As Americans, we live in a culture of quick-fixes and instant gratification, and we’re willing to pay dearly for it. Not only do we pay with cash, and sometimes our health, but we sacrifice opportunities to learn something about the way we live. You’re already thinking, “Are they going to tell me how to get rid of head lice, or not??” The answer is yes, here’s the answer, and you may not like it.
Simply put, head lice can only be permanently banned from your family’s heads when you learn how to vigilantly check for their appearance, when you can recognize the symptoms before a full-on infestation is underway, and when you’re willing to do a bit of work to banish them once they’ve attached themselves to your world with their specialized little claws.
This takes a little time and attention, but will reward you with a sense of empowerment and will bring you a little closer, literally, to your family.
The work part is up to you. The bottom line is that no matter which of the “quick-fix” options you choose, there’s no getting around a thorough combing with a high-quality metal nit comb. You can go straight to the combing, using non-toxic, pesticide free products that are widely available (full disclosure: we sell a lot of those types of products), which will require an upfront investment in time and a nit comb, but I promise will save you time and money and the inevitable frustration of other methods.
Or you can complicate things by trying drugstore preparations, which invariably require you to purchase a second application (imagine that!) and may pose health risks, or by filling a prescription, which also may pose health risks, and still requires combing in order to be fully effective. You can also go for the pantry cure: mayonnaise, vinegar, olive oil, petroleum jelly—all bad choices for various reasons, the most significant being that you can’t reliably suffocate lice or kill nits with any of these products. Be prepared to get on your knees and pray for help getting some of these things out of your child’s hair—some of this stuff is NOT water soluble.
Or you can call a professional service (here comes the pitch!) like Lice Happens (now that wasn’t so painful, was it?) who will come in and teach you how to take care of head lice, once they’ve removed every last visible critter from your family members’ heads. Just be sure the professionals are there to make your life easier, know how to deal with the life cycle of head lice, and don’t want to make money doing laundry for you.
Check the Harvard School of Public Health’s paper on the truth about head lice, or the gold-standard of research on head lice, the Frankowski et al article in the American Academy of Pediatrics Journal, both of which are free and accessible to anyone.