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Lice Advice: Mom Tips for Preventing and Treating Lice

Lice Advice: Mom Tips for Preventing and Treating Lice

The dreaded lice note from school…it’s bound to arrive in every child’s backpack eventually. While lice don’t transfer diseases or result from poor hygiene, they’re itchy, hard-to-banish nuisances that we’d all gladly avoid. To help you respond to a lice infestation at your child’s school, we’ve rounded up top tips from Circle of Moms members on lice prevention, as well as advice on lice treatments—just in case the little buggers do find a way into your home.

Preventing Lice

Lice don’t fly or jump. Instead, they transfer through contact. As a result, limiting the surfaces your child’s hair touches can help prevent her from getting lice. “Be sure to send your daughter to school with her hair UP and not long,” emphasizes mother-of-two Marie B. Also, make sure your child avoids sharing hats and scarves.

Coconut-based conditioners and essential oils are also touted by many Circle of Moms members as lice-repelling strategies. “Shampoo and conditioner with coconut is supposed to discourage head lice,” shares New Jersey mom Lorrie B., while mother-of-two Tracy H. advocates tea tree oil: “We always use tea tree oil in shampoo or in a water bottle to mist on hair in the morning.”


Catching Lice Early

Once you become aware that lice are present at your child’s school, check your child’s hair regularly to ensure you catch any lice before they multiply. As Australian mom Jakki T. advises: “The cheapest and most effective thing I’d recommend is weekly combing of the hair with a metal nit comb and lots of conditioner…this doesn't have to take long—in 5 minutes you see if there’s anything there and you can get them before they've had time to breed.”

Treating Lice

There are many options for treating lice. Over-the-counter medicated shampoos are often successful, as are prescription medications your pediatrician can provide. Many Circle of Moms members also recommend natural strategies like olive oil or coconut oil. Reynelle H. explains: “Unrefined virgin coconut oil and virgin olive oil contain fatty acids that break down the bodies (exoskeletons) of the lice and kill them.” Other moms recommend using petroleum gels or mayonnaise to suffocate the lice. After most treatments, be sure to comb out the dead lice with a fine metal nit comb.

As Michelle B. advises, be aware that many lice treatments need to be done twice—once to kill the live lice and a second time to get the nits that hatch later: “You have to do it again in a couple of days right when the eggs hatch so that you kill those as well...then you should be lice free.”

Preventing a Reinfestation

Lice can survive for about 48 hours without a human head. After you’ve applied a treatment to your child, clean any items that have been in contact with her head in the previous 48 hours. This includes vacuuming furniture, carpets and car sets, as well as throwing clothes and bedding into the dryer (the heat will kill any lice that linger).

This article first appeared on The RoundUp on March 24, 2011.

Looking for more advice on common parenting challenges?

Circle of Moms is a great resource for tips on parenting children at every age. Join communities like After Pregnancy: Babies & Infants, Toddler Moms, and Moms With School-Age Kids to connect with moms who have children of similar ages to yours.

Join The Conversation
MaryLambert93193 MaryLambert93193 5 years
Years ago, when my boys were little, their pediatrician told me there is something in VO5 shampoo that lice don't like. I have used it ever since and none of us has ever had lice, even when the school was full of it! I don't know if it was the shampoo or if we were just lucky but I'm not taking a chance....I'm sticking with my VO5!
KristineAnnJuanGajitos KristineAnnJuanGajitos 5 years
for the nits left in hair, my mom used to do it the old fashioned way: hand pick each one. you could put either baby oil or cocnut oil in your kid's hair and then, comb and pick each nit. it is tedious, i know, but it will be worth it. you can even bond with your kid during this time. just be careful in pulling out the nits since they really stick good in the hair you might pull a bit too hard on the strands. still, it's worth a try if nit combs don't work at all.
JulieAllen25898 JulieAllen25898 5 years
I swear by Lice Sheild shampoo and leave in conditioner!!! My daughter uses this shampoo consistently every other day and she does not get head lice even when her cousin had it and she spent the night!! I buy it at Meijer or Walmart for like $8 a bottle.
AmyButler68164 AmyButler68164 5 years
I am a mother of 3 and we did the battle with lice last year...for 6 MONTHS! We had to go to a Dermatologist to get a prescription STRONG ENOUGH to get rid of it. The OTC medications don't work anymore. According to him, "Lice have been around for so long that they have become immune to the OTC medications." I even spent $100 on the internet (BEFORE going to the Dermatologist) for Clear Lice which was GUARANTEED to work and didn't so I got my money back on that. It was a total NIGHTMARE, but finally came to an end!
AmberBozman AmberBozman 5 years
I am a teacher and a mom. Last year, my son got a horrible case of lice. I didn't want to use the chemical treatments, as they are extremely harsh. We tried a ton of home remedies. Then my sister told me about the Robi comb. As you run it through the hair, it zaps the hatched lice! It is easy for follow-ups as well. I run it though my son't hair once a week now that school is back in session, and run it through my own hair any time I get sympathetic itching because someone says the word lice. I still use the red fit comb to remove the eggs if any show up- loads of conditioner in the shower and use the comb. The conditioner makes it much easier to move through the hair. Vinegar did seem to loosen the eggs, but my son was miserable soaking in it. We also blow dried his hair every day when he got it: the heat helps kill any you miss. With the Robi comb (and vacuuming and washing everything), we were able to stop every other outbreak in right away!
CoMMember13611736426251 CoMMember13611736426251 5 years
we have nine children and one bad infestation everyone got there hair buzzed..I swear..most of my kids are allergic to the different grows back..lololo
DeanneTasker DeanneTasker 6 years
We found a pet flea comb worked better than the metal nit combs. The flea comb seemed to have the metal teeth of the comb closer together. I have tried lots of stuff for my eldest daughter to get rid of them. She seems to be prone to them and we are getting sick of finding them and treating them. I find longer hair takes longer to treat and comb through. Hard to keep hair short when you have a child who hates short hair and wants it long. I have recently purchased Nit Wits Deterent and De-Tangle Spray, we are hoping it helps too. She keeps her hair up everyday at school. I insist. Thanx for the tips. They were very helpful.
ChristineProulx ChristineProulx 6 years
I asked my doctor about one treatment because it sounded odd, but she recommended it: using a certain facial cleanser on the hair and then blow drying it once a week for three weeks. You can look it up either Nuvo treatment or Cetaphil cleanser and the word lice. We're in the middle of it, so I can't speak to its effectiveness yet, but they claim the eggs are killed so you don't need to comb them all out-- which is good because my 2 daughters have hair that each takes 2-3 hours to comb with a lice comb.
brandiemarie brandiemarie 6 years
Gel and Mousse- when my family had a head lice nightmare my hair was at hip length! my husband sat for hours combing through my hair to avoid having to cut it off. we were sooo frustrated, i found a website about treating head lice and learned that lice can be killed using gel and /or mousse to suffocate the lice and knits- everyday for a couple months i put mouse and gel in my hair emidiatly after showering. I'm not sure exactly how long it takes to kill them(I wasnt taking any chances) but i do the same thing for my children when there is a head lice scare at school I've never had another problem with the little buggers!
GoldieKaiser GoldieKaiser 6 years
The best way to get the nits out is on a sunny day sit outside and go through the hair in sections and pull them out.I had 5 girls I had to do this to and all of them had LONG THICK HAIR it takes a long time but well worth it.The sun light makes the nits shine.
LauraHunt2203 LauraHunt2203 6 years
My daughter got head lice about 6 months ago. I got rid of the bugs and there has been no reinfestation...I used Lice MD. The only problem I am having is that she still had dead eggs in her hair. I have tried everything from gels to oils to get them out and they just won't budge! What should I do?
NikiAnderson75267 NikiAnderson75267 6 years
my son came home from school one day with lice it transferd to my daughter. I killed everything and got all the bugs out. My problem is the nits her hair is so fine that even the lice combs don't work. Any advice?
nicholegilman nicholegilman 6 years
my daughter had them 5 times back to back this year (her and another girl in her class kept giving them back and fourth to eachother) after using over the counter products and medicine from the doctor, we were still finding them alive in her scalp.(while going threw it to de knit her evrynight) so we used mayonaise in her hair saturated it,then covered it with a shower cap. left it in for 8hrs and then washed it out with dawn dish soap it took about 4 washes and 3 conditioners to get it out and the smell was horrible BUT it worked!!! the bugs that i combed out were all DEAD and and i continued to "de nitt" her evryday for a few weeks but they were all gone and the mayo killed the nitts(eggs) and the bugs... and the best thing is it is completely safe unlike the over the counter products taht ALL have nasty side effects :)
karenyuill karenyuill 6 years
I swear by the Fairytales brand. Been using it about 5 years now.
CrystalMockKlafki CrystalMockKlafki 6 years
We have always took baby shampoo and got rid of about a inch and a half from the bottle. Then we put lice shampoo in to refill up the space. Shake it up real good and once a week to every other week wash their hair in it. I do this every year during lice season and there seams to be a season for schools to have it. My kids are 8 and 9 and have never had lice... Knock on wood
JenniferErickson57567 JenniferErickson57567 6 years
There is a brand called Fairytales. They have a whole line of products including lice shampoo, thick metal nit comb, repel spray to use everyday before going to school and they even offer a bed bug spray as well.
MicheleMinnaar MicheleMinnaar 6 years
There is a wonderful, bio-degradable product called eco.kid, from Australia. Also available in South Africa at some hair salons and health shops. It can be used on a daily basis by every child as a preventative measure as it simply contains essential oils that repel lice. There is also a treatment available to treat the child's hair if she already has lice, but the nice thing about this product is that it has no chemicals or poison that can be absorbed by you child's skin. Can also be bought online. Love it!!!
MelissaCartwright MelissaCartwright 6 years
Quit Nits has a wonderful product line for treatment once there is an infestation and also a spray to repel. I've been using it for three years without another incident
SusanFahrney SusanFahrney 6 years
Melaleuca, the Wellness Company, has products (that include tea tree oil) which are effective in treating infestations of lice, both shampoo and sprays for the house to eradicate stray lice. If you need to access these products, you can contact me, Susan,
HeatherHill11511 HeatherHill11511 6 years
Use Listerine. Thoroughly saturate lice-ridden hair until damp, wrap head in plastic wrap, and rinse the Listerine out after two hours. In the meantime, wash all clothes and bedding, and use a home steamer to kill living lice on furniture, floor, and oth
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