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Readers Respond: How Have You Handled Head Lice?

Responses: 64


Ew! Ew! Ew! Head lice! It's a nightmare to find them on your kid's head, all the more so if your child has special needs that make pesticide shampoos and relentless nit-picking problematic. I've had luck with smothering treatments and tea tree oil. How have you conquered the critters? Share your best lice-wrangling strategies here.

tea tree oil and coconut oil

I have dealt with this issue for 8 months now. Finally I have found the cure. I saw a bottle of lice free at Walgreens with tea tree oil in it. Combed my daughter's hair out first, then washed it and combed it out again. Literally no lice were moving. Then I bought a bottle of that stuff, diluted it with water and apple vinegar, and sprayed it on my couches and pillows, etc. Now it's used in everything. I wash my baby's hair with coconut oil and tea tree oil every other day. It's in my shampoos, conditioners, laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, literally everything. My daughter goes to school getting a squirt on her head or two. Now I see nothing on pillows, hair, nada. I am still a little freaked, so I still comb her hair out every Friday. But so far so good, a couple months later.
—Guest mina

Hot water

My kids gave me lice after using my hair brush (my fault I know) so all 3 of us were in trouble. Both my girls and I have long long hair. Drug store lice kits didn't work. Only thing that worked was taking a hot shower, the hottest our scalps could tolerate and stay under the water for a good while. Then used the nit combs from the kits. Worked for all 3 of us...takes time and patience since some eggs may survive the hot water...but definitely way more effective than the lice treatments from the stores (and nontoxic!!). I did this daily for 2 weeks based on the life cycle of the lice and their eggs.
—Guest guestmomof 3 with long hair

head lice

First response was panic (shame on me, I am a critical care RN). I called our local pharmacy and then the health unit. The health unit recommended using mineral oil and vinegar mixture equal parts. Saturate the hair and scalp, over with shower cap (did not have one, so I saran wrapped my child's head) wait 1 hour and then wash hair. I did that and all looked good. I went outside into the bright light and went through my daughter's hair and picked out the remaining nits...not a lot....been washing all bed clothing and items she came in contact with. Had a friend come over and check my head. Since there was not harm or foul in doing the mineral oil treatment. I decided to do it to myself as well. Mind you I am still itching and squirming.....
—Guest au

Tea tree shampoo from Paul Mitchell

I've had to deal with my daughter getting lice 3 times. I called her doctor and she said to buy the nix shampoo at any drugstore. What you need to do is get your kid in the shower shampoo their hair with regular shampoo and DO NOT put conditioner. For some reason lice like conditioner! After you shampoo her/his hair with regular shampoo put on the nix shampoo and DO NOT rinse. Put a shower cap on and leave for 12 hours. The next day rinse it off and shampoo with regular shampoo DO Not put conditioner for 5 days! After you shampoo her hair go through her hair in sections and take out any eggs or bugs out. The bugs should be dead. I now faithfully use Tea Tree shampoo from Paul Mitchell. My girls have not gotten lice since we've been using that shampoo!
—Guest Ali


If you just brush your hair, and don't use other peoples brushes/ clothes, you won't get it. Use natural vineger 2 times a week and rinse with water. Repeat until nothing shows up.
—Guest Sister,Sister

Comb comb comb

My daughter has been getting lice from her dad's house off and on since 4. Back then I spent at least a thousand dollars trying to rid it- laundromat, all the treatments, missed work... I finally learned to just comb her hair with a good metal comb until nothing came out. Every day for a week or so, (always comb while wet) then after every shower or bath. The newly hatched will be removed before laying eggs. All I wash is her sheet set and coat. Will always work, just takes a lot of time the first few days, you must comb until nothing else comes out, and repeat repeat repeat. I will try the tea tree oil as preventative- for now she puts her hair up when going there. They don't seem bothered by their kids having it :(
—Guest Tired Mom

Bye bye lice

Just wash your hair out with tea tree oil shampoo it helps.
—Guest Guest

Our Tactics

Our kindergartener just got it, and he has a LOT of hair (think Jaden Smith). He does NOT want us to cut it, and so has been very good about tolerating all our treatments. We used Nix the first night we noticed (due to the teacher sending home a note to check). It was useless. The same night we combed thoroughly, but still lots of live louse. The next day we SOAKED his head in olive oil and put a shower cap on him for 8 hours. Helped a lot but still found a few barely moving louse after washing it out easily with a little Dawn. More combing that night. Next morning, drenched the hair in vinegar, put it in a ponytail and let it air dry all day. This evening, I washed his hair thoroughly with tea tree oil shampoo and combed again with the metal comb. No live louse at all (2 dead ones) and very few nits. This is the third day. I just can't imagine how one could get every single nit out of this curly haired boy; they are so tiny!! Tomorrow we're taking him to Hair Fairies.
—Guest SanDiegoMommy

Lice - Gross!

I handled head lice after calling my doctor's consulting nurse with a lot less $$$ and more results after I bought the RID kit w/comb and furniture spray, and the shampoo. I combed through my kid's hair for hours, and she was in agony.... The nurse said lice is becoming resistant to all over-the-counter products and she said use 1/2 part vinegar and 1/2 part mineral oil. She said the vinegar loosens the nits from the hair & the mineral oil makes it easier for you to run the comb through the hair. I put the mixture on my kids' head & then put shower cap on and left on overnight. Then we combed through in the morning and then washed hair with tea tree oil shampoo.
—Guest Jana


During all the years yhat I worked as a teacher, the only thing that I recomend for handling the head lices is the vaseline. One treatment and thats all.
—Guest Cristalfalls

Conditioner then vinegar

Former hairdresser and mom to four kids. When you first see the lice, put conditioner (does not need to be a special kind) on the hair. Saturate it. Leave on for 30 mins or so. Then rinse out with warm water. Then soak hair in white vinegar to loosen the "glue" the nits have to attach themselves to hair. Leave on for 30 mins or so and then rinse out with warm water. Go through hair with metal tine lice comb, wiping after each comb through. I wipe on paper towel so I can see what I'm getting and also easier to throw out. Take small sections of hair, about a 1/4 inch or so and comb UP towards the top of the head, making sure comb is flat against the scalp to start. Once you have done the whole head and your comb is coming away clean, then you are done. Wash all bedding clothes, jackets etc that have com in contact with your child in the last few days. Wait 2 days then redo treatment. Do this every 2 days for 10 days and you will be lice free! It's A LOT of work but it does work!
—Guest Patti


my school nurse suggested crisco on the head overnight in a shower cap. Use dawn to get it out and remove all nits. I continued every 3-4 days for 21 days because it disrupts lifecycle if any nits were missed. headliceinfo.com
—Guest janet

Mayo for over 30 years

My famiy is very large. We have a lot of children and we have all had lice 5 times in the last fifteen years. The entire 50 of us have had it all at once only once, thank god. Every time we get lice the first step is to smother heads in mayo and cover with a plastic sack (or two to prevent dripping) as tight as possible. Leave in for eight hours. Wash out with warm water and no shampoo. After this you may purchase over the counter lice ride or repeat for another eight hours. We always start with mayo then apply the lice shampoo for good measure. Then we go throught each section of the head with a nit comb (this also grabs adult bugs).
—Guest Mandy From Oregon


Just sent 3 kids home from our health club kids korner. 3 heads totally full of lice. Sitting right now with my head smothered with paul Mitchells tea tree shampoo&several drops of straight tea tree oil mixed in.will sit with my shower cap on for 20 minutes or so before I rinse.got a cool comb set from walgreens.has a comb for nits and another for eggs.5x magnifier&debris brush.$9.99 at walgreen.see what happens.
—Guest lisa

My methods

I tried every chemical and found Lice-MD to be the best $ PESTICIDE-FREE !!! It is a bit pricy but you can use it safely everyday!! I only needed it once and found it very easy to get out the nits! I have 3 girls and it was me and my toddler giving it back and forth... After this it stopped... I am following up with heat treatments like blow-drying and my other girls keep their hair in high ponytails with gel to keep from getting it at school. I also found a great comb called Nit-Free metal comb and that was the best for getting nits out... Purchased on eBay for 10$! I'm going to make a repellent spray using tea tree oil and eucalyptus
—Guest Small-town lotsa kids mom

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