Let's Talk About Lice

When I logged on this morning to type up this post, I realized that it had been several months since I shared an update (here) about the adoption, the kids, and where God led us as He wrote our story. If you've been checking the blog for those updates, I suggest you head on over to the Facebook page to get caught up. Time is precious, and Facebook updates are about all I can manage these days. At some point I will try to sum up what happened since October 21st (when I last blogged about the adoption), but since I currently have a 2 hour snow delay (and 5 sleeping children), I wanted to knock out the "Lice Wisdom" that I have acquired in the last 4 months, so the longer update will have to wait for another day.

Let's talk about lice (or "piojos" as they are called in Spanish). Evil incarnate is what I refer to them as after almost 3 months of waging war against them, both in Costa Rica and the U.S. after we returned home the end of November. Our two oldest gals never got them (thank the Lord!), but the younger girls apparently have heads that lice find hospitable, and our 6 year old must have some kind of 5-star lice hotel on her head, because the lice fought hard to keep that party going.

Over the course of our Three Month War, we tried everything. Mayonnaise (which several friends swore by), traditional lice shampoos, Tea Tree oil-laced treatments... even PILLS (if those would have worked, I would have stockpiled while we were in Costa Rica... they were, in fact, too good to be true). We have used plastic nit combs, metal combs, hand-picking, and vinegar soaks. If you are waging your own war against the powers of lice evil, let me tell you what has worked for us (finally, Lord willing!), and what I have personally been using that has kept me lice-free throughout this ordeal.


Congratulations. I feel your pain. Even though I remember having lice as a kid (one time - thanks to some play hats at a local children's museum), they were apparently less resistant to traditional "RID" treatments than the lice of today, and outside of a painful day of being nit-picked by my mother, I got off pretty easily. Not so with my children. 

After trying traditional and non-traditional solutions, I found myself standing in the lice aisle at our local CVS, scooping every treatment I saw into my basket and praying that one of them worked. Let me introduce you to Vamousse - the wonder foam that FINALLY knocked out the live lice and killed the nits (we'll get to nit-picking next). No, it's not organic and holistic and guaranteed not to ever in your life cause cancer, but it KILLS those suckers and after 3 months, I'm pretty sure your stance on "organic and natural" will have changed too.

  • Don't forget to pick up a cheap shower cap (or 2) to use with the mousse. After you saturate the child's head with the mousse, you need to leave it to soak for 15-30 minutes, and it will start to drip down the child's neck, causing discomfort, drama, and tears (don't ask me how I know this). The adult shower caps that I purchased were too big for my girl's heads, but by twisting the back and securing it with a clothespin, it held up well enough for them to walk around and pass the time. 
  • Don't bother using the lice comb that's included in the box. While it will take out the dead lice, it won't do a thing for the nits (never fear, I have a comb for that too!). 
  • Use a LOT of mousse. Seriously - do not skimp! If necessary, do two treatments, 1-week apart. We did this with both of our girls, but for the youngest it was more of a "peace of mind" for Mom than an actual need since the lice were dead after the first round. With our 6 year old "lice party" head, we didn't use enough of the mousse (or leave it on for long enough) the first time - a mistake which we corrected the second time with total success.


"Liendres" (Spanish for nits) - do nits by any other name cause the same amount of angst? Yes, they do. In Costa Rica, we did what all parents are told to do when it comes to lice and nits - WASH EVERYTHING. EVERY DAY. Guess what? We still had lice, and we still had nits. While I didn't stop washing their laundry in hot water, after a month, I stopped washing their sheets daily because it clearly wasn't stopping anything and it was drastically increasing my stress level, not to mention our water bill! 

Throughout the lice treatment and subsequent nit removal phase, we tried everything to loosen the glue that held the nits (alive and dead) to the hair. We doused them in a vinegar/water mix, we soaked them in straight vinegar, we sprayed them with nit-removal aids, and then there were the combs. Plastic combs in Costa Rica (total joke), metal combs in the U.S. (a close second on the joke front). After painstakingly combing through the hair and watching the comb go right over the nits without even nudging them, I might have shed a few tears. I knew what lay before me, and it was a path I didn't have the patience to walk... nit picking

After spending hours (some 10+ hours over 4 days with our 6 year old the FINAL time we picked) using my fingernails to physically remove HUNDREDS of dead nits, the Hubs gave me a golden gift... the Nit-Free Terminator Comb. I brushed that sucker down through my girl's hair, and watched as nits floated off of it in my bowl of hot water. I've never seen a prettier sight. 

Let me be clear - this doesn't totally remove the need for some hands-on removal, but if I'd had it a few weeks sooner, it would have made a HUGE difference and saved me a load of time. While there may be no way around doing at least some nit picking (especially if you have a child with a head-full of nits, like I did), this comb is a MUST HAVE in your lice treatment kit.

{If you're wondering what makes this one better than the "free" combs in the kits, the free combs are slick metal, and this comb has teeth that grab the nits.}


This was the stance that I took when it came to lice, which is why I did a lot of research before we left for Costa Rica and ended up traveling with Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel Lice Prevention Shampoo and Conditioner. I started using it as my regular shampoo/conditioner before we left, and I haven't stopped using it in the last four months... and NO. LICE. These kids are all over me, and the party head girl is my most snugly, so I give it two huge thumbs up from a prevention point of view.

{Note: It comes in 32 oz. bottles, as well as a more convenient, travel friendly 12 oz. and 8 oz.}

You may be wondering why I didn't use it with the kids to prevent the lice from ever starting, and you'd be totally justified in asking that question. The fact is, I purchased the (pricey) 32 oz. bottle and took it with us, but I also learned a very important, new-mom/new-mom-of-kids-who-have-never-controlled-their-own-shampoo-before lesson... kids who have never had access to shampoo should not be given free access to said shampoo or 32 oz. will be gone in less than 1 week. {gag} Talk about money down the drain! But also an important lesson learned by this new mom.

Now that it's been a few months, the kids are getting better about moderation and self-regulation. With the nits/lice finally banished - forever, Lord, please - I have ordered two more 32 oz. bottles with pumps and we'll try this again. While the 32 oz. bottles are not inexpensive, it has been worth every penny to me not to have to deal with lice on my own head, while trying to rid my kids of theirs.

NOTE: Fairy Tales also has a leave-in conditioner (something I use anyway because of my girls hair type) that helps repel lice, so while I haven't yet tested it personally, I'm looking forward to giving it a shot this school year.


Everyone, or so it seems, has a horror story about lice, and everyone has a different, "no fail" solution for getting rid of them and keeping them at bay. I know people who swear by the mayonnaise treatment... and while it didn't work for my kid, that doesn't mean it might not work for yours. Google is a tremendous wealth of ideas and information (some good, some bad, some totally wacky), and Amazon has 2 day shipping to help out frazzled, lice-infested households like ours. Rosemary smells good, and I'm all for chemical mousse if it works when nothing else does. Tea tree oil is a go-to by many moms, and I even got a recipe from the school nurse for a shampoo mixture made of vinegar, Dawn (dish washing soap), and tea tree oil that she says someone else swears by.

The bottom line is that this is what worked for us, in our situation. If you are at your wits end, as we were (and yes, I DID, in fact, cry. HARD. when they called me earlier this month to tell me that "party head" still had nits - even if they were dead), then you'll try anything. Hopefully this post gives you some new ideas to add to the list.

May your school year (and home) be lice free in 2017!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the advice. We have only gotten lice once, in Indonesia, but I still have nightmares about it, 7 years later! There was once when a friend of ours told us that their daughter (Claire's friend) had lice, and we had just been with them the week before. Prime lice-getting time, a week before lice are found! And we had gone trick or treating with them, and I have pictures of Claire with her, their heads right next to each other, posing in their costumes! Yikes! At that point I had Dan run out and buy the Terminator comb you mentioned in your post! I was terrified... the twins were just 2 months old and literally took ALL my time, and I just could not imagine dealing with lice, too. Thankfully, after several checks, we never did find any. But we've hung on to that comb just in case! I have no illusions that we will never have lice again. You are amazing for dealing with all that and adjusting to having the kids at the same time. You are super mom!


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