Getting rid of lice is a process and although not super easy it does not have to be as frantic as most people think. We are going to dispel some myths and get you on the fast track on how to get rid of lice.
We want to dispel the myths and help you get rid of lice as calmly as possible. First, if you haven’t already thrown out your combs and bagged everything in site, please don’t. The bugs live on our head, they do not live in our home. That’s worth saying again, the bugs live on our head, they do not live in our home. If a bug falls off of our head, where does it need to be to survive? You answered correctly, it needs to be on our head. So rule #1 Concentrate on the head and not the home. You can do some light cleaning if you feel compelled. Here’s a short list of cleaning, but we want to concentrate on the head and not the home going forward (just had to say it another time).
- Soak brushes in hot water 130 degrees (this is hot to the touch, most tap water will get this hot) a few minutes is long enough, but we know every Mom is going to add another 30 minutes to that just because and probably throw in bleach, ammonia and any other agent she thinks will kill the little pests (bleach might ruin your brushes) Here’s a guide on How to clean your brushes during a head lice outbreak, or otherwise!
- Wash the linens and recently worn clothing and towels of the infected person. It’s really the high heat that kills the bugs and their eggs so if you’ve recently washed everything, just throw it in the dryer on high heat.
- Children’s car seats are important to clean or vacuum.
- You can do some light vacuuming if you want, but again, we really want to concentrate on the head and not the home. No, the bugs can not live in your vacuum crawl out and get on your head.
- Extreme cold will kill lice and their eggs, so if you are worried about hair accessories that have glue that cannot go into the hot water, just put them in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer overnight.
So, you don’t need to bag your child’s favorite play toys for weeks in the garage and create an atmosphere of despair. We know it’s going to be difficult to ward off all the advice from your friends who have dealt with a head lice outbreak, but if you concentrate on the head we promise you will get rid of lice a lot faster and easier.
Why does it say to bag everything all over the internet? Its probably from a time when we didn’t know much about lice except the life cycle and they were trying to stop the process of the eggs hatching. An adult female louse can lay 3-5 eggs a day (maybe a few more) and it takes 7-10 days for an egg to hatch (some scientists are now reporting maybe even longer) and another 7-10 days for the nymph (baby bug) to become an adult. So there is our 14 days of bagging.
Why don’t we need to do that anymore? Because the adult bugs cannot survive off of the head longer than 24-48 hours and eggs will generally lose their viability within a week. Here is what Richard Pollack of the Harvard School of Public Health reports on his website
“Head lice and their eggs soon perish if separated from their human host. Detached lice survive just a day or so, and the eggs generally lose viability within a week. The chances of a live head louse or egg becoming reunited with a person would seem exceptionally remote. Accordingly, herculean steps to clean lice from the house or car by intensive washing or vacuuming will result in a cleaner space but are unlikely to facilitate the goal of eliminating the lice from those residing in the home. A child’s car seat cover may benefit from vacuuming, as a few errant lice or eggs may temporarily lodge there and survive for a day or so.”
Please be sure to confirm a case of head lice with a live louse or viable egg prior to treatment. Visit How to Check for Lice. Be sure to check every household member and those in close contact with the infected person for head lice so that you do not continue to pass the lice among family members, this will prolong the infestation. What Does Lice Look Like?
Best Lice Combs – Read This, You’ll need it to effectively get rid of lice.