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Head Lice Happens — 10 Steps to Make the Nightmare End

My wife uses the apparatus to look for lice.

Bed bugs may be an epidemic, but head lice is nothing to sneeze at, either. Our family recently received an unwanted visit from the scalp invaders, and the ringer it put us through was nothing short of extraordinary.

It started innocently enough — with a trip to our local pharmacy to see if what we had discovered in one of our children’s hair was, indeed, head lice. Initially, the pharmacist wasn’t so sure. He thought the sample we had bagged was too big. But after careful inspection of our child’s scalp, he determined that not only had we come down with head lice, but that we had also come down with an extremely advanced case of it.

So we did what anyone else would have done. We purchased an over-the-counter remedy and returned home to begin the battle of eradicating them. With a 9 year-old as well as toddler triplets, we knew it wouldn’t be easy. That said, we certainly never thought it would be as hard as it proved to be. During the first week, we made little if any headway (no pun intended). In fact, the situation may have even worsened.

So we turned to a prescription. After shelling out a bunch of cash and diligently following the instructions, we were still under siege. Homeopathic remedies, such as covering our scalps with everything from mayonnaise to olive oil didn’t do the trick, either. So we decided to bring out the big guns.

And it was still a struggle. All told, our lives were turned upside down for nearly six weeks. But fear not. Should your family suddenly find itself in the same quandary, follow these ten steps and you’ll reach the other side a lot faster than we did.

  1. Understand what you’re up against. Most people don’t have a clue how tough it is to get rid of these guys. Unless you’ve been through it before, it’s virtually impossible to imagine the battle that looms ahead. I, myself, was guilty of initially downplaying our foe. But I soon realized that conquering them would require a total team effort.
  2. Call someone who has been there. This is crucial for two reasons. First, such people are far more likely to lend you a helping hand, and as you’ll soon see, you’ll need all the help you can get. The stigma that comes along with head lice is so great that those who have never dealt with them before will be to scared to even talk to you, much less offer hands-on assistance. But second, and just as important, someone who has already experienced it can help you better understand exactly what it is you’re up against.
  3. Go visit licekiller.com. IMMEDIATELY! You can obviously try the conventional methods of battling head lice. Maybe they’ll work for you. But they didn’t for us. And though each of the Lice Killer packages is expensive, so, too, is trying multiple and various solutions. (Not to mention that some of the traditional OTCs carry with them various health risks, such as contributing to the occurrence of asthma.) We settled on “Kit F,” which was $239.00. Pricey? Maybe. But it was the best money we ever spent. It came with step-by-step instructions that were easy to follow, the first of which guided us through the hair-treatment process.
  4. Bag it up. Head lice thrive on hair. But without a scalp in which to nest, those little suckers should be dead within four weeks. So if you bag up all your extra pillows and blankets, as well as anything plush, like stuffed animals, the lice that might be lurking therein will never find its way to a scalp.
  5. Laundry, laundry, laundry. Quite literally, we did five loads a day. Minimum. We washed every single thing we came into contact with. Especially sheets. On the “sanitize” cycle. Same thing when drying them — “sanitize” cycle. If you don’t have that option, use the hottest setting available.
  6. Vacuum your mattresses. Just to be safe, we vacuumed each and every one of our mattresses. Unnecessary? Maybe. But we weren’t taking any chances. I recommend you don’t, either.
  7. Use the Lice Killer powder on all carpeted areas. Our kit came with a powder that we were to sprinkle on every carpet in the house, where it would remain for three days before we vacuumed it off. Then we would repeat the process. The bad news is that our hardwoods became a dusty mess. The good news is we were keeping our carpets lice-free. And with three toddlers, it was essential for us to safeguard any area that their little heads might touch.
  8. Use the Lice Killer spray on all upholstered furniture and bedding. It’s critical to spray your upholstered furniture and bedding two to three times a day with the concoction you’ll receive in your Lice Killer kit. Same deal as with the carpets — anywhere a head could come to rest must be lice-free. Since you can’t bag up your furniture along with the stuffed animals, the spray is essential.
  9. Examine affected scalps every single day. It’s not fun. It takes a long time. But if you want to rid yourself of lice, it’s imperative to go through the everyone’s hair. Daily. Lice Killer will send you an “apparatus,” as we called it. It’s part headband, part magnifying glass. Honestly? It looks like a prop from Ghost Busters. But this is no time to get all fashion conscious. Use it. It’ll help you to identify and seize every single bug and nit (egg).
  10. Never assume they’re gone. Just because you don’t find bugs or nits during one of your daily inspections does NOT mean that they’re gone. Head lice are quick and can sometimes move from one place to another before you spot them. And if you miss even one tiny nit, it could hatch and the whole problem will start over again. Even when we reached the point at which we no longer found evidence of our nemesis, we still went through each other’s hair for at least two more weeks. We resembled a pack of grooming-obsessed chimpanzees. So bad did it become that on my way home from work, I had a hard time deciding whether picking up a pizza or, perhaps, several bunches of bananas was a more appropriate call for dinner.
  11. But all the hard work paid off. For six weeks after it began, we finally declared ourselves the victors. Thankfully, our lives returned to normal. Although we’ll be the first to admit, we haven’t gotten the stuff out of the bags just yet.

    You know. Just to be safe and all.

    visit John Cave Osborne’s personal blog.
    visit John Cave Osborne’s book website.

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