Are you familiar with the facts about head lice and its treatment in case you find lice in your family member’s head? I just went through the lice treatment on my child again, so it gave me a motivation to write about this now.
What do you do when your child comes home with lice when living overseas? Since I have never seen lice till last year, it came as a shock at first when I found nits in my child’s head. I had goose bumps running through my arms and neck when I saw them. Luckily there are pharmacies in every corner in Mumbai, India and treatment products for lice is readily available. I hear it’s more emotionally damaging than anything to have lice, but the good news is that you can treat lice and you know that it will go away quickly if you treat it properly.
I’m not a doctor, so please consider this post as two cents from a mom who went through a head lice treatment on her children. Please find other websites such as American Academy of Dermatology for professional advise.
I have used these two products by Mediker in the photos on the top and bottom of this post for my children in India. Apparently there are different products for kids and adults. I got referral for the Indian brand Perlice, but when I went to a pharmacy in Mumbai to buy it, I was told by the local pharmacist that it was for adults and not recommended for the use on children. My husband supported the products that came recommended, but my mother instinct told me no. I did not want any chemical prescribed for adults on my child’s head because it will enter the body through pores. The Indian pharmacist recommended me this Mediker shampoo with natural ingredients, so I bought it. However, I was not successful (partly my fault). I went back to the pharmacy and asked for other recommendations and then I was recommended to use the oil version. I probably did not do a good job the first time with the shampoo. It seems that both products are good, but the oil treatment is a bit more powerful than the shampoo and thus more effective. I would use the shampoo first and if the shampoo did not work, I would try the oil.
14 Helpful Facts To Know About Head Lice
Here are 14 facts about lice that I learned. I find them helpful to know when treating lice and make kids understand them so that there is no hurtful words would be said to children who have head lice.
1. Lice can survive in the water for several hours (some say they can survive for a day). (I wish humans can do that.)
2. Lice hold onto human hair tightly when under water.
3. How lice spread is when an uninfected head touches the hair, hat, bedding or whatever that is hosting the live lice, they could crawl up and move to the head.
4. Lice do not jump or fly. Lice crawl.
5. It has nothing to do with hygiene. (Point 2)
6. Lice can survive up to 2 days without a food source (away from the human scalp = blood). Usually they die after 3 days without eating.
7. Live lice die at the temperature of 40 degree Celsius (104 degree Fahrenheit) after 10 minutes.
8. Nits die at the temperature of 60 degree Celsius (140 degree Fahrenheit) after 10 minutes.
9. Nits are often found on the sides of the head behind the ears.
10. Nits are usually found close to the scalp (I found them about 1 cm away from the scalp).
11. Nits take about 7 days to hatch.
12. Nymphs (baby lice) mature after about 7 days.
13. Female lice can lay up to 8 nits per day! (Insane!! You can imagine how fast they can multiply.)
14. Lice move fast and they are good at hiding. (They are sneaky!)
When I was doing a research, I learned that it is not advised to use a hair iron because nits are found close to the scalp and using a hair iron will run a risk of burning the scalp.
(Some information via Q&A on the Center for Disease Control & Prevention home page, CDC Head Lice Biology, Kids Health, あたまじらみ.com, しらみガイド)
I would like to provide a little more detailed instructions for how I treated lice on my child’s head in India using Mediker products. You can see a video of how to treat lice on American Academy Dermatology site if you prefer a visual instructions.
I went for treatment using natural shampoo and oil on my children. I did not feel that it was safe to use chemical (pesticides) on their head because whatever you use will go into their system through their pores and hair roots.
Mediker Lice Treatment Shampoo
What you need: Mediker Shampoo, Special Comb (You can buy it at pharmacies in India)
You can find the instruction on the bottle, but the instruction on the bottle is very simple. I realized I need more step by step instructions.
1. Wet the child’s head with warm water just like you do so for a regular hair wash.
2. Apply the Medikar shampoo (anti-lice shampoo) generously and lather up well.
3. Use fingers to gently massage the lather into the hair close to the scalp (make sure there is no patches that did not get any lather. Lice can go hide in those spots. Yes, they are smarter than you think.)
4. Let the Medikar shampoo/anti-lice shampoo sit on the head for a few minutes for better effect.
5. Rinse well. (Use conditioner after rinsing if your child’s hair tends to get tangled.)
6. Comb the hair with the special comb for lice treatment. Each time you comb, dip the comb into a tub of hot water to release the lice. (I bought a comb from a pharmacy as the shampoo did not come with one.)
7. Repeat the process 7 days later. It is important to follow up.
After I combed the hair, I searched for nits and removed them with my fingers by sliding them on the hair between my nail and finger. You can remove lice with a comb, but I found it hard to remove nits with it. You do not have to do this process, but I felt better if I searched for nits and removed them one by one with my fingers. After you remove nits, you have to squeeze them on a hard surface with your nail. Live lice and nits that have not hatched would make a little noise when you press them against a hard surface. With two of my kids, both times, I found a live female louse crawling the day after I treated their head with the shampoo. For some reason I could not find them right after I treated their head when their hair was still wet. Female adult lice must have a very strong survival instinct. After killing the big cause, the female louse, then the problem went away in our cases.
You also have to either wash all the bedding, towels, pillow cases, stuff toys, hats and any fabric that the child’s head has touched. If you can’t wash some items, then you have to keep them in a plastic bag for a week or so. Putting them in a dryer would work as well. I find this process much more painful and tiring than treating the head. The beauty of living in a country like India where one can afford a help is that you have someone to help you with cleaning to exterminate lice from items. I have spend some time cleaning some beddings and pillow cases myself at night as I did not want to wait till the next day.
Mediker Oil Treatment
What you need: Mediker Oil, Comb, Shower Cap
There is a simple instruction on the bottle as well. I recommend this treatment!
1. Apply the Mediker anti-lice oil thoroughly on the head.
2. I made sure the oil is evenly spread out on the scalp and hair by gently massaging the oil into the hair especially the area close to the skin. Make sure there is no patches where the oil did not get to. You don’t want to allow lice to hide in those untreated areas. They might have a small brain, but they are smart (smarter than you think!)!
3. Put a shower cap (try to remove air between the shower cap and the hair) or wrap saran wrap on the head. This way you can suffocate the lice.
4. Have your child sit with the oil in the hair with a shower cap for an hour. (The instruction says leave the oil for an hour.)
5. Comb the hair with the special comb. After each time, dip the comb into a tub of hot water to release any lice.
6. Rinse the oil.
7. Comb the hair again with the comb.
8. Repeat the process 7 days later.
I find this method more effective.
I just wanted to share my experience so that I can help other expat parents out there with the same issue. Once you get a grip of treatment, it’s actually not that bad. I don’t mind sitting with my child under a lamp and go through the hair section by section like some monkeys do.
At the end of the day, you know that you can treat lice. It’s not a disease. It’s treatable. There are worse things out there.