Head Lice! Parents Share Their Tips and Horror Stories
They are about as welcome on your child's head as Godzilla at a downtown Tokyo sushi bar.
For all the horror they produce -- in both kids and their parents -- head lice are not an uncommon problem in childhood. Still, you want to give them their walking papers as soon as possible.
We asked contributors to Seed.com, AOL's website for freelance writers and photographers, to share their head lice-related memories and tips for giving these creepy crawlers the bum's rush.
"During the one and only year I worked as a camp counselor, I was prepared to deal with mosquitoes, ticks, even spiders," recalls Shellie Braeuner. "But when first one girl, then several, then my entire cabin, started scratching their heads, I didn't need to scratch mine."
"A lice check turned up the tiny livestock on every head in the cabin, including mine," she adds. "I spent my only free weekend of the entire session using all washing machines in the only laundromat in the tiny town near the camp washing every stitch in that cabin."
Hold the Mayo
Susan Radzic used the mayonnaise approach.
"When I was combing my son's hair on the last day of kindergarten, I was a bit puzzled by what appeared to be small white dots on his hair," she says.
After giving him a shower, she combed his hair. But the flakes hadn't budged. "As I scratched my head, both in confusion and because my scalp had been itchy the last few days, I thought I saw something move in his hair," she adds.
"OMG! He's got head lice!"
A nurse at the pediatrician's office told her not to bother with lice-killing shampoo. It's too expensive. "Just put mayonnaise on their heads for an hour and the bugs will suffocate," Radzic remembers her saying.
She also remembers thinking it was dumb advice. So she called the Centers for Disease Control. "The woman I spoke with was very understanding and helpful. She directed me to the CDC's website and told me to hold the mayo on the hair," she says.
Now Radvic's a believer. She stocked up on mayo. "Luckily, we have not had the expense of 'hosting' these unwanted guests again and I saved the mayo for sandwiches," she says.
Thanks a Lot, Mom
Dana Hiles discovered his son had head lice after the boy used a friend's hairbrush at school.
He says he thought of all the home remedies his mother always told him about. "None of them worked."
What did work was a regular kit from the store. "This was a big relief for me, but even more so for my daughter who was scratching her head constantly," he says.
Skye Moffett says you can use a lot of things to get rid of head lice, up to and including kerosene. Hint: Don't smoke when applying this remedy.
However, head lice also hate coloring bleach, she says.
"If you do not mind him/her being blonde then I would use the bleach, it will kill every egg and adult lice on your child in no time," she adds. "If bleach is not an option, douse your child's scalp in two parts kerosene, one part water. It might sting the scalp slightly, but this kills everything."
The Lex Luthor Look
"The first time a lice infestation hit our home I buzzed my head and my 5-year-old daughter got her first real hair cut," recalls Rob Clark. "In the country we lived in at the time, infestations were frequent. It wasn't long before we considered ourselves experts regarding the treatment process.
A Family Affair
"Once when I was about 9, someone in our family brought home lice," Rachel Mae. "My two cousins and I had it, our parents, all of our neighborhood friends and even some of their parents.
Her mother tried everything she could think of. She used the head lice-killing shampoos and sprays. She cut her hair. She covered her head in Vaseline and made her wear a shower cap for an entire day.
"None of these things worked for very long," she says. "Eventually she got smart and got everyone that was having similar problems to do their treatments at the same time. Finally after months of on and off infestations, everyone was clear, and we stayed that way."
A Perm Won't Do It
Just do one thing if your child has head lice, says Melanie Recoy. Don't take them to a hair salon. She's a stylist herself and knows there's not much she can do.
"The old wives' tale that a perm can get rid of lice just isn't true," she says. "The fact is, if someone comes into our salons with lice, we have to sanitize the whole place. Try some RID instead. We can't perform miracles when we are cleaning."
Roxanne Hammons fought lice for years with her daughter.
"I would put the harsh chemicals on her hair then comb through the tangled mess it created," she recalls. "I'd get a few out, but most were left to dwell and procreate in her hair. I would wash all the bedding and shower the upholstered furniture with the stinky canned spray. After about a year of this endless cycle, we still had them.
"I would hate to know the tally of the money I spent on all that stuff that is supposed to 'treat' head lice."
"Treat" is a good word, she says. "It was like giving them an ice cream cone," she says.
She tried every remedy recommended. She even tried vinegar and aluminum foil. "To pickle them, I suppose, she says.
She tried dousing them with motor oil. Nothing.
"I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I firmly believe the little rascals just got bored and moved on to some other kid's head," she says.
Related: Head Lice Is No Reason to Miss School, Report Says
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.