Here we are a month later and still no return of the yucky head lice or nits (eggs) so I thought it would be helpful to parents like me, who are virgins to this experience, to follow-up my first blog post on March 2nd https://tonitalove.com/2014/03/02/yes-black-girl-you-can-get-head-lice/ about how to eradicate head lice from African-American hair using natural products.
You definitely need to refer to my original blog post where I found out that one of the best ways to kill head lice is heat. After the Rid shampoo that they sell in the drugstores started to take my daughter’s natural hair out on the spot, I searched for an organic remedy. In a few words, the natural remedy is heat to kill them and heavy oil to help loosen the eggs that they leave behind. Both my daughter and I wear our African-American hair in its natural state, but I did invest in a flat-iron for the special occasions when she wants to wear her hair straight or in spiral curls. I never expected to use it for any other reason, but I’m even more thankful now that I have it.
Well, after the first wash and flat-iron, and the use of the Robi Comb that I mentioned in my earlier post, I had killed all of the lice (and yes I did see live lice….ewww!) I could see in her hair. The process was tedious because she has long, thick, wavy hair and you have to comb through it in sections about 1/4th of an inch thick in order to see and remove the lice. They love to hide in the crown of the head as well as the edges (near the ears, forehead and nape of the neck) and will move from one area to the other as you are working through the head. Contrary to popular belief lice are not white; the live adult lice are brown and the eggs (nits) are white. The adult lice are pretty easy to dislodge. It’s the eggs that glue themselves to the hair shaft, that are difficult to remove. I proceeded to get all visible lice and nits eliminated from her hair, then washed and flat ironed it again and sent her to school. It had been a two-day process and I was so proud of myself that I had zapped all of those scalp vultures and that I didn’t see one white speck of anything in her hair. Twenty minutes later I get a call from the nurse that she could not return to her classroom. The reason I didn’t see any white eggs was that the remaining eggs had started to hatch and had turned brown, making it almost impossible to see in a head of sandy brown hair! I was devastated and she was so disappointed that she would miss yet another day of school. The nurse asked if she could snip a strand or her hair with the brown nit on it so that I knew what I was looking for, and I realized this wouldn’t be an easy resolution.
Feeling defeated, I picked up the phone and called my local health food store, Martindale’s Natual Market http://www.martindalesnutrition.com/ to see if they carried a natural head lice removal kit. Hallelujah, they did, and it was surprisingly inexpensive at about $25 for the shampoo, lice oil and nit removal comb kit. It’s a lot less than taking your child to a lice removal salon and paying $100 or more for their services! I was so happy and so relieved, but here I was with a broken ankle, on crutches and didn’t know who I could get to pick it up for me. The staff at Martindale’s is extremely well-informed about holistic and organic foods, nutrition and care and are always so compassionate but it floored me when the woman on the phone said that she would bring it to me when she finished her shift. I almost cried and thanked her a million times when she showed up at my door less than two hours later. Since I had removed the lice I proceeded to use the Safe 4 People “De Bug Lice Oil” http://www.safe4people.com/html/ptotoday.htm which after treatment, makes the hair shaft so oily that the nits are much easier to remove and sometimes slide off by themselves. I’ve heard from other parents that mayonnaise or petroleum jelly work in the same fashion, but none were African-American and I didn’t want to risk taking the chance of it not working in my daughter’s hair. I followed the directions on the oil, once again sectioning the hair and applying this extremely thick castor oil-based solution to her dry hair. It took about an hour to apply, and two more hours of her sitting with a shower cap on her head. Two hours later (less time if you use their shampoo first; I chose not too since the shampoo is for removing that lice and I had done that already), I rinsed her hair in warm water once again went through the tedious process of removing the nits from her hair. Since her hair is so thick and curly, and it’s much easier to use the tiny nit comb on straight hair I had to blow dry and flat-iron her hair once again. I could see that a lot of the nits had washed off with the warm water, but I still needed to section her hair and comb through each section with the nit comb, this time using a flashlight to ensure I could see every little brown nit possible! Two more hours later ( suggest you start this early and not wait until after dinner like I did!) I put a little Jojoba oil in her hair, lightly touched her edges with a bottle of tea tree oil I also purchased from Martindales (I read that lice do not like tea tree oil), and sent her to bed on fresh linens and a brand new pillow. I was taking no chances!
The next morning I checked her hair and scalp again, feeling paranoid with each piece of white lint or dandruff flake I found, and sent her to school. We both prayed that it would be a successful day. About half an hour later it dawned on me that the phone hadn’t rung and it was well past the time that she should be in her classroom. I didn’t want to assume, so I called the school nurse myself. She said “well done, her hair and scalp look great”; I exhaled. “How did you do it without using the drugstore solution?” she asked. I proceeded to give her the short version. She said that she shared my experience with the nurse from the other elementary school because she who was unaware that children of color could even get head lice. She also said she would share it with other parents and I let her know that I’m happy to share my story with any other African-American parents at the school who need this information.
So, yes I am now the head lice removal expert (hahaha) and I am happy to pass on my knowledge to other parents. She will be wearing her hair up and braided if necessary at least during school hours and will not be sharing dress-up wigs or hats with her friends for quite some time. I truly hope I will never have to rely on this information myself ever again, but at least if I have to go through this again, I will grab the Safe4people kit, my Robi Comb and my flat-iron and get to work!
Oh, the joys of Parenting!