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joie de vivre I'm back now

get rid of lice (read all 3 entries…)
Oh my

I was in denial for a long time. I thought Emma’s head was itching because she has sensitive skin and she dyes her hair various colors with cheap hair dyes that she buys with her allowance. Rose was complaining about her head itching, but I couldn’t see anything. It sounds selfish and stupid, but I didn’t take it seriously until my head started itching.

Our entire house is infested with lice. My husband, with his buzz cut, seems to be OK for now.

I have outlined an 11 part plan on a big piece of butcher paper and hung it up in the front hall and secured family cooperation.

The bicycle ride for the day has been truncated into a 25 mile tootle, so the initial steps can be completed, today, which are:

  1. Everyone washes her hair with insecticide shampoo.
  2. All hair implements, ribbons, bands, etc (we have lots of these with three women with long hair) will be plunged into a large pot of boiling water
  3. The beds are all stripped of all bedding. Our PJs, pillows, sheets, pillowcases, and any bedding that can be washed on hot, are washed on hot. The remaining bedding is bagged and sealed.
  4. The bedrooms are thoroughly vacuumed
  5. Insecticide is sprayed on every unwashable surface that has contact with our heads (bike helmet, car head rests, etc.)
  6. Everyone’s head is combed out for nits.
  7. Any remaining unboilable, unsprayable, small, non-essential items that may come in contact with heads will be bagged (such as headphones)
For the next two weeks:
  1. All heads will be combed out for nits nightly
  2. Every pillowcase washed on hot nightly. If I need to buy more pillowcases, so be it.


ailuig on her tiny planet

hi petersky,
i read your entry and, as i happen to be a medical student who just passed an exam on this topic, i would like to reassure you a little about the hated lice.

1. they aren’t related to one person’s hygiene at all (it is possible to have them even if you wash your hair every day).

2. they only eat blood, and tiny pieces of flesh they find on one’s head, so it is impossible for them to survive in another environment for more than a few hours, once you have eliminated them (and all their eggs) from your hair.
so, you really don’t need to boil your ribbons, throw away headphones and bed sheets. i assure you!

just use the specific shampoo and powder for some days, and when they’re gone they’re gone forever.
it’s impossible to take them from the environment, they only jump from head to head.

good luck! :-)

if you need more info, feel free to ask me :-)

joie de vivre I'm back now

Several concerns

While I understand that lice will not survive more than a day or two without a blood meal, my concern is that the entire life cycle is two weeks. Thus, we have bagged up every non-launderable pillow or bedding item, the headphones and the hair straightener for two weeks, because of concerns about any nits hatching in the interim.

As for boiling items, this is the information I have from the doctor:

  • Wash all bed linens and clothing that’s been recently worn by anyone in your home who’s infested in very hot water (130 degrees Fahrenheit, or 54.4 degrees Celsius) then put them in the hot cycle of the dryer for at least 20 minutes.
  • Dry clean any clothing that isn’t machine washable.
  • Have bed linens, clothing, and stuffed animals and plush toys that can’t be washed dry-cleaned. Or, put them in airtight bags for 2 weeks.
  • Vacuum carpets and any upholstered furniture (in your home or car).
  • Soak hair-care items like combs, barrettes, hair ties or bands, headbands, and brushes in rubbing alcohol or medicated shampoo for 1 hour. You can also wash them in hot water or just throw them away.

I realize that boiling is unnecessary, but as long as I’m bringing it up to 140 degrees, I might as well bring it up to a simmer on the stove.

As for the insecticide shampoo, they say only to do it twice, seven to ten days apart, and then not again except under the doctor’s recommendation. There’s no powder involved here.

ailuig on her tiny planet

of course it’s really good to have everything cleaned up!!
i only wanted to tell you not to worry about them possibly going around your house as they please.
it’s really awful to find them, i know.

and of course you must always refer to the instructions of the specific shampoo you bought…(i said powder because an anti-lice powder exists, too…at least here in europe!)

as for your concern, it is true that their life-cycle lasts about 2 weeks, but only when they are infecting a host, because lice need food and are extremely sensitive to temperature variations.
the eggs are tightly attached to the hair (so you must remove them with a fine comb) and can’t survive in other places.

joie de vivre I'm back now


I figured the powder thing must be European. Maybe it’s basically the same as the sprays we have here.

Do they have “super”-lice in Europe? I know that here and Australia, they have problems with lice that aren’t affected by the standard insecticides. Fortunately, ours appear to be felled by the pyrethrin-based shampoo we got.

We have a huge amount of laundry still to go through, but the worst of it is now over. If nothing else, it is nice to have clean sheets on all the beds and everything all vacuumed. (I guess if I hired a proper housekeeping service we’d have these privileges on a weekly basis.)

I am hoping that by nit-combing every night, we can get rid of the little bugs by the time the week is out, and I won’t feel like washing the pillow cases every day is a necessity.

ailuig on her tiny planet

yes, there are drug-resistant lice here in europe, too… fortunately, there are different kinds of substances to use against them, too (both organic and chemical), so hopefully one of those should work.
if not, the only way is to eliminate them one by one :-S

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