Many parents come to us, seeking professional lice treatment to eradicate a head lice infestation saying "can't get rid of lice tried everything..." Some parents have tried over-the-counter cream rinse treatments, petroleum jelly, prescription treatments, and various home remedies only to get another call from the school nurse saying that there is still an infestation present on their child's head and they need to be picked up from school again. As is the case with all families, they just want to free their family of head lice for good and don't know what to do.
USED WRONG LICE TREATMENT
Due to the growing number of super lice that have become resistant to prescription drugs and over-the-counter treatments for head lice, perhaps due to myths about lice treatment, you have not found a suitable treatment option that will destroy this resistant strain of lice. Some of these families moved on to treat head lice using various home remedies to get rid of head lice which have also proved to be ineffective. Some may kill live lice but do nothing to address the lice eggs. It's possible that the DIY option that was chosen is not an effective treatment for lice at all.
DIDN'T FINISH TREATMENT
Sometimes, parents may be on the right track with the chosen treatment option for their family members, but when they see no more live bugs present, they prematurely make the wrong assumption that they've finally won the battle. All lice treatments require some effort and follow-up. Steps may include nit combing or follow-up treatments. If these are not completed, the lice will come back. It's very important when you've chosen an effective treatment option that you follow up as directed - often a week to 10 days following the initial treatment.
USED WRONG TECHNIQUE
In our experience, there is no shortcut when getting rid of lice. It's important to not only address live bugs but to remove all of the lice eggs, called nits, from the hair. Nit-picking, when completed correctly, is always successful. It can prove to be time-consuming because the eggs are glued to the strands of hair close to the base of the hair shaft and about 1/4 inch from the scalp. They can be difficult to see as they are only about the size of a sesame seed, blend in with the hair, and can be found throughout the whole head. An experienced professional can accomplish this task way more quickly than a novice.
A good nit comb will help speed this process up, but some hand-picking is often necessary. Because it takes time, some skip this important step in favor of trying to address any lice present on inanimate objects. This step, however, is useless. Head lice live on the head, not in the home. It is generally not a vector disease i.e. passed through an object, but rather it is transferred directly from one head to another. If lice on the head are addressed properly, the home will take care of itself.
USED FALSE HOME METHODS
There are many articles, blogs, and mommy forums that describe home remedies for lice that they swear work. Some may even claim that the lice were gone after just one treatment. Others may state that the solution kills the nits so you don't have to do hand picking. As wonderful as these options sound, proceed with caution. Virtually all lice remedies require follow-up, and nothing can penetrate the shell of the nit so handpicking must be done to pull out those eggs.
Some of the options that have proven to be ineffective include using vinegar, mouthwash, rubbing alcohol, hair dryers, hair straighteners, lice shocking combs, or essential oils. Not only will these options not eradicate head lice from your child, but they can also prove to be harmful and costly.
Remedies with high acidity or ones that can dry the scalp can cause drying and unnecessary irritation, or may even cause a chemical burn. Ones that claim to use heat to kill lice can only be effective if applied directly to the head lice and nits. Lice live on the human head, wandering from hair strands and back to the skin to where it feeds on human blood. Eggs are laid close to the scalp. Such high heat can cause severe burns. In addition, essential oils are highly concentrated, and if not diluted properly can cause skin irritation. If your child has an allergy to the particular essential oil you choose, you could cause an allergic reaction that will have no effect on lice.
DIDN'T CHECK AND TREAT ALL THE FAMILY MEMBERS
It's been our experience that if one person in a home has head lice, chances are high that other family members have head lice as well - including parents. It's possible that you successfully identified and treated patient zero, but if just one pregnant female head louse makes its way to someone else in the home, the case of head lice will persist - potentially reinfesting the child you spent so much time treating initially.
Head lice are spread via direct head-to-head contact with an infected person. Anyone your child came into contact with while they had head lice is at risk. Often, cases of head lice go undetected for some time, and the chance of spread increases as the infestation multiplies.
DIDN'T USE THE COMB METHOD
One of the most important pieces of equipment you can invest in is a good, quality nit comb. With a proper nit comb, many of the eggs and bugs can be removed with effective combing methods. This involves sectioning the hair and combing all the way down starting at the hair shafts and all the way down to the tip. It's important to comb from all sections as the eggs can be laid on different sides of the strands of hair.
It's important to methodically work through each section of hair and repeat the process regularly over the course of the next few weeks to aid in the eradication of head lice. Newly laid eggs are microscopic, so they need to be at a point where they are large enough for the comb to remove them. While you may be a pro and have removed everything in one session, be sure to follow up to address any eggs that may appear after the initial nit combing.
FORGOT ABOUT LICE LIFE CYCLE
Following up after the initial remedy is vital. You have to address the infestation in its entirety which includes eggs, juvenile lice, and adult lice. When you first treated lice, you may have eliminated, one way or another, all of the live lice and removed all of the visible nits.
As mentioned these eggs are microscopic when they are initially laid so they need to be addressed. Once laid, eggs take a week to 10 days to hatch. After they hatch, they would be vulnerable to your remedy of choice. At this stage, they do not reproduce so it is the ideal time to address them before they have a chance to multiply. Once you've done this, you've likely won your victory over lice. This is why we caution against solutions that claim to work with minimal effort.
YOUR LICE TURNED INTO SUPERLICE
Superlice have evolved and are becoming increasingly common. Over time, they have become resistant to pesticide head lice remedies. This is caused by previous attempts to treat lice that were not completed. If they are exposed to and survive a chemical solution, they will naturally build immunity to it.
If you've attempted an OTC pesticide shampoo, or prescription remedy from your family doctor and did not complete it, your head lice have the potential to mutate into super lice. Once they are immune, the active ingredient you chose will no longer work, meaning this option is no longer one that will help you reach your goal.
When selecting a lice remedy, be sure to weigh all the options. If the treatment is not completed, you select the wrong option, fall victim to the hopes of a one-time option, treated only one child's hair, didn't address the entire cycle of head lice, or remove all of the eggs, you will continue to fight the same infestation.
Combing and hand-picking eggs out of the hair, we recommend using olive oil to help, which is the most effective method with zero loopholes. If you take the time necessary to do this and follow up to address newly laid eggs, you may be successful. It can still be challenging, however, for an inexperienced nitpicker as the bugs are small and elusive, and the nits camouflage in the hair. If you would like to book an appointment with a professional nitpicker who will get you on your way to a lice-free life, call LiceDoctors at 800-224-2537. We're here to help!