Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bugs from Hell

We've just learned that our heads and home are infested with bugs sent straight from hell - lice.

As a lice virgin, the first thing I did when I picked up my daughter was to go to the drug store and buy a lice removal kit. I got the three-in-one kit. It came with a shampoo, a comb, a combing gel, and a spray. I also called the doctor's office.

So we (daughter and I) immediately went home and used the shampoo. This wasn't great fun for my daughter, who hates having her hair washed. But she was a good sport. You put the shampoo on, leave it for 10 minutes (rather frighteningly, the directions emphasize NO MORE than 10 minutes), and then wash it out. Allegedly, this kills the live bugs.

But lice don't just sit on your head and eat your blood. No, they have to lay sticky eggs on your hair. Sticky eggs whose name is very apt: nits. And the nits are immune to the shampoo. So you put in the combing gel and comb out the nits. You comb. And comb. And comb.

This is the really suck part. You can comb all day. But the next time you look through the hair, you are sure to find a nit. Or two. Or ten. Or fifty. And daycare won't let daughter back until she is nit-free.

So then you comb again. And again. And again. And pick at your child's hair like some weird mamma monkey grooming her young. You have to get all the nits. Because they will hatch. You don't know when, because you don't know when they were laid. But they will hatch before 7 days are up. And then they will be lice. And then they will lay more nits, that you will have to comb. And comb. And comb. So you have to get ALL THE NITS. Except you can't, and everyone knows this.

So some folks recommend shampooing again 7-10 days after your first shampoo. Other folks think the shampoos are dangerous (they are pretty scary chemicals), and you're better off with home remedies. And you're pretty much forbidden from shampooing more frequently than every 7 days.

So what are you going to do while the nits you miss hatch and crawl around happily in your head sucking your blood?

Today I came up with my first Lice Eradication Plan. Apparently it frequently takes 2 or more plans before you have Successful Lice Eradication. So we'll call this LEP #1.

LEP #1 -
Day 1: Daughter and I used shampoo. We combed nits. We washed bedding. We washed many other things. We put things that couldn't be washed in plastic bags. I used the terrible spray that most people advise against as it can make you really sick (so far, we are ok).
Day 2: Daughter and I combed out nits. We washed some stuff that didn't get washed on Day 1 (the sanitary cycle takes 2 hours!). We started vacuuming.
Day 3: We combed out nits. I put 75% of the bedding we'd used the last 2 nights into the wash, again. I am hesitant to wash pillows every night - I'm not sure they can handle it?? I did the "olive oil treatment" (daughter refused, and since I haven't seen any live bugs on her yet, I didn't push). I blow dried my hair, twice. After the olive oil treatment, I combed out my hair with our NEW, metal brush. I didn't actually see any nits on the comb, but it did appear I combed out a handful of dead bugs.

Day 4: We will just comb. I might make daughter do the olive oil treatment, depending on how things look. I might also blow-dry her hair.
Day 5: I will repeat olive oil treatment and wash bedding again. Vacuuming will also be done. And of course, combing.
Day 6: More combing. Maybe also washing bedding.
Day 7: Repeat shampoo. If things are not improving, may also try the vinegar treatment. This is supposed to kill nits. Wash bedding.

Then we'll reevaluate if LEP#1 seems to be working.

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