They can only live on human blood (yum).

OK now you have to decide if you want to use the lice-killing shampoo or not. Honestly, I don’t think it works that well. THE KEY TO ENDING LICE IS REMOVING THE BUGS AND NITS. Even if you use the shampoo and it kills some of the bugs, you still have to get everything out of their hair (hence, the cutting. If you cut half the little bastards off, you’re halfway there).

So you have to decide if you want to use the shampoo (which is basically putting pesticide on your child’s head) or go the manual-removal route, which you have to do anyway. I found that the more natural products were just as effective, if not more so.

And remember – you still have to pick out all the bugs and nits. You’re never off the hook on this one, no matter what else you do.

If you want to debate the effectiveness of the lice shampoos, I’ll tell you this. Every time I’ve used them, I’ve seen live bugs on the head soon after the shampoo and the following day. The shampoo only kills a percentage of the bugs, and it doesn’t do ANYTHING to nits. The nits are eggs waiting to hatch, and they can withstand the pesticide. That is why you must remove them all, because if one hatches, that bug can lay up to another 15-20 eggs (nits). So you’re right back where you started even if you did everything the shampoo kit told you to do.

What You Need to Remove Lice

The Nit Kit

Everything you need to vanquish vermin

I know, right?

Once you’ve made the shampoo decision, take this shopping list and head to the store. You will need a wide variety of tools in your lice-killing arsenal (or as I named it, the Nit Kit. See? I was being witty in my despair). They are:

  • A good metal comb. If you insist on keeping long hair, buy the Terminator comb, which I’ve heard is the best. But you have to order it, so buy a RID one at the store to begin with while you’re waiting for the Terminator to arrive. I made it through with just the store-bought RID comb, but I also shaved heads.
  • If you want to, the lice-killing shampoo kit (if not, don’t worry just keep reading)
  • Lice-killing fabric spray
  • Rubbing alcohol, 90% solution (I don’t mess around)
  • Decent (sharp) hair-cutting scissors
  • Decent tweezers (I used eyebrow ones)
  • A package of about 20 barrettes
  • Ziploc bags
  • Toilet paper or tissues
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Toothpicks
  • Large green garbage bags
  • Laundry soap (for all the extra loads you’ll be doing. Deep breaths.)
  • Lice-repelling hair spray and/or shampoo (for when you get rid of the lice, and then your kid goes back to school and gets it again three months later)
  • A headlamp (like people use when they go camping, or mining). That was a joke. Laugh a little. It’s good for you.

Now that you’ve dropped about seventy-five bucks at the store, come home and prepare yourself to take it out on the bugs.

The All-Natural Cure for Lice

Put the buggy child in the tub. If you got the lice shampoo, use it as directed.

If you chose not to get the lice shampoo, take your apple cider vinegar and make a mix of half water, half vinegar in an old water bottle. Have your child close their eyes and mouth tight, because it does sting if you get it in your eyes, and it’s just nasty if you taste it. Or they can cover their face with a washcloth. Pour the vinegar over their hair, enough to cover it, and really scrub it in. If they can take it, let it sit for a few minutes.

Here is a brilliant idea that was invented by my Younger Son. I can’t take the credit for this. Now that you’ve got the vinegar in their hair, comb it in the tub!!! The comb goes through much easier and all you have to do is wipe the comb with toilet paper and throw the bugs in the toilet! (I’m sorry. That just gives me so much pleasure.)

Make sure to wipe the comb with the toilet paper after you run it through the hair so you’re not just combing them back in there. You may have been wondering what the toothpicks are for, and by now you may have figured it out. They’re for digging dead bugs out of the comb. (Yum again!)

Comb through the whole head and get ready to rinse. If you have a hard setting on your shower head, use that to BLAST THOSE LITTLE BASTARDS OUT OF THEIR HAIR!!!!!

OK, sorry. I had to have a freakout at some point. Go ahead, you’re allowed to have one too. You’ll feel better.

Again, make sure your child is covering their eyes with a washcloth while you rinse. Vinegar stings!!

Both the bugs and nits hold onto the hair with glue, and the vinegar actually releases that glue (either that or the smell just gags them to death). So it loosens everything enough that it’s easier to comb out. You won’t believe all the gunk that comes out. That’s why I recommend a whole roll of toilet paper… Then get rid of the TP immediately – if not in the toilet then a garbage can (that you’re going to empty as soon as you finish) or a ziploc bag.

By the way, even if you used the lice shampoo, you can do the vinegar rinse and olive oil soak (more on that below) as often as you like. But give it a day after the lice shampoo, their little scalp needs a break.

Combing Through the Hair

Even if you do the combing-in-the-tub method, you’re still going to have to pick through their hair. (Ever wonder where the phrase “nitpicker” came from? Or “go through it with a fine-tooth comb”? Now you know. Aren’t you psyched?!) This is so you can find any bugs the comb missed (they’re VERY good at hiding) or nits that are still stuck on the hairs. NOTHING COMPLETELY REMOVES THE NITS EXCEPT DIGGING THROUGH THE HAIR AND CUTTING THEM OUT.

So now we begin the agonizing process of combing. If you got the shampoo, just follow the directions enclosed in the box. But first you want to throw away the silly little plastic comb they give you, because it’s useless. Get out your metal one.

BTW, you should probably have a movie on, or give your child their DS or something, because you’re gonna be sitting around for a while and they’re gonna be whining the entire time and you’re gonna be telling them to hold still eighty thousand times.

Spread newspapers under where you’ll be combing. I prefer outside because you’ll have fewer bugs in your house, and it’s easier to see the nits in the sunlight. My husband disagrees, he prefers a headlamp because he thinks the sun just makes all the hair look glittery. Whichever works for you.

The shampoo directions show you how to comb through small sections of hair and put them in a barrette when you’re finished. Even though we had buzzcuts, I still used the barrettes to show where I left off. Comb through from the top down, paying close attention to the areas above the ears and the back of the neck (lice’s favorite spots).

Comb and pin sections of hair

Comb and pin sections of hair

Just look at them smiling away in that picture. Oh honey, it’s your first lice! Let’s bond while we comb it out. We’ll enjoy this time together so much! Grrr.

When you find a bug, grab it with the tweezers fast. They are really quick, and will crawl away and hide. Don’t worry, you’ll probably find it again within about an inch of where you saw it the first time.

When you find a nit, just cut the strand of hair out with your comb. Put it in a ziploc (or trash can or toilet). Don’t worry about neatness – at this point your kid’s awesome designer ‘do is all messed up anyway, and they won’t miss a little chunk of hair. Remember, it’s growing back… and it’s easier to just get that nit the heck outta there.

It’s easy to confuse nits with dandruff (and dirt, and crumbs, and glitter, and all the other crud that gets in your child’s hair). If you’re not sure, just try to pull the nit off the hair. If it sticks, it’s a nit, if it comes off, it’s something else. Also they are usually found within 1 cm of the scalp.

If you did the combing in the house, bag up and throw away the newspapers and vacuum the area. Put the vacuum outside. Seriously. Soak everything (combs, tweezers, barrettes, scissors) in alcohol overnight. Put the clothes your child was wearing during the combing in the laundry (and maybe you want to shake them outside first. It helps to be really OCD about this).

Using Olive Oil to Smother Lice

Yep, that’s what I said. SMOTHER THEM. I remember at some point Older Son said “Ohhh, poor bugs!” as I was gloating over flushing them down the toilet. I told him I don’t care, you can love all the animals you want but these deserve to die more than anything on the planet!!!

Sorry. Again.

My friend begged me to try putting olive oil in the kids’ hair overnight and it just sounded so disgusting to me. So I held out, doing my vinegar rinses every day and combing for hours and hours. But I’m here to tell you: believe in olive oil. Smear it over their heads, comb it through (with a regular comb) and send them off to bed. It just feels like you didn’t get a shower after your jog. You know, a little extra sweaty. YUM!!!

Use folded-up towels for pillows if you want to avoid stains, though I found the oil really didn’t stain pillowcases that much (use an old one). In the morning, comb through their hair with the nit comb and give them a regular shampoo to get the grease out. I can’t tell you how effective it was at killing bugs. I did it once every 2-3 nights for a week and we had no bugs (keep checking though!).

Housecleaning When You Have Lice

Now, for decontaminating your house. You can choose to go completely nuts with this, or just do the basics. I’ll list everything since I went comletely nuts. Remember the OCD? A lot of people say it’s more important to spend your time and effort on combing hair and I agree with that. But you should probably do at least a few basics – just pick your favorites from below…

And at least change their pillowcases every day. I mean, that’s logical, right?

Start with the beds. Take all non-essentials (stuffed animals, extra pillows, blankets, and comforters) and put them in garbage bags. Put the pillow they sleep on in a bag and use folded-up towels as a pillow (and wash them daily as described below) until you get rid of the lice.

Strip all blankets and sheets, including mattress pads. Spray the empty mattress with the lice-killing spray. If you want to get really crazy, go ahead and vacuum that mattress!

On the lice-killing spray: mixed verdict. Some people say it’s great why not use it, others say it’s harmful to kids and pets. I say spray when no one’s around and give it a while to dry (i.e. spray the beds in the morning after they’re up, and the couches in the evening after you put them to bed). Then no one’s sitting on wet chemicals. Yuuuummmm.

You have to take all the garbage bags, tie them up tight, and put them in the garage, basement, or attic for at least two weeks. Don’t worry about missing stuff, you’d be surprised how much you can live without. I had EIGHTEEN bags of stuff in my garage. Of course, I have seven children who nap in my house, but we lived without it all. You really only need a couple of sheets and blankets!

Wash every fabric you’ve touched in the past week (sheets, towels, clothes, coats, hats) in hot water and dry it for at least thirty minutes on high heat. Whatever you can’t wash needs to go in the garbage bag for two weeks.

OR if you have lots of freezer space (I don’t) you can also freeze items and the bugs will die overnight (12 hours)!! Yippee!

In case you’re wondering, you can’t drown them. They can hold their breath under water. They die in the hot water wash because of the heat. So if you happen to have bedbugs and you’re using some crazy super-heater to kill them, at least that’ll kill lice too! And no, a blow-dryer on your kid’s head is NOT strong enough. We’re talking 140 degrees, scalding, we do not want to scald our children. (You should have heard the suggestions Dave came up with: sticking heads in snow banks, alcohol shampoos, underwater chlorine pool tea parties, etc. etc.)

Use the lice-killing spray on couches, rugs, anywhere the kids have been hanging out. Don’t forget your car seats!! Vacuum the rugs after you spray (give it a couple minutes to soak in so they will die).

Gather up all the combs and brushes you may have used in the past week and either soak them in alcohol or throw them away. Seriously, take a close look! There may be some nit-hairs embedded in that brush! (Or don’t, because you might vomit again, and just take my word for it.)

If it’s at all possible (and depending on the extent of your infestation), leave your house for the weekend. Lice cannot live for more than 48 hours without a host. If anything is left, hopefully it will die and your house will be clean!

When you bring all the bags out of storage, shake out the stuff you can’t wash, then wash and dry everything else in hot water/high heat before you put it back where it belongs.

Keep up the vinegar rinse, olive oil, and DAILY combings until you can’t find any more bugs or nits, and then keep checking their heads weekly.

Congratulations. You survived. And save all your equipment so that when you get lice again in six months, you’ll know just what to do! Seriously. Remember I said “the first time” we got lice? If kids at school have it, your kids will get it again. Like mine did, three months after the first time it happened. And that leads me to:

Why Lice Is So Hard to Get Rid Of

I’m gonna get a little sciency on you here, because I like to do that sometimes. Insects evolve incredibly fast. This is why single-celled organisms were able to create the spectacular array of life on this planet in the first place. This is why we are seeing superbugs and sicknesses that can’t be killed with antibiotics, because we aren’t really killing them anymore.

And whatever doesn’t kill them just makes them stronger.

Sort of like lice. (I mean what it did to me. Personally. I think I have a twitch now.)

So the lice shampoos are becoming less effective, and the pesticides that we were kinda OK with putting on our childrens’ heads have to be a little stronger now but they’re not quite working, and maybe you put the second dose on six days later instead of five, and it was like a little innoculation for those lice.

To top it all off, this year the good ol’ American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) decided that it’s OK if we all walk around with it! They want to “remove the stigma” of having lice, so they announced that it’s really not that big of a deal, and we shouldn’t be so upset about it, and then they oh-so-helpfully changed their recommendations to allow children with lice to come to school.

That’s just brilliant. Even if kids are being sent home for treatment, they’re back the next day. Well let me ask this. Is the AAP going to come over and de-louse my life again? Are they going to pay me for all the business I lose when I have to close my day care for a week? Are they going to spend hours combing through my kids’ hair? Are they going to get the bugs off my pillow at night? Didn’t think so.

So when people talk about how the lice must be getting harder to kill because they’re everywhere, I like to point out that it’s everywhere because no one is keeping their kids home when they have it!!!

If You Have Lice in Your Day Care

If you are a provider, first of all I’m so sorry this happened to you. In seven years of running a day care, this was by far the worst thing that ever happened to me. Second, I recommend you have a no-nit policy. There is a lot of pressure for child care centers to let kids attend even if they have nits, and to this I say, hogwash. Schools have to make their attendance requirements so they’re not really that concerned if your kid has bugs, as long as his butt is in his chair during school hours. Plus school-age kids aren’t in as much close contact as they are in a day care (but they’re still sitting on the same rug, their coats are hanging next to each other on hooks, they’re putting their heads together to huddle or tell secrets, etc).

Even the AAP, in the same report that says SCHOOLS should abandon no-nit policies, says the following regarding child care: “Little information is available on the incidence and control of head lice outside of the school-aged population and outside of school. Because head lice are most readily transmitted by direct head-to-head contact, child care centers and camps where children share sleeping quarters may allow for easier spread. Reminding parents of the importance of carefully checking a child’s head before and after a sleepover experience may be helpful.”

In child care, you have kids crawling all over each other, and all over you, and all over your furniture, and those bugs are crawling right along with them. Children nap in your house, they don’t do that at school. And we all give each other lots of hugs and kisses, which involves a lot of head-to-head contact! If your clients complain point out the following:

  • This is your home, not a school. Lice live on fabrics that child care kids are crawling on all the time, and are therefore much easier to transmit.
  • This is your business. Schools make money whether or not the kids are there. You don’t.
  • You are exposing not only all the other children in your care, but your own family and any guests who come into your home, and anyone else who any of those people visit.
  • No matter what child brings lice into your home, you will be blamed for being the cause. That is bad for your reputation and bad for business.
  • The kids you care for are younger than school-age, and infants are not allowed to use lice shampoo because it will poison them. Therefore it really is a health hazard for younger children, no matter what the AAP says.
  • Finally – your house, your rules. If you don’t want bugs crawling all over the place, no one has the right to tell you you should.

If people are giving you a really hard time, you might have to resort to this question: do YOU want bugs crawling around on your head sucking your blood? And doing the same thing to your kids? I didn’t think so.

Good luck, my friends. Fight the good fight. When you’re ready to scream, or cry, or topple into the abyss of despair, remember my motto: This too shall pass.

Lice FAQ

That’s right, Frequently Asked Questions about lice! (Really, I can’t imagine a better way I’d like to be spending my time right now.) I will update this list as they come in so feel free to add more! Ask away!

Should I send my child to day care when the other kids have it?

Well, that’s up to you. How bad is the infestation? Do kids have live bugs crawling around on their heads or has it been contained? What is the provider doing to contain it? How much vacation time can you take from work? You can ask your provider to try to keep your child away from the other kids but there are just no guarantees. You can also douse your child in the Lice Shield shampoo and spray, check them every afternoon when you pick up, and pray for the best.

Will all the children in day care get lice?

I would have to say, if nothing is done to stop it, eventually, yes. Talk to your provider and see what she is doing to contain it. If she’s keeping kids from huddling together too much, washing sheets in hot water, checking heads herself, and excluding kids who have live bugs, then she’s doing the best she can. There’s no “this will go away if we just use the shampoo.” And she can’t control what parents are doing to get rid of the bugs.

Can lice live on pillows?

Lice can live on fabrics for 48 hours. So yes they can live on pillows. And sheets, and blankets, and hats, and shirts, and coats, and couches, and rugs, and stuffed animals…

Some people say they will not crawl off a head if they’re happy there. My response to that is, then why isn’t there only one child in the whole world who has all the lice on her head? Of course they crawl off! How did your kid get it?! One preschool I know of told parents that if the child had been in bed with them, the parents wouldn’t get lice because they wouldn’t crawl around on the bed. That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. If you’re a warm body, lice will crawl on you. (Isn’t that a pleasant thought?!)

As I mentioned before, if you can leave your house for the weekend it will greatly improve your chances of getting rid of the lice because hopefully any stray ones you missed will die.

Can my baby get lice?

Does your baby have hair? I thankfully haven’t seen lice on any of the babies in my care. They definitely like very thick hair, so they may not prefer baby hair, but that’s not to say they’ll never go on it. Also, usually, the older sibling gets it first so you can keep the baby out of its path. AND their hair is so fine that you’d probaby notice bugs crawling in it! (But if you’re not convinced that it’s a possibility, see the question below that asks “How do I get rid of lice on a baby?”)

Why do some kids get lice and others don’t?

Luck. As I said before, their favorite hair is clean, not oily, THICK patches of hair (I don’t mean thick strands, I mean lots of hair) because they can nestle down in there nice and cozy and hide from us. If your child is a loner, they might not tend to get it because they’re not whispering secrets all day. But if they hug anyone who has it, they’ve been exposed.

How do I avoid bringing lice home from child care?

As I mentioned above, use Lice Shield shampoo and spray, check them every afternoon when you pick up, and pray for the best. My hairdresser (and friend) swears by hair gel – she feels that if you keep the hair coated the bugs aren’t attracted to it. Also check heads if they have a sleepover at someone’s house. If you can avoid nap time, that might help, but again I can’t make any guarantees.

Can lice live in the garage?

I’m gonna say no, unless you’ve got living beings in there. They need warmth and blood and hair to live (remember they don’t live on pets THANK YOU LORD for small favors). If you’ve put fabrics (such as blankets or stuffed animals) in the garage to kill the lice, leave them there for at least two weeks and there will definitely be nothing living on it. If humans are in contact with the items, the lice will probably survive by crawling onto you!

Can you get lice by sitting on someone’s mattress?

Hmm…if the lice are alive on it, I guess. The risk is probably minimal, but anything can happen. Isn’t that what I’ve been saying all along? And I still get skeeved out every time I sit in the chair at a movie theater.

If one child gets lice will the whole house get it also?

Eventually, unless you treat that child. When you find out one person has it, check everyone just to be sure.

Can you get lice from sitting close?

Good question. I really think it has to be possible, because how else do my children keep bringing it home from school? People say it’s close-up, head-to-head contact, but I know they’re not hugging every friend at school. And my other theory is that snuggling is probably how parents get it from kids. Have someone check your head just to be sure.

Here’s a good quote from the PTA, of all places! “Activities such as hugging, play wrestling, and sharing a bed all offer opportunities for lice to spread between friends and family members.” So there you have it. That’s actually a good link if you want to check it out.

How do I get rid of lice on a baby?

DO NOT use pesticide shampoo. It should be relatively easy to see the lice and nits because baby hair is so fine. Comb, cut the hair, use olive oil, comb some more.

How can you tell if you’re rid of lice?

Persistence. You just have to keep combing through and searching for bugs and nits. If you shaved heads, you’ve got a much better success rate because you threw all the nits in the trash. Continue to comb heads and do head checks every week, and even throw in a vinegar rinse every now and then.

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179 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Lice

  1. ha…yes…great read Amy….you should send this in for kindergarted pamphlets…you are awesome. All those innocent parents who have not “slayed” will have a RULE BOOK!!!!! I am 100% serious. Also..”rip the band-aid” even if you didn’t say her name it has Michelle written all over it. Love, Natalie

  2. I’m soo glad I found this. My two girls are coming for the summer and I was just informed Sat night ( they fly in on Monday night) that oldest one has nits. The doctor could not see any lice but there were at least nits. The other was nit and lice free. I was told that the oldest was going to be treated Sunday night and again monday before getting onto the plane. So I have already packed up all their stuff toys, extra blankets, and vaccumed their room. They have not bee here with me since chirstmas so we are “bug” free. But my concern was if she is treated even at least once before coming, and I do her again as soon as we get home, be anal about cleaning and checking hair, and oh yeah I am attacking the youngest and doing her too!!, should I have to worry about treating me or removing my bedding and everything? I plan on them not coming anywhere near my room, they are to sit on the floor in theliving room, and their beds will be stripped daily and washed with their clothes every night! Again I’m anal too. any thoughts?

    Netha
    Ocala, FL

    • Hi Netha – I’m glad you found this helpful! Since I originally wrote this page we’ve had several more bouts of lice. It’s really awful but also manageable. You’re brave to be letting them come with bugs! Check their hair every day in the morning and at night. Wash their pillow cases every day in hot water (or change them). I wouldn’t worry so much about the lice crawling onto fabrics as onto YOU – try to minimize hugging and cuddling (I know – that’s so wrong) because that’s really how they spread – head to head contact. You CAN feel them crawling on your head, so if it feels like an ant is in your hair – and it’s not an ant – it might be a louse. You can’t grab them with your fingers, you’ll need someone to look for you. If you start to feel itchy, and little bumps on the back of your neck – then you may be infected. As a precaution you could douse everyone’s head with olive oil at night, then wash it out in the morning (and comb if you happen to have a lice comb). You could also buy the lice shield shampoo or spray and use it on yourself – it stinks (like bug spray) but it’s effective and WORTH the $11 to keep the lice off your head! Good luck!

      • Thanks amy for the reply. My oldest in formed me that they used like 3 bottles on her head up with her father. But nothing was done tothe youngest ( again they think she is ok since they do not see any eggs or lice). So I made the decision that since we got in to late that I would attack their hair in the morning. and then tomorrow night do the oil. I’ll let you know how well it work our for us! I told them that all clothes that they wear are to be put out into the garage and every morning we will wash clothes and sheets and just rotate sheets till this is over. I did give them a hug when they got off the plane (I had to, hadn’t seen them since Christmas.) But I made it brief! ( told them that once these suckers were gone I’d hugged them all day every day!! LOL) Since then they are sitting on the floor, where I can vaccum every morning and evening. And I’ll be checking their hair every other day. I’ll keep you up to date on how things go.

        Thanks again
        Netha

      • Thanks for the update Netha! I was wondering how you made out. Sounds like you’re taking all precautions and hopefully all will go well.

  3. My daughter has had nits for a month! I have done the oil treatments, used the Terminator comb (sooooo much better than any other comb!), left the house three times for at least 3 days. Tonight I only found one very, very small bug. All the nits were brown and at least an inch away from the scalp. Do you think we’ve almost got it beat?! Planning to comb again the next few days and another oil treatment in 4-5 days, as well as laundry, laundry, laundry! We battled this for 2 weeks over Christmas break and were successful but not as much this time. I’m ready to pull MY hair out!!!!

    • Wow Gynger, I’d be pulling my hair out too! I guess I’m lucky with boys that I can just shave their heads and be rid of it. Really there shouldn’t be anything alive in your house after three days, so there may have been a nit you missed. That’s ALL it takes, unfortunately. ALL that work, and ONE LITTLE NIT can bring the infestation back again. It really sucks. I hate lice. And I’m sure it was even worse at Christmas, like you don’t have anything else to do! All I can say is keep combing (yes Terminator rules) and CUT the nits out as soon as you see them – don’t trust the comb to get them off, even though it’s effective. If you see one just snip it out so you know it’s gone for sure. Good luck, I really do hope they’re gone soon!

  4. It just myself and my 3 year old the house during the summer, my husband is gone most of the summer fighting fires. I have been battling lice for a little over a month now. The problem is me. I know that I have nits, I got them because my little girl sleeps with me a lot when Dad is gone and I didn’t know he had them for awhile.. Lice was not even on my radar. Anyway now I have nit and nobody to get them out for me. What do I do? Help!

    • Hi Gabrielle – First of all thanks to your husband for the job he does, and the sacrifices you make to allow him to do it. (I have firefighters in the family too.) ;) If you have a good friend who you can ask to come and take a look, that’s probably your best bet. If they want to judge you for having lice let them read this post – and remember that ANYONE can get lice and it has nothing to do with your income, social status, or cleaning habits! If not, try looking in the phone book for a nitpicker – yep they do actually exist. You can probably make an appointment or even have them come to your house depending. If neither of those is an option, just do the overnight olive oil treatment and combing your hair (twice a day) for two weeks. Hopefully that will get them all. You can also get a haircut, it really helps. It’s up to you how you handle that one – many hairdressers won’t take you if they know you have it. I wish you best of luck!

  5. Dear Amy,
    Thanks so much for your site and the information. My two daughters and I got lice on vacation this summer and have been treating it since Labor Day weekend. I thought we were ahead of It (no pun intended), but a nit or two that went undetected on me reinfected us. I did not love putting neurotoxins on my kids’ heads and did not find it 100% effective. I am NOT sensitive to chemicals like some people, but even I felt sort of ill after using the stuff. SO…we have switched to daily checking, but also a daily wash, soak and massage with 1c. apple cider vinegar and 1/4 c. regular shampoo mix. I would think this is as good as what you recommend, no? Also, in addition to our daily combings and checks, how often should we do the olive oil? I don’t know how well it works, as I never see any dead bugs in the shower cap the next morning?? The apple cider treatment is being done every day for ten days and I will continue to check and be checked. I have followed ALL other protocol, so hope we can beat it. It is a lot of laundry and a huge pain.
    Susannah

    • Hi Susannah – Thanks for your comments and I hope it works!!! That’s the most frustrating thing about it – you finally think you’re in the clear and then ONE NIT – that’s all it takes. You would think they’d have to mate or something!! But no. I hate lice, I really do. I like your shampoo mix idea, I never thought or heard of that before. I agree about the toxic shampoo – it’s SO nasty and why do it if it’s not 100% effective? Even the stuff doctors prescribe isn’t. If it killed nits I’d say go for it but it doesn’t, so why poison everybody? I usually resort to the olive oil when it’s on me – because I don’t have someone who will check me every day for two weeks. I use it every night for two weeks and comb every morning before washing my hair. Supposedly it smothers them, so they probably don’t just fall off because they’re stuck in there. I agree you get more out with the cider vinegar. Also if you don’t have the good nit comb (the Terminator) get that because it’s really the most effective. And just keep up the daily head checks, I know it’s a big pain but do it for a month if you have to – it’s worth it to make sure they’re gone. I’m so sorry you’re going through this! Good luck!

      • Great Product found at Ulta or other stores and salons, called; “Fairy Tales, Lice Goodbye Survival Kit.” All natural with vinegar, olive oil, and tea tree oil. Amazing in killing and keeping lice away. They also offer a shampoo that repels lice, increasing the odds that another infestation will be at your doorstep. Works like a dream!! Hope this helps.

  6. After reading Amy’s remedy I tried it. My daughter and I had lice and fought it for probably a month and a half or more. WE did the apple cider vinegar but my little girl cried that it burn and made her skin itch. My husband is gone on fires most of the summer, so we cover our hair in oil every night, combed in the morning with the oil in and then washed. I don’t know how long it took but before I knew it they were gone. Thank everyone for the input and advice.

    • Awesome!! Glad to hear they’re gone! Sorry about the burning, if she has sensitive skin that could happen. If anyone else has that problem try diluting it more. But good for the olive oil – I didn’t believe it myself until I tried it. And I always swear by the Terminator comb. Get rid of those nasties!!!

  7. Hi. I recently found lice in my kids’ hair. One is a boy who is five and the other is a 13 month old little girl with lots of hair. We used chemicals on the boy and mayo on the girl. The mayo did not work at all, so we had to end up using chemical. I guess we missed quite a few eggs when combing through with the metal comb and not even a week later I found bugs crawling all over my poor baby girl’s head. I checked my son’s head later that day and sure enough he had one bug. I treated her hair with chemical and shaved his head. I combed my baby’s hair that morning and then again that night and the next day, I also braided her hair in little bitty braids. I wonder if this will help as far as the braids. The problem is now, my head has been incredibily itchy so I treated myself. Unfortunately I do not have anyone who can comb my hair for me and I have verrry long hair. Almost to the middle of my back. I combed my hair for almost 2 hours and at first found nothing, but then I found three bugs that came out on the metal comb. My question is if I only found three do you think that there are more on me? I am a single mom so I can not afford to by shampoo. I feel like I still have lice and I need to know what is the cheapest way to get rid of it. Vegetable oil? Will this work? Also should I continue to combing my hair every single day? What about my kids? I have also washed every single blanket we own and sprayed the beds and pillows with the spray. Help me please.

    • Hi Jessica – OLIVE OIL. It will probably be a challenge with your long hair. But put it on every night until the bugs are gone from everyone’s hair. Really coat the area near your scalp, the rest you don’t have to worry about as much (they need body heat to live). Check the kids every day. If your son doesn’t have any more, he’s probably clean but check him daily anyway. They need about 1 to 2 cm of hair to attach to, so if it’s very short they can’t lay eggs. If you’re finding live bugs there are probably nits on your hair. Get the Terminator comb (link above). That might be hard to get through long hair, there may be other style combs out there to help. Also comb it through with the olive oil still in, that makes it smoother. You can feel them crawling so if you feel something like an ant crawling on your skin, it’s probably a bug. There are nitpickers you can hire, but of course they cost money. You could ask your kids’ school nurse or your doctor’s office if they’d be willing to check your head. Once you wash & spray the blankets they *should* be OK, but do change pillowcases every day. Don’t forget to spray the car seats. And check if they’re picking it up at school or day care. Good luck! :(

  8. I have had lice for months (since June and it is now October) and I am sick of them. We have literally tried everything. I would love to sit down every day and get my hair combed but my mother is too lazy and won’t comb my hair more than once. I don’t know what else to do, please help!

    • Hi Renee – I’m sorry it took me a while to get back to you, I’ve been sick. Get some olive oil, if you can, and rub it into your hair really well, especially on the scalp, every night before you go to sleep. If you have a comb, run it through your hair when you wake up (before washing off the olive oil). Then comb again before bed, put the olive oil on, and keep doing that for about 12 days. I know it’s a lot of work but it’s the best self-treatment I’ve found for lice. I’m sorry you’re not getting more support. I hope you can find someone who will help you during this time. :( Hang in there!

  9. My daughter has had lice for about a month! She got it from a friend, who my daughter thinks still has it (like a lot of nits and she keeps scratching her head in school, according to my daughter). We THOUGHT we got rid of it but it turns out she found one this morning! We’ve done the RID treatment, but it obviously didn’t do anything. Also, she has hair down to her back, and its very thick. She REFUSES to cut her hair. I need the best way to get it out of her hair, fast! should i try olive oil?

    • Yes!! Every night, rub it into her scalp. In the morning, before you wash her hair, comb it through with a lice comb. Do that for about two weeks. You can also try a hair stylist’s thinning shears, it cuts away a lot of the hair but leaves the rest long. Cut it at the base of the hair. Lice live on the first 1/2 inch of the hair shaft but they can move around (obviously). And to try to keep it off her at school and with friends, use Lice Shield shampoo and hair spray. Good luck!

  10. You are hilarious! It was like I wrote this myself! My feelings exactly. My sons never had lice, lucky for me. My daughter who is 7, has had it twice now! I too after one treatment decided not to use pesticides. It is too risky! I use apple cider vinegar rinses, olive oil, tea tree oil mint shampoo, & comb, comb, comb! Thanks for making me laugh through a stressful time…I like to peruse through lice advice to see if there are any more helpful tips out there. I think unfortunately, I am an expert now?! Now to battle my dog’s ringworm & keep kicking cancer in the butt! The fun just never ends, lol. Thanks again!

    • Wow Britta – you are an inspiration! I hope you really kick cancer – somewhere else – and hard. You do get to be an expert after a few rounds of these damn bugs. I’m glad I was able to help – you gotta laugh right!? All the best to you – Amy

  11. Thank you so much. I have 5 kids that are mine and many that are friend’s kids or kid’s friends that are constantly here. Out of my 5 I have 2 handicapped kids. Everything I have read, (and believe me I read it all) has helped me. My kids range from 13 to under 2. Everything in 1 way or another I can make work with all my kids. Including the garbage bag things. I am so grateful I found your page. I have bookmarked it for future reference and for when any number of my friends or family ask me questions. I will be sending them here. PLEASE DON’T EVER LET THIS PAGE DISAPPEAR. You are truly my life saver! 1 million thank yous to you!

    • Wow!!! Best comment ever? I haven’t thought about special needs kids – I know it can be hard with sensations (feeling their hair get pulled etc.) so I hope the olive oil treatment would help them. Thanks very much Megan, and I hope you get rid of all those nasty bugs!!

  12. I’d love to add to all of Amy’s great info; I have two girls with long hair and I used a hair straighter and killed off (burned) and nits that were left at 420 degrees C. That worked great. I found the Hair treatment I bought killed the lice great but my phobia was those dam nits/eggs what ever…lol

    • Wow!! Good tip thanks Trina! We were trying to figure out how to freeze our kids’ heads since they die if they’re frozen…but couldn’t think of a humane way to do it… Burning never occurred to me but if you can do it safely with a straightening iron then why not?

  13. My mom is not very diligent about combing my hair. she did one olive oil and vinegar treatment and won’t come for more than 5 min. Please help!

    • I’m sorry Eva. Please know that you’re not alone. I’ve heard from many kids who feel they need more help and are unable to find it. Your school nurse should be able to check it for you – tell the teacher you feel sick if you’re embarrassed. If you do have lice, treat yourself by doing this: every night, coat your hair with olive oil. BEFORE washing it out in the morning, comb through with a lice comb. Then wash. Do this every day for at least a week, then see if someone can check your head (you may be clear at this point). If you can’t find someone to check your head, repeat the olive oil/combing process for two weeks and you should be clean. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this! Best of luck!

  14. I have lice, this helped alot….but one issue…
    i cant afford to miss school . so if i do the olive oil treatment…how would i get it off in the morning? please help .

    • Hi Sarah – It comes off in the shower, just shampoo it normally. If you have a lice comb use it before you wash your hair and try to get some out while the oil is on the hair – it makes combing much easier. Good luck!

    • Probably because your scalp just gets wrecked – it’s the combination of whatever products you used to get rid of the lice, all the extra shampoos, and all the combing. Which stinks because then your head itches from the dandruff and you’re paranoid it’s lice! Hope you’re in the clear.

  15. Hi Amy, Just discovered we have lice. I went right out and bought the pesticide treatment before doing any online research. We used the RID shampoo product yesterday along with the nit comb (the good metal comb not the plastic one in the box!). Within a few hours my son and I could feel a crawling sensation again. I felt very defeated so last night I checked online and found a line of products called Clearlice. Have you tried any of these? I went ahead and purchased the whole product line and I can’t wait to try them. I found your site this morning and now I am nervous that I may have wasted money. I just keep asking myself “if the product is effective why aren’t more people writing about it?” Meanwhile we will just keep nit-picking and doing laundry until the Clearlice arrives. Thank you for all of your site and for sharing your knowledge!!

    • Hi Sherry – No I haven’t heard of that one, but don’t fret – if you already paid for it, might as well use it! I would be interested to hear if it does work, if you feel like writing back. Just remember the important part of getting rid of all the nits. You will definitely feel creepy-crawly for a while. Like I say in the piece, no matter what method you choose, you never kill them all on the first go-round. They’re very good at hiding and clinging on, that’s how they survive. To this day (been lice-free for a long time, thank God!), if I even feel the slightest motion on my head I get the willies!! I still have my combs and use them occasionally just to check! Best of luck!

  16. Hi! I just found out that I have lice….I actually had someone come to the house to do a treatment basically because I have no one to comb my hair for me. They gave me after care treatment guidelines but all it says to comb my hair with the comb (I have the one you mention). However, what can I do rather than just combing it?! Thanks!

    • Hi Heather – I haven’t heard alot of feedback about home treatments and nit-pickers but for the most part I think they’re pretty effective. If you want to really be sure and do an easy method, just rub in the olive oil at night for about a week, and do keep combing. You can always go to a hairdresser and ask them to check you out – they’re usually willing to help. (As long as you let them know first!!) Good luck with it!

  17. Hi I just found out that my 2yr old daughter has lice. So we have cut her hair not all of it but enough to see the scalp I think I have it as well. What I was thinking of doing is going bald and my baby as well even though we love her curls I think they gotta go and my wifes also. My concern is can lice live in other places other than your head. we dont mind going bald because my little nephew has cancer and I was thinking of going bald for him. Thanks

    • Awww….oh my goodness I send all my thoughts and prayers to him. What an awesome gesture of support. If you don’t want to be TOTALLY *bald* you can leave about 1/3 inch of hair, a tight crewcut on a man looks OK! I hope your girls are OK with it! Though I may be too late…either way if you’re in it for a good cause why not. On where they can live, it is said that they don’t leave a warm body unless it’s to crawl onto another one. However, just to be safe I think it’s a good idea to use lice-killing spray on fabrics where your head rests, such as couches and car seats. Wash pillow cases in hot water and change them daily. If you’re in a freezing cold place like we are right now (artic cold wave!) put the pillows in the garage, attic, or someplace where they’ll freeze all day. Lice can’t survive freezing. Do this with hats and scarves too! Soak your combs overnight in alcohol as well. Bless you all.

  18. Thanks soo much! I am 12, and my family of six(yes six) children got lice, and two of them are three! It is the most nasty feeling to have BUGS in your hair. I am constantly paranoid now! This article helped .. We got it again! Oh my. It never ends.

      • Wow Sydney, you are very well-spoken for a 12-year-old! I do hope you got some good information from this post. You can also just get a nice short bob or cropped haircut without having to totally shave your head. It helps with the combing to have much shorter hair. I really hope you are ALL able to get rid of it – it’s so hard with so many warm little heads that bugs love. I know, gross. Good luck!

  19. Hi Amy,
    My name is Rebecca and I have 3 kids ages-13, 4 and 2 who was told by my doctor that they have lice on Saturday, February 2nd.
    I also was seen just by my husband and he also told me I have lice.
    I did not know about your website so, I bought them Rid and used it on them on Saturday.
    I also shaved my sons hair after buying clippers.
    I used Rid on myself and used the olive oil treatment twice-without the tree oil though and for an hour not 8. I did not know about the 8 hours needed until now.
    I also vacuumed every room everyday since last Saturday and swept and vacuumed too.
    I washed every sheet and pillow and blanket too everyday since Saturday.
    I did not take out though yesterdays vacum in the trash.
    I also had my car cleaned.

    Though today, I see eggs still and have been itching alot here at work.
    The eggs do come out easy and are not stuck from what I see.
    What else can I do?

    What can I do for my boys still the olive oil treatment @ night? Also, what about my 13 year old who has medium length hair? Should I have her do the olive oil treatment too and for how long? She is in the 8th grade and was mad that I asked the doctor about this. This is our first ever lice episode.
    Lastly, my 4 year old and 2 year old sleeps with my husband and I the majority of the time and always when my husband is @ work (he works nights)

    I am tired of this and want to cry.
    Thank you,
    Rebecca

    • Rebecca, I know just how you feel. It is exhausting and depressing, but you will get through it. Sounds like you’re doing everything right. Just keep checking heads every day for nits. If it comes out easily, it’s probably dandruff from the extra beating your scalp is taking. But the only cure is getting rid of EVERY nit, because if just one hatches you’re back to square 1. One louse can lay about 14 eggs/day, that’s why it spreads so quickly. The worst part is they come ready to lay eggs! No breeding necessary! Jerks. if your daughter doesn’t want to cut her hair any shorter (a bob really works) just keep up the olive oil for two weeks, overnight, combing the hair with a GOOD nit comb every morning before you rinse it out. I haven’t tried tea tree oil so I don’t know its effectiveness, but the oil is what gets them – they can’t grip the hair follicle. Also it smothers them. Best of luck, I know it’s awful but this too shall pass!

  20. Amy, quick question. I have been treating and combing for 9 days on my two daughters. I’ ve been keeping a log and the number of nits have went down, but still finding or combing out at least 1 or 2 nits each day. My husband says I’m winning the battle but I’m not sure what this means. Is this normal? When will my count start being 0?

    • Keep it up Kendra! This is the trickiest part. It’s just too easy to overlook nits because they’re so tiny. Winning the battle, yes, because you got most of them out. But all it takes is that one last nit to start the cycle all over again – that’s why it’s so hard to get rid of. How can you be sure there’s not ONE miniscule nit left somewhere hiding on the head? Just keep checking every day, usually after two weeks of combing and treatment and daily checkings you will be clear. And let hubby have a turn checking… ;) Good luck.

  21. Hello I was wondering….I let a school mate of my daughters use the bathroom while waiting for the bus yesterday morning then my daughter comes home & tells me they found out the girl has lice….should I be worried?

    • Good question! Supposedly lice only spread through head-to-head contact, so hopefully a walk through your house wouldn’t leave any bugs behind. But just to be sure, check your daughter’s head for a couple of days. And don’t let them whisper any secrets at the bus stop.

  22. Thanks that a big relief. Never had them & don’t want them to many horror stories for me. Luckily her school has a no nit policy too so yay!

  23. Oh my goodness, seriously…I have found lice on my kid. Thank you for your website. I have read all the lice info & most all the comments. My children are biracial, (black,white. ) I was always told that its the super clean straight hair that lice like. I found some nits and 1 live buggy. Luckily I have apple cider vinegar in my all natural arsenal. Any info or help you can offer on combing thru the black afro(which I will trimm as short as I can, being girls) is much appreciated.

    • Nancy, I am so glad you brought this up because it’s a great urban myth that “lice don’t like black hair,” or they don’t like “greasy” or oily hair. I actually did some research (because I’m a freak) and as it turns out, it’s the SHAPE of the hair follicle that matters. There are different species of lice that live in countries where people are predominantly black, and they are just as common as lice here. They adapted to attach to oval hair strands instead of round! Here’s what lice like: blood. So they’ll find their way to it. As far as combing the curly hair, which is probably torture, I would say stick with the olive oil treatment and just try to scrub it out really well in the shower. Maybe with a baby brush? Best of luck and kill those bugs!

  24. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I stumbled on your page this morning and I must say this has been one of the most honest and informative pages I have read yet. I have been paranoid about lice for sometime as my sister has been battling it for about a year now. Every time I turn around I hear that her children (6 of them) have lice. But when I talk to her about it she say says they are dead nits and not to worry. From my understanding if the nit is in your hair it is alive and soon to be hatched into one of those nasty louse bugs. I know that these re-infestations are clearly a problem but if the right measures are not taken then how will she ever be lice free? It has taken a great tole on our sisterly love as I have steered clear of her house always as I do not want to get this bug. I chose to give in and 2 weeks ago let her eldest son sleep over (after hours of the boys begging and my sister reassuring me they did not have lice) and now lo and behold we have lice. I am so frustrated now as we battled it this summer and when I say battled I mean my OCD for sure kicked in. I was washing and cleaning everything even toys I was sterilizing in hot bleach water as I was paranoid that a bug may have fallen in the toy box. I know they will die after 48 hours but I just wanted to make sure. After a month of my OCD checking and combing and cleaning virtually everything they were gone. Now sadly I have to say they are back for a sequel. I am so discouraged and cannot wait till I no longer see any nits. I am definitely trying this more natural remedy as the lice treatments from the pharmacy I found were so harsh as my eldest was screaming the entire time until I rinsed it out. So I am hoping this is far more effective and we get it gone asap.

    • And the winner of the longest comment ever on my website is….Krista!!! Thanks for your kind words. I can see how stressed out you are about this, and I’m sorry it has caused so much trouble in your life. I can tell you what my doctor said, which is that lice are disgusting and a nuisance, but they’re not life-threatening. So we can be really PO’d, but there’s no need to panic. ;) You’re right that nits on hair are NOT dead, and that’s precisely why your sister can’t get rid of them. I’ve heard of professional nitpickers who can clean a whole head in one day. It might be worth it for her to look into this. I also understand how hard it can be with getting crazy about cleaning. Know that lice won’t willingly leave a warm head, and they can’t live on a hard plastic surface, so it’s really doubtful that they’re on toys. Think fabrics, because they’re more likely to be where your head is, and make sure to use lice-killing spray on them (such as car seats or couches). Wash the pillow cases every day. But really, know the main problem is the bugs and nits on the head, and keep checking every day for two weeks until you don’t find ANY nits. Best of luck!

  25. I found your lecture better than any I’ve researched on the Web, and I’ve read them all! Atleast that’s how I feel.. My children are mixed, I am white and my husband is black and this whole time everyone’s been telling me they can’t lice in don’t have to worry because lice don’t like the thick and oily… Well they got it! Which means I got it! I did the shampoo treatment, combed, the next day I did a mayonnaise treatment over nite combed again.. I thought they were gone but tonite, which has been about two weeks since initial breakout, I foundal nits and one bug in my daughters hair, we did a family check and found I also still have it.. So I opted to do the mayonnaise treatment over nite again and plan to comb and vinegar rinse in the morning. I thought I was very vigilant, I mean I went through three cans of spray! I just finished washing everything and unloading the bags. So now what, rebag and rewash everything? Do I need to go as far as unloading dressers and closets? What about the people in the home that weren’t infected, do their clothes, dressers, closets need bagged? If I killed all the bugs the first time and just missed a few nits that just started hatching is it still necessary to all of that rehashing again? The first time I only found 2 or 3 actual bugs in our heads, same as this time. So does this mean I’m catching it early? The nits can’t spread right, just the bugs!? I’m frustrated and grossed out and I felt like it had it under control and I obviously don’t! Do I need to be washing curtains and all that stuff too?? Help lol i promise I’m not crazy just incredibly grossed out!!

    • I understand – grossed out and stressed out! Lice is so frustrating. The biggest myth is that the nits are dead – they are NOT dead, on the contrary they are very much alive and waiting to hatch. If you want to get rid of lice, get rid of EVERY nit on their heads. That will mean combing through every night for about two weeks to make sure you haven’t missed any. I say two weeks because in case you did miss one, that’s how long they take to hatch and you’ll begin to see bugs. Also it’s a myth that they won’t go on black/oily hair. It is easier for them to go on straight hair because of the shape of the hair strand (oval vs. round), not the amount of grease. But they will go on other types of hair, and especially if your kids are mixed their hair is probably not totally oval. You don’t have to clean curtains! Concentrate on places where their heads go. Washing sheets and pillow cases in hot water kills any bugs that may be on them. Put hats and scarves in the freezer overnight to kill bugs. Soak brushes and combs overnight in alcohol. But in general, lice don’t like to leave warm bodies (they can’t survive without the heat and food) so they will stay where the bodies are. If you have car seats spray them with the spray, and maybe couches, but other than that just focus on getting those nits out. People who aren’t infected – just check their hair every few days until you’re sure the bugs are gone. Don’t worry about clothes in drawers – the bugs will die if they are away from the heat of a body for more than 48 hours. You are catching it early if there are only 2-3 bugs, so you’re doing pretty good (I’ve seen kids with 50 bugs on their heads!). Good luck!

      • Thank you! I have one more question, do you think it’s necessary to cut our hair if we don’t have bugs, just nits?

      • I would cut out the strands of hair that have nits on them. If you’ve tried a good lice comb and it’s not taking them off, then just go through the hair and snip those strands out. Then bag that up and throw away the hair with nits OUTSIDE of the house – in an outdoor, covered trash bin. No nits – no lice! :)

    • she didn’t like the smell but it got rid of it. Remember to wash all bedding in hot water and dry throw pilolws in dryer bag up stuffed animals or throw in dryer as well Vaccum everything.While working at a daycare years ago I got it from one of the kids. they go after clean healthy hair. my hair was waist length and I never used anything in it but shampoo and conditioner. I used nix then took a bunch of vaseline and worked it in. put wrapped plastic wrap around my head to trap in the heat. cleaned the entire house then rewashed my hair. I kept using the little comb on to get rid of everything. the vaseline and comb worked better than the nix. after that while working with the kids I used gel or hairspray everyday. sounds crazy but I wasn’t about to get those things again. I had one parent who I had repeatedly sent their child home actually try sending their child to the daycare with the stuff still in their hair. I of course chewed them out and told them they were to take him home and wash it out before it blinded the poor baby. (2yrs old) sometimes you just got to wonder.Good luck on getting rid of those buggers!

  26. Washing baby oil out of hair is much easier if you work the shampoo in before you wet the hair. So basicly go to the sink, scrub your hair with shampoo, then turn the water on and rinse. Ive noticed claryfying or deep cleansing shampoo work the best.

    • That is a really helpful tip…thanks for sharing. Had to shampoo 4 times and hair still felt bit yuk afterwards.

  27. Question… and maybe it has already been asked, but… If you can leave your house for 48 hours and the bugs die… why would you need to leave the bags of “stuff” with no host in the garage/attic for two weeks?

    • Hi Crissy – It’s a valid question! It’s sort of the old-fashioned way of doing things. I think it’s because without a host a live bug will die in 48 hours, but a nit can live longer. So if you’ve put in the effort to bag stuff up, why not leave it there just to be safe. Also if you can freeze items it will kill everything (bugs and nits) faster. The first time we dealt with lice I left everything in the bags for two weeks, but after that I just did the other recommendations and we were fine (granted the infestations got smaller as I figured out what to look for!).

    • we have been using these for 3 years now. daughter and i both use both have waist legnth hair. we use the shampoo and spray leave in conditioner every morning on hair neck and a little on clothing before school also on hats that go to school we also spray coat and back pack once a week. I have had students with lice and daughters class has had them and we have been clean so far. i do check our hair every night just to be sure. product is very sensative skin friendly for us. keep in mind nothing is be 100% effective against lice also make sure kids are not putting their hats on a rack to dry with others lice can come home on anything. GOOD LUCK

  28. Wow, this was great, I have been treating my girls (we have 3 girls and 3 boys) The boys all have short hair, and I am sure that is why they don’t have the issue. but it seems like we are in the clear for 2 to 4 weeks and then boomo, one of them have it again! Even I was blessed with the damn little things!! When we goto bed at night with the olive oil on we use a plastic bag from a store to wrap our heads in to keep the oil off things and contain the dead nits or if any get out of the hair, in the morning be ready to gag at the dead lice sticking to the bag from the olive oil. Here is my question, what is the incubation time for eggs, and can they go into a hibernation type phase if they are off the human body? I have not been able to find this anywhere, the reason I am asking is because we have this huge smurfette doll that has been banished outside in cold weather and tried to wrap her in plastic, but it seems to me that when she is returned to their room, whomever handles her ends up with lice with in 24 hours of touching this doll. I think I should throw her out but my hubby says no, because we had her out in the PA winter for 8 weeks and it was below freezing on many days.

    • Oops sorry it’s been a busy week! As far as I know nits can’t hibernate. They will freeze or bake to death after two weeks, that’s why everyone recommends putting everything in the garage in bags for two weeks (or basement, etc). It could just be coincidence, or maybe Smurfette is haaaauuuuunted… ;) But it can’t hurt to look into that, there are some good sites like http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/ and http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lice/DS00368. The question often comes up as to why we should bother bagging things, and that’s the reason. The nits can live for 10-12 days without being on a human host. You can always check her hair too! Good luck.

      • Just an update and thank you! I have found that the eggs can survive up to 30 days not on a host, there is like a cyst period where if the conditions are not met, the eggs will “sleep”. In any case, now that school is out the nit problem has gone with the last of my treatments…which we carried into the first 2 weeks of summer vacation to be sure…the nurse swears my daughter was the only one in her class/ grade with the problem..it appears to my knowledge that someone on the bus must have had them too. Smurfette is still with us too and has been sitting in a chair on our front porch and has weathered a couple of storms, she has through the month of July before I let her come back in. :)

      • Thank YOU for the update, Kris! People often ask about the eggs and why they should bag up their items, this is great information. I don’t think you can really SWEAR that no one else has it – you can check all the heads, sure, but there’s always a chance. Or someone in another class, whatever. It’s out there!!! (horror movie music) Say hi to Smurfette for me.

  29. This is our second bout with it luckily its been 4 years since the Gawd awful things have reared there nasty selves in the same daughter (I have 3) this one has the most hair :( ……
    My problem is she is between houses (split mom / dad) both are treating and checking. We are finding te eggs or nits, no Louses found at all yet. I’ve done the apple vinegar
    She had tx with lice shampoo … Treating everything in both homes but we have yet to find an actual BUG., how is there eggs and no bugs??? Any suggestions I don’t know if we found it early ??? I’ve only found 6 & dads home found 5 …. This is about 3 -4 hours of combing thru with comb (lice comb)
    What if I can’t find bugs????
    We found bugs last time and then nits.

    • My hairdresser said she’s heard they can “hit and run” – perhaps there was one bug who laid the eggs and then moved on to someone else’s head. If you’re lucky. If you’re unlucky, that head could be one of your other kids. So do check them all out. Otherwise don’t worry if you can’t find a bug, just keep looking and getting rid of the eggs. If you miss one eventually it will hatch, as you know… And if you find a bug in the process, great, get rid of it too. They are very fast and good at hiding, if you have magnifying/reading glasses wear them while you’re combing/looking. Sounds like you’re being vigilant and that’s the best you can do! Good luck.

  30. Hi! So im 14 and ive had lice 4 times and eachtime we’ve used the shampoo and cleaned everything but i kept getting them! after the most recent time my dad checked my hair and said i didnt have anything but my head still feels itchy!! i cant get it agin and i have a phobia of bugs.. how can i be sure i dont have it???

    • I’m sorry your dad isn’t doing everything he can to help. The lice shampoo only kills live bugs, not nits, which are lice eggs that will hatch if they are still in your hair. If you can stand it, shave your head (this may be easier if you are a boy!). If you don’t want to do that, massage olive oil into your scalp every night for two weeks. Comb it with a lice comb in the morning and then shampoo. Good luck!

      • I cut my daughters hair really short and it seems to have helped, You have to treat your bed linens, strip the bed and wash in hot water and dry on high heat, any clothes you wear, including jackets, sweatshirts etc…. I agree with the olive oil. Also there is a spray that can be purchased this takes care of the mattress and carpets and floors, I sprayed it every other day for a week. Remove all your stuffed animals if you have any and place in air tight plastic bag, keep for about 2 weeks or if you can keep in there for about 2 months, found out that the eggs can live up to 30 days! Good luck.

    • Ugh – I’m so sorry you’ve had it so many times. And dealing with a phobia is really hard, I hope that you’re getting some help with it. Amazon has great books that help you deal with issues like that. As for your hair, every time my head itches I think I have it! My husband gets crazy from me making him check my hair every few weeks! Your head can feel itchy because it’s too dry or too oily, or just having dandruff (which everyone has, don’t be embarrassed). Wash your hair every other day instead of every day and see if that helps. (Same thing if you wash less often – try every other day.) Rinse conditioner thoroughly because that can cause buildup. Some people even say that the apple cider rinse (described above) is good for your hair naturally so you can do that every once in a while – if you do have bugs they’ll die and you can see them rinsing off (shut the drain before you rinse to catch them in the tub). You can also ask the school nurse to check your hair, if school’s out already ask a trusted friend! Use a nit comb once in a while and see if it catches anything. I keep mine handy at all times. ;) Good luck and I hope you feel better!

  31. hello Amy, I am 15 and I just arrived at my grandmothers house and while I was laying down casually watching tv I found a nit in my hair! (I have this bad habit of always running my hands through my hair) I looked more and sure enough, there were more. they weren’t visible I could just find them every now and then with my fingers. anyway, I’m really scared because I’ve had lice before but I’ve always been with my parents and they’ve always taken care of it. my grandmother lives a whole two and a half hours from the city I live in & I’m really shy about these things so I don’t want to tell my grandmother what I’ve found (though I might’ve gotten it from her because I haven’t really gone anywhere this summer) I don’t really have the necessary means or materials to get rid of it. what do I do?!

    • Hi Amanda – Don’t panic. If you are able to pull the little white things out of your hair it might just be dandruff. Give it a few days and see if you feel anything crawling on your head, then it might be bugs. If you can pull it off your hair take a close look – is it very smooth, oval shaped, with a little spot where it attached to the hair, and slightly dark inside (that would be the bug growing)? If you’re not too afraid you could ask your grandmother to check, do you think she’d be really mad? It’s not like you broke something or did anything bad. I still get paranoid every few months that I have lice when usually I just need a shampoo (especially when it gets hot in summer & your head starts to sweat). BUT if you’re still really nervous about it, rub olive oil into your scalp every night before you go to sleep and wash it in the morning (combing it out the best you can, only a nit comb really gets it). If all else fails, call your parents and see what they have to say, maybe they can send you some money to buy a nit comb. Also running your fingers through your hair isn’t a bad habit – don’t beat yourself up over little things like that. I can think of plenty of worse habits! Good luck and best to you.

  32. years ago when my children were small, we all had lice. My husband and I would use the vacuum cleaner to remove the lice that is loose and then we used nix products stuff. After that the lice was gone. I had to use other products because my hair is long and it took longer for me to get rid of them. Now I see talk of mayo and applie cider vinegar. Good info to know should we ever need it again. Thank you

    • BAH!! Vacuum cleaner – now that’s a method I hadn’t heard of! But I wish I’d thought of it. When the kids had lice we were trying to figure out how to kill them, my husband’s first thought was blow drying but that does nothing to them. Then he wanted to know why pool chlorine doesn’t kill them, because we’d just let them swim all day and they’d be happy. Then we heard freezing works so we thought, let’s all sleep in a meat locker tonight. Yep, we dream big. I like the natural methods because putting the lice shampoo on your head is like pesticide. Mostly it’s just cutting or combing and getting rid of all the nits and bugs that matters. Thanks for commenting!

  33. I just have one more comment that I’ve noticed if u have bites on your head or skin chances are it may not be lice, but bed bugs. just wanted to say that just in case they are not lice.

    • Hi Jessie I’m sorry it’s been a while, I was on vacation. Shaving your head is the only guaranteed way to get rid of it but if you can’t stand that, cut it as short as you can. Then get a good lice comb (the Terminator), put olive oil in every night, and comb it out before you wash your hair every morning. Do that for two weeks and they should be gone. Good luck!

  34. um hi,
    first of all I just wanted to say thanks for this wonderful wonderful post and helping. my 14 here old daughter with Long beautiful hair caught lice from a sleep over and we’ve been fighting it for about 2-3 months and it just won’t go away. we took her to get a shoulder hair cut a couple weeks ago and then try to treat it but still no help.. :( i trie alot of the things you suggested and they didnt seem to help. some people I know told me to try mayonnaise and see if it works then go through her hair with the comb an pick them out again and I just didn’t know if it would help. any idea if it does? because to me and her it kinda sounded funny and thought they were just messing around with us..

    • I used mayo on my hair once. I covered my hair in mayo and I put a bag over it. It seemed to help me, I hope it helps you too! It also makes your hair soft!

    • I’ve heard mayo works, olive oil, baby oil, anything greasy and thick that will smother the live bugs. I don’t think it’s a put-on! ;) However, those methods don’t kill nits, I imagine if you’re getting it over and over it’s because you’re not getting all the nits out. Cutting and combing are the only way to do that, I hate to say. If you can’t see the nits while you’re checking her head, try magnifying reading glasses or even (if you’re really crazy) they have magnifying glasses with a light attached. Or a head lamp like you would use for camping. It’s easier to see the nits in direct light. I’m so sorry you’re stuck with this mess! Best of luck!

  35. I had lice in my long waist length hair and left mayonnaise in it for two days with plastic wrap on it. it is a pain and yes it is so hard to get rid of!!! i rinsed the mayonnaise with apple cider vinegar (make sure you are in a well ventilated place, as this stuff smells very strong) put cap over it after squeezing it out of hair and wait for about an hour. I combed my hair thru and did not find any live lice in my hair. they were dead!! I also find that the mayonnaise acts as a healing agent to my scalp where the sores were as they were gone after I cleaned the mayo out. Im going to do it one more time to make sure to keep them out and then after i use mousse to coat my hair to keep those things out. they dont like gel or mouse or hair spray. For shampoo i use head and shoulders refresh shampoo and leave it in for about 15 minutes. it cools the scalp and it helps to wash the mayonnaise out of your hair and the vinegar smell would be gone. As I said in a comment on a different day, I used the vaccuum cleaner to vaccuum out loose lice. I did that with my sons when they were little. Now we make sure their hair is cut or shaved very very short so that the lice dont stay on them because I like to keep my hair. Hope this helps a little. I will pray for u and ur daughter. I also bought a metal tooth comb from walmart in the pet department for 3 dollars. I hope this helps again. (fingers crossed) I will let u know when mine is done!! It is a never ending struggle as kids get them from others who dont treat their hair. Take care

    • it really works!! my hair is good to go and no more sores in my scalp. thank you “sitting on the baby” for your awesome information which helped me to make a good decision. I feel free now that I can have my hair down only once in awhile because my youngest child likes to hang onto my braid and follow me around. so I just have it up. lol thanks again. :)

      • You are welcome Amy. Im glad ur site helped me with the problems and now I can get on with my life. :D

  36. OMG…I think I discovered lice on my 5-yr old daughter’s long hair this evening (thanks, summer camp! :) and after reading the other ‘medical sites’, I was having a serious panic attack! But luckily I came across your site, with REAL, honest advice – and now I feel like I can breathe again! I am starting to feel the itchies myself too, but until I can have my husband check my hair, I’m not sure if it’s the real thing or ‘sympathy itchies’? I’m supposed to go on a business trip to China in a few days and I am thinking I will have to cancel, because there’s no way I can manage my daily combing & treatments halfway around the globe! (Or leave my hubby to care for my daughter’s hair for that long.)

    Since it was late in the evening when I made this discovery, I didn’t want to start the process and keep everyone up all night – so we’ll start first thing in the morning with treatments/combing/laundry. I’m not looking forward to enduring a few weeks of this, but at least your site makes me feel like we can tackle this! I feel like the hard part will be notifying the day camp and our jobs, to make sure that others can be screened and it doesn’t keep coming back to bite us in the….head! :)

    Even though he’s not itchy yet, I do plan on giving my son a buzzcut (he usually gets one in the summer anyway), and maybe my hubby too. Then it will just be us girls that need nitpicking, ha! I wish I knew how to cut my daughter’s long hair on my own, it will take FOREVER to comb it in small sections! I’ll call a salon tomorrow and see what they say?

    Anyway…just wanted to thank you for taking the time to write this article, Amy – and for writing personal replies to everyone as well! You’d think in this modern day & age, there would be a simpler solution to all of this, but instead the little buggers are just becoming more resistant to the treatments! Thank goodness for the internet and vigilant moms (& dads!) – too bad everyone doesn’t take this issue more seriously!

    Take care & stay lice-free!
    Stacey Kavert (Lake View Terrace, CA)

    • Hallelujah & amen! Last night (after I panicked and rushed to Rite Aid to buy a lice removal kit), I did some more research online and found an AMAZING ‘nitpicking’ service here in the Los Angeles area! For anyone in that area…it’s http://www.liceschmice.com/ . I called around 8am and spoke to Angel , the owner, and she had someone at my house by 11am. A very sweet girl named Monica treated my daughter’s hair and mine, and spent nearly 2 hours combing our heads with the ‘Terminator’ comb that Amy recommended. It turns out my daughter had a very bad infestation (Monica guessed it was a few months worth of buggies, which made me feel like an AWFUL mom, but she told me it’s not uncommon). I only had minimal bugs (a weeks worth?). Monica showed us what she was finding as the combed it out, and she even put my daughter’s hair up in a cute french braid after treatment. The rate was SUPER reasonable for an emergency house call ($75 in home or $60 if you go their salon in Glendale). They recommend a 2nd treatment 3 days after the first one, which I will GLADLY pay for again, it’s worth every penny! (PS. My husband and 10-yr old son shaved their heads and Monica checked to make sure that their heads were all clear – it didn’t look like they even had any trace of the lice!)

      For those that are not in the LA area…here’s 2 good products they recommend as ‘deterrents’ after you treat the lice: Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap – and – Suave Coconut Conditioner (both found at Target). Everyone in the house should use this before bedtime. Also I’m told that peppermint oil diluted with water in a spray bottle can be used on furniture/beds/etc.

      So we have laundered all clothing in HOT water and HIGH heat, and all of the bedding/towels are going to the laundromat. Floors and couches have been vacuumed. My daughter’s all clear to go to camp tomorrow, she will be wearing her hair in a braid and advised not to hug or come in close contact with any kids. I’ll report back in a week or so to let you know if we got rid of them for good! :)

      And yes…they also recommend olive oil treatments like Amy does!

      • PS. One more note…the Lice Schmice service uses a spray bottle of digestive enzymes on the hair (nontoxic and smells good!) and uses the Terminator comb on damp hair – I think the trick is running it through repeatedly for a very LONG time in many different directions (and wiping on a paper towel frequently, which goes into a Ziploc). I actually kinda felt like I was getting a spa treatment & scalp massage…ha, you know you’re a mom when getting a lice treatment feels like getting pampered! :D

      • That’s a really good point Stacey, I’ll probably add that if I ever get the chance to update this page properly. ;) It does help to comb over and over and in many directions. Thanks for the info from the nitpicker (isn’t it funny to learn where these words come from…). I know people who’ve used services like that and they seem to be effective. And yeah, somebody said isn’t it sad when a trip to the dentist is your relaxation time – and I remembered it the last time I was there and almost fell asleep in the chair! Best – Amy

      • PS You are NOT an awful mom – my entire day care had it the first time I ever dealt with it. So I had about 8 heads walking around here not knowing we had bugs!! DUH! You’re just clueless until you’ve been there, that’s all. Who expects to have bugs living in their head – GROSS!!!

    • Stacey – thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback! I was reading a James Joyce novel a while back and he talked about how he reached into his collar and squashed a louse that was bothering him. I guess in the good old days you just lived with it! Gross. ;) I really appreciate your comment and I hope you got rid of those bugs quick and made it to China! – Amy

  37. Truthfully, you can cut her hair anyways. Just try to cut it as straight as possible. Once the lice are gone than you can take her get it styled properly. No one will be seeing her anyways during the treatment

  38. THanks you soooo much for this post, was doing the home remedy of oil and white vinegar mixture in hair on head with bag for 4 hours and was annoying to wait these are much simpler than sittig for 4 hours while drips down head… thank you

    • I know, it’s such a mess no matter what solution you choose! Time-consuming, frustrating, messy. Thank you for your nice comment and I hope you are rid of them soon!!

    • Awesome!! Thanks for your feedback! I’m a busy mom too, nobody has time to deal with that mess. That’s why I really do try to describe the most straightforward and effective ways to deal with it. There are also a lot of great ideas and suggestions in the comments. Good luck!

  39. OntI am at my wits end my daughter gets lice a lot from school and u tell the nurse to check heads and u know the kids have it when they r scratching like crazy.the lice shampoo does not work I am gonna try olive oil .please wish me luck..

    • Good luck!! Nope the shampoo doesn’t really work and it’s poison so go for the olive oil. Or any other home remedy recommended on this page. Everyone has chimed in with good ideas. The schools are very lazy about lice so all of us lucky moms keep getting to deal with it. Focus on getting rid of the nits too. Best of luck!

    • How did it go Donna? The schools are not allowed to keep kids out for lice anymore so they just keep coming back. It’s infuriating. I do wish you luck, just stick with it and GET THE NITS, that’s the most important part. When the bugs are gone that’s one thing, but they keep coming back because somebody missed a nit. If you’re not thorough you’re doomed! ;) Hope it’s getting better for you!

  40. Hi Amy,

    I dealt with lice 2 years ago, and yes I went the neurotic ballistic route! Just read your hilarious article, very entertaining since I share the same views and opinion on louse, ABSOLUTELY HATE THEM! Well, here I am again faced with a lice contamination! I have a daughter and 3 boys. Shaved all the boys hairs immediately, but then I thought, safe from nits but not from adult lice right? But, I guess easy to check them. But, my daughter, myself and my husband are a different story since we won’t be shaving our heads any time soon. I heard of using vaseline and suffocating those @#$%^*+, have you? Or is olive oil still the go to?

    thanks, Rose

    • Hi Rose – Love your energy! And I’m right there with you. Another bug I decided we could wipe off the planet is horseflies. Anyway, I’ve heard mayo, olive oil, baby oil, there are a few other suggestions in the comments I think. Anything thick and oily that suffocates the live bugs. You still have to search for and remove the nits because the oil does not kill them. Good luck with it!

  41. not sure if this will help, but just found this online recently. Coconut oil and apple cider vinegar. Here is the link: http://t.co/zNFhmizqgk I hope this helps. Use coconut oil and applecider in your hair and rinse in shower. The coconut oil kills the lice on contact and when you wash them out of your hair…it should be all gone. if it happens to me again, I will definitely give this one a try.

  42. When i was younger i had lice we tryed everything but there is a cheaper way , Mayonaise , the cheapest one out there just put it all over tje hair and scalp and then comb it through , it got rid of mine and i never had them.again also vinigar workks too :)

  43. I am a college student who got lice after working with kids. I’ve tried shampoos and combing and washing clothes and pillow cases and sheets and hats but they just keep coming back worse every time. It’s hard to do these treatments in a tiny dorm room especially since I haven’t told my roommates and don’t plan on it. I really don’t want to cut my hair because I’ve worked so hard on growing it out so long but I feel like I have too. If you have any advice on what else I should do I’d be so appreciative!

    • Oh no!! I don’t know, if you’re in a dorm, do you have a car or access to transportation? Find a nitpicker and pay them to do it. It’s a little expensive but VERY effective. It’s incredibly hard to get rid of it on your own. In the meantime, stay away from your roommates (no head-to-head contact, i.e. hugs or posing for pictures with heads together etc.) so they won’t spread. I’m so sorry, good luck with it!

  44. Thanks for the great tips! We’ve been fighting this battle for a month and somehow haven’t heard of the apple cider vinegar and olive oil. There may be light at the end if the tunnel after all.

  45. Hi Amy,

    Been dealing with lice for a month and a half now. My first time!! (ready to SCREAM)!! My five girls got it….. AND ME! I think I am free and clear, for a week or so now. But we keep checking every 3-4 days. My question to you is, I check VERY thoroughly when I check, I have not found a live bug on any head for over 2 weeks. Why am I still finding nits?? A nit here, then nothing for a few days, then one or two more?? I don’t get it!? GRR When I say very thoroughly, I mean, the first time I checked one of my daughters, I found 13 on her head alone!! AND they were the ‘new little baby ones’ cuz they were RED!

    I read in a lot of the posts that you use olive oil quite a bit. Does that kill all of the nits AND the live bugs?? I have not done any “treatment” of any kind, just ‘nit-picking’ everyday for a long time! When I found none, that’s when I waited 3-4 days to check again.
    HELP!!

    • I know, this is so frustrating!!! Nits take about 14 days to hatch so even if you get the live bugs there can still be a nit. If your kids have thick hair or they are blending in with the color, it can simply just be really hard to see the nits. I have to wear my reading glasses when I check hair! Olive oil suffocates the live bugs so you can comb them off. It doesn’t kill nits but it does make the hair slippery so you can comb them off easier. The apple cider vinegar is better at releasing the “glue” that holds the nits in place. That’s why I say comb with a nit comb with the olive oil or vinegar still in the hair. Sounds like a bizarro salad…. Also I check every day until I don’t see any more nits or bugs. They can lay eggs pretty much as soon as they hatch, that’s probably what you saw with the little red ones. I know they are GROSS!!!! So sorry you’re stuck with this problem! Good luck.

  46. my daughter is almost 4 years old and she has them, the thing about her is that she cant sit still while i take them out one by one, she has autism and cant sit still for too long and literally throws a fit when i try to do her hair. i really need help in this department

    • I’m so sorry! Lice is bad enough without having a squirmy kid!!! OK weird suggestion but – can you try it while she’s asleep? You may have to do just small sections but at least she’d be relaxed. Or just do the olive oil and combing, will she tolerate combing? I would consult a professional nitpicker, they might have ideas. When the kids are smaller (under 2 years old) I had parents comb their hair while they were strapped into car seats – does she like the squeeze or would she resist it, and do you have a chair that’s big enough or does this for her? Think of what calms her and how you could work that into doing her hair. If nothing else, use the lice shampoo and spray. And remember they are a nuisance but not dangerous – if it takes a while to get rid of them it’s better to keep her calm than force a big traumatic situation over it. I wish you the best!

  47. Hi Amy, I have the same problem with my kids. I just can’t get rid of them at all. Im very frustrated. I’ve tried almost everything and spend money and time trying to getting rid of them, but they come back again and again. Probably every time I missed some. I haven’t try the terminator comb. I recently saw at the pharmacy an electric comb for $30. So which will be more effective? And also read that the lice like the blood O. I wonder if there something that we can eat or put on the scalp, so that thing don’t want to drink our blood anymore…

    • I love that…drink our blood… I think it’s any blood they love, not just type O. But it’s an interesting idea, if you can repel them with the smelly lice shampoo (they don’t like the smell of eucalyptus etc.), I wonder if you could eat something they wouldn’t like! Doubtful but I’d try anything once. I’ve heard the electric comb is good at finding live bugs but not nits. The Terminator is cheaper and gets both bugs and nits, but it requires more combing. If your child will sit still for combing, I’d use the Terminator. Comb while the olive oil or vinegar is IN the hair, it helps dig everything out. Good luck!

  48. My cousins where over 2 days ago and my uncle just called 2day and said one of them has lice. I am so freaked out. Mi mom washes everything on my bed but i still slept on it b4 she washed it. My cousin didnt touch anything except the blankets and the floor. My mom looked thro my hair and says theres nothing there but im still scared! Help plz!

    • Hi Caitlyn – Just keep checking your head every couple of days for a few weeks. If you don’t find any bugs by then, you should be in the clear. If you want to get really crazy you can buy the Lice Shield shampoo and spray and wear it for a week or so as well. It’s also handy to have around if there’s ever an outbreak at your school, camp, etc. Good luck and I hope you don’t get it!

  49. Love.your.page. In fact, not only do I love your page…I also love your thoughtful and encouraging replies to comments!! Who knew I would feel so happy while I sit here in olive oil covered shame at 1 a.m.?!

    My daughters school also has the “nits don’t effect learning” policy. Ummm. Seriously?! How about the nits seriously effect my life policy?! They have knowingly had a lice outbreak since September (I knew we couldn’t avoid it forever). Ugh. Kill. Me. Now. I discovered it on my oldest of four (6 year old girl with long blonde hair-which she has been dreaming of having since she could talk (I also hate you, disney…I digress). Anyway. Lucky for me: we share everything. Last Sunday we did a treatment of the crop dust and I washed everything in site (still am, actually) …. And I just discovered another 4 on her head. I wish I had found your site earlier, I would have known to do daily work. I just was going by the treatment bottle that says do it again in 7-10 days. iDIOT! Anyway. Who can sleep knowing they have lice? I’m wide awake whispering horrible curses at them…

    Thanks again for all your hard work on the topic. You deserve an honorary title like General nit annihilator or Legionare louse killer.

    P.s. I found you via Pinterest. The source of all good things on the internet.

    • I think your comment is the source of all good things on the internet!! Thanks so much!! Yeah it’s a bitch to have lice (I’ve felt your shame, LOL) but it’s not the end of the world. Schools aren’t helping, and the directions on the shampoo bottles are definitely not great!! I hope you managed to rid yourselves of all buggies. And I wish you a lice-free 2014!! Be well and thanks again!

  50. DJ – 2/21/2014 – Thank goodness I find the link to these posting. Amy, I have to say, thank you for the time you have lent to all of us out here who have been overwhelmed with the same problem. I do not know how long our family has had the lice but I do know that it has been over a week now after trying most of the OTC meds, absent of making much headway on the family vs creatures. I don’t know how any process can really work unless, like you say, one continues to comb the infestation, every bit/nit, and continue to do way passed the point that one may think they have conquered the beasts. Presently, it is not bed time, but here I sit with the olive oil, baggy method on my head. Heck, I said, why wait till bed time…let’s get this party started. My grandaughters mother is waiting at the pharmacy for some new lice med that has hit the market prescribed by the doc. Now if the doc doesn’t want to physically see her in the office, do you really think she should be carry these things around to a bunch of other places, functions, and particularly-school. Go figure. My hair is very long, hers is shorter and thicker. I will be certain to be persistant, while these things crawl on my scalp and after. I have the cidar handy on standby as well. I can’t rely on others to help me so I have become a tough case for myself; my grandaughter will have the attention she needs to assist in the process. Remember, I am the first of the family to activate plan “home remedy”. I will be certain to write back and let everyone know the progress we are making…heck, I might keep a baggie over my head all weekend if I have to. I wonder if this year has been worse than in past years around the globe; you know stink bugs are bad enough…I know…I will spray them with oil too@! This is and feels so not cool. I am wondering what the critters are doing now that I have oil and a baggie over my head….I know; they are freaking out cuz I can feel them, ha LOL> Bless you Amy.

  51. PS – I wonder if I will ever get over looking at every speck on everything, all the time; frankly that is extremely enoying about the entire freakisode. Goosebumps, yikes…

    • I learned from my doctor that you can also put gel or hairspray in your hair once your hair is nit/lice free. they do not like the stuff in your hair and will hopefully leave you alone.
      My son’s school has a no nits policy and if there is one kid in class that has it, they send a letter home to all parents to check their kids hair to be sure.

  52. PSS – Now I know why you say to start the oil process at bedtime – if I sit still long enough I can feel them at the nape of my neck, running. Ugh. Tomorrow I will do the vinegar, as that appears to be the agent that loosens the glue, of which the eggs are attached to the strands of hair…..OMGoodness

  53. PSSS – Now that I think of it….apparently there are no easy methods for ridding the pesty creatures and junk out of the teeth of the comb….one tooth at a time, with a toothpick or safety pin. I am so dying right now…I could use a couple of amens :)

    • run the comb in a glass of hot water and vinegar. it loosens the pest’s grip and will not go back on the comb as it is not able to grasp any part. Hope this helps.

  54. PSSSS – The new medication prescribed by the doc will not be available until Monday. Go figure. My grandaughters mother will be giving her the 3rd treatment tonight….her momma won’t listen to me & all the others about all the money spent on products, time, energy, and all the folks who have written into and onto this blog. How the heck do I keep this baggy on my slippery head…it is uncomfortable to say the least. I put the olive oil in a finer tip applicator, as if you were dying or treating your hair…Once I applied the olive oil (xtra virgin; spare no expense at this point, LOL), then wrapped a bandana around the nape of my neck to my forehead so the oil wouldn’t drip or critters wouldn’t crawl somewhere out of my head, then I placed the baggy over and tied another bandana on the outside of the baggy in the same fashion. Literally I am still dying here. I heard tonight that there is a large outbreak…however, how do we get the schools to recognize the fact that our hair strands (w/attached nits) fall out all the time; everywhere. I am done for the night….I hope I don’t have a huge surprise in the a.m. when I go to comb this mess out. OMG

    • Cleaning out combs in hot water mixed with apple cider vinegar makes the nits and lice lose their grip. It really works too. I used mayonnaise with olive oil and it really works. because my hair is very long past my bum, I had to do this several times and it works better than the store brand meds that “kill” lice. Hope this helps

      • Thank you for all your comments, I agree on your treatment – especially when I had to do it on myself, it’s really the only way to go if you don’t want to shave your own head!! I think everything you recommend works, thanks!

    • DJ I love all your comments!! I am cracking up and yes felt myself in EXACTLY the same spot as you. I never used a baggy, I just put enough so it wouldn’t drip and then used a towel for a pillow as not to ruin my good favorite pillow. But I remember the sensation of the bugs – soooo nasty!! So what’s the verdict? What worked, home method or store? As long as those bugs are DEAD I don’t care but you had an interesting bet going there. For a long time you really do keep looking at every speck and every time my head gets itchy for any reason I’m still pulling out the lice comb and running it through – so paranoid. But life does return to normal after a while LOL. Freakisode!!! Good new word!! Hope you were able to defeat them, thanks for all your input!

  55. Amy: I found all this information interesting, and I plan to try some things, but I have a few questions. Do we have to use apple cider vinegar or can we use white vinegar? I’ve heard both. Also, why “olive” oil. Would vegetable oil or canola work too? Also, would running blankets through the dryer on hot for 20+ minutes work rather than washing them every night? I have been soaking our brushes and combs in boiling water for 10+ minutes. Does this work as well? I have also heard that having the hair color treated will kill lice and the nits. Have you heard this? Thanks!

    • Hi Daneen – I’m sorry it took me so long to reply, I’ve been very busy! I haven’t tried white vinegar, it has a different scent and texture so I don’t know if it would have the same effect on the bugs – or if it would be more gross on the person’s head. I’ve also heard mayonnaise works from some of the commenters here. I can’t answer the oil question, I have all of those in my house so I just grabbed the recommended one. I imagine, once again, that olive oil is a little less gross/smelly on your head, and it’s actually good for your skin. Yes on the dryer, I don’t think they have to be washed so much as just exposed to the heat. I’ve heard a lot of myths about coloring and treating hair and none of them is proven to work. It always comes back to making sure there are no nits left on the hair. The nits are very protected in their cases and can survive anything, and they will hatch as long as they have body heat. I hope you’re beating them! Good luck.

  56. Pingback: How to treat Lice- Home Remedies and so much more! | 3595

  57. Great article. I was constantly plagued by lice as a child. Now I have three. If I ever have to deal with lice, Yahweh forbid, I know what to do; thanks!

  58. To the people who are having trouble getting the oils out if the hair, dish washing liquid works wonders! Also, GoJo works but the smell lingers for a few days.

    • Thanks Sara – I just got used to living with slightly greasy hair for a while until they were gone. It was better than cutting it, I look stupid with short hair ;)

  59. Hi, Amy. I just found this, and I’ve actually done the olive oil treatment before reading this.

    I never had a problem with my kids having lice until recently, my daughters 3 and has fine, blond hair. They seem to absolutely love her. I’ve done her hair so many times in the last 3 months that she knows, and balantly refuses to allow me to go thru her hair Now. Without some sort of bribe. However I know she’s pass it on to me. I have long(I mean down to my butt long) thick brown hair and would hate to cut it. I like the olive oil, but doesnt seem to Last very Long with my hair. Any other ideas. Im Also 6 months pregnant and hate using chemicals.

    • I’d say keep up the bribes!! Someone just posted about tea tree oil working too. Honestly for long hair and doing my own treatments the olive oil worked best, but there are plenty of other suggestions here. Also get the Lice Shield spray and put it on her before she goes back to wherever she’s getting the lice from (school/daycare/camp/sleepovers) Good luck!

  60. I was told that putting Tea Tree Oil in your shampoos or buying shampoo with it already in it will help keep them from getting it. Also that using aerosol hairspray, once they are clear will help keep from recurring. Having my first experience with them right now with my 9 year old (and I have a 21 year old who never had it) and NOT enjoying it at all. I too am OCD and it just gives me the “willies”. Thank you so much for all the information. I am willing to try it all.

    • Thanks for the comment Debbie! I never had lice as a child or really knew anyone who had it – it seems to be having some kind of major resurgence. I think because kids aren’t excluded from school anymore. Good luck getting rid of them!

  61. Jesus, lady, OCD much? Chill out, shave some heads, slather on the ACV and wipe yourself. Were you planning on blowtorching the whole house afterwards, too?

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  63. Great advise! I love all of the flat out true stories that everyone has shared. Thank you to all. For lice I have put dawn dish washing detergent straight into our dry hair, put a bag over our hair for 10 minutes, and then wash really good, then put a lot of conditioner in our hair then rinse. Walmart brand dawn works too. Dry hair with a towel some, then comb, comb, comb and then comb more. You will need to repeat to keep killing those bugs. Main idea is to smoother them out with a thick subtance…conditioner only doesn’t kill them. Keep on combing and spraying and washing. Good luck to all. We are still working on our’s, but it is getting better. Ty

  64. This is an absolutely fantastic resource. We are dealing with our 2nd round of head lice… fortunately much milder than the last time because I’m always on the look out now.

    We found it this time after a family reunion. The younger kids (under 10) who slept in the same room for just one night all got it (as well as the mom of one). But there were 4 college-age kids who did not get it. They lounged on the same couches and even beds but did not sleep adjacent to the littles. Shows me that while getting lice from a couch or a pillow is possible, it is less likely that head-to-head- contact.

    For me it all boils down to the quality of the comb, and being persistent in the combing, even when you’re 99% sure that all nits are gone.

  65. thanks Amy! i have tons of grand kids mostly “long haired” , i learned with my youngest grown child , when she was 12 what lice were! hate them! back then i tried everything then i finally used a jar of “real” mayonnaise on her head and plastic rap it, for two hours, after the lice shampoo and was able to comb out all the peskie little buggers easily with no recurrence (she now has two children of her own). i was looking around because i wanted to see if anything had changed in the past 15 years! i believe that washing all cloths in hot water (yes, that means separating them) and really good drying , as well as having kids prepared for school by keeping it short (for boys) and keeping it tied back (for girls) keeps the bugs a bay! old school.

  66. Well as a girl with very long and thick hair I used to get lice all the time I can’t even remember how many times. We couldn’t figure out what to do they just kept coming back, but when I got a little older around 11 or 12 I started blow drying my hair and that worked fantastically at getting rid of them and we have tryed it on several children and blow drying is the only thing we have found that works completely every time.

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  77. I’m sorry but yes, I didn’t want to hear the “cut their hair” part! I had all my line chopped when I was a kid I could sit on mine, it was cut to above my ears!!! My daughters is the same and there’s no way I’m putting her through that! I was bullied at school because of it! She can sit on her hair like I could. She is now 8 years old. Growing up in nursery and first years in school it was long then too but never EVER had a problem with lice until now. She’s only having a problem because she is at the age where she wants to look pretty letting her hair down at the end of the day. Tell me WHY I have to cut it?? It only takes one ignorant and lazy parent not to check so why should I let my daughter shoulder the side effects? The nitty gritty comb is the best thing to use even for long hair. If there is a bad infestation I will use some stronger ointment over the counter but since this comb is the best thing since sliced bread I will keep my daughter looking pretty with the lice under control and under no circumstances am I going to upset her by cutting her hair off. Not after years of telling her how pretty and smooth and healthy it is. NO WAY! (Btw, did u also know that lice can infest shorter hair too and can live up to 2 days in pillows/towels/brushes before dying)?

    • Hi Melanie – I feel your pain! You don’t have to cut the hair, it just makes life easier. The first time I had an infestation I didn’t know ANYTHING about lice – and it was bad. It had gone on for a while and finding all the nits was near impossible. I have boys so shaved heads were easier. You can do all the home remedies – olive oil, mayo, apple cider vinegar, the good combs – and just be really really consistent with checking for nits, even daily for 2-3 weeks after you think you got the last bug. If you missed one nit, the next laid eggs will be near it so you can hopefully get them all (though the bug can get anywhere on the head). They can only live within half an inch of the head because they need body heat to live, so yes all hair is in danger! And you’re right they can live on surfaces for a couple of days, so that’s why I mention all the crazy cleaning. I’ve had less severe infestations since the first bad one and have not had to do all that cleaning. Good luck I hope your daughter’s hair stays beautiful!

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