I’ve written about head lice before and both the traditional approaches as well as the more natural ones, but I learned a lot at a conference I attended recently that I wanted to share.
First some facts:
- Pets can’t carry lice
- Lice can’t fly, they can only crawl and cannot jump more than an inch or two at most.
- Lice eggs are called nits and hatch nice days after being laid.
- Lice mature in 10 days and can live about 25 days total.
- Each female louse lays about 80 eggs in her lifetime.
- An adult louse can survive off the host for two days.
- Prepubertal kids get lice pretty easily.
- Adults are much less susceptible.
- Lice do not carry diseases.
- Getting lice is not due to bad hygiene.
- Only items in contact with the hair itself need to be cleaned (no need to vacuum the whole house for example). Hats, hairbrushes, hair clips and bedding definitely need to be cleaned, but stuffed friends only need to be quarantined for a few days because lice can’t live off a person for longer than that.
There is an inexpensive and very effective treatment available that has been tested and studied well. Here’s how it works: Buy over the counter Cetaphil cleanser (also known as Nuvo lotion). Mix and rub 12 ounces of it onto a dry scalp and hair for 30 minutes, then comb it out as much of the goo as possible, use a hair dryer to fully dry the hair, then shampoo 8-24 hours later. Repeat in one week. When combing out the hair, combing down toward the scalp (as opposed to the usual way you would comb your hair from scalp to ends) is much more effective at removing nits.
In two applications, one week apart, 99 percent of kids were free of lice. This method works by suffocating the lice with the goo and then the goo traps the bugs and nits and makes it even easier to get them out.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?! And cheap, too, the Cetaphil only costs about $10 as opposed to other products that don’t have the success rate this does. The other thing about this method that makes it so appealing is that the need to comb out the hair painstakingly every day for the intervening week is gone.
The prescription product Ulesfia works similarly, but at $44 per bottle it seems a big expense. For this product, you only have to use it for 10 minutes, and then comb it out. Repeat in one week. So it’s a little faster but more expensive and requires a prescription.
The bottom line: Lice are easier to kill without pesticides than I thought!