How to Get Rid of Lice the First Time

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Getting Rid of Lice For Good

Getting Rid of Lice the First Time Around

Folks. I’m not going to sugar coat this: we got lice. I’m going to give you the nitty gritty details (no pun…), but I will also START by saying, IT’S NOT THAT BAD! So settle in. Be ready for the phantom itching to start immediately, and… read how our family of seven got rid of lice easily and painlessly the first time around!

How our family got rid of lice the first time around

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A few points of order. We’ve never had lice before so I had made some assumptions about these little visitors. The first being that they come with itching. False. They do NOT. One of my children had it 10x worse than the others, and I can only assume she was patient zero, but she wasn’t itching at all! The second assumption is that I would easily be able to identify our new roommates. Also false. Patient zero had it BAD so I actually could see, but for the other kids who caught it… I was *really* searching hard.

What Do Lice Look Like

So let’s back up to how it looks. I suspect that everyone’s already googled these beauties, but I’ll describe them the way I saw them in case it makes more sense. The nits (eggs) look like dandruff. They look like little bits of lint. In other words, they look like NOTHING. They look like the tiniest tiny little gray specs along the base of the hair shaft. Our patient zero also had actual lice (the live critters gracefully moving around her head.) These are a little more obvious because, well… they’re bugs. On your head. But they’re still super small. Some smaller than a gnat, and others more like the size of an ant. Translucent gray.

What I Learned About Lice

I immediately took my one child into a place near us called the Lice Fairies. They spend hours combing through your hair and treating the head. It’s not cheap. Ours was $105 an hour not including all the products that you leave with. I would pay it 100% again for our first round because I was able to ask a million questions and really watch the technician’s technique so that I felt totally comfortable going back home to treat the other possible patients myself. I would definitely endorse looking for something similar in your neck of the woods if you’ve never had lice before and you want an expert.

Here’s what I learned. 1. Lice don’t do very well OFF a human head.(I.e. they only live for a few days without a food source.) This is great news!   2. Lice don’t burrow like, say, a bed bug. Which is FANTASTIC news because you don’t have to worry about things like mattresses and pillow inserts. 3. The lice place was a bit more alarmist about it all, but I would argue that lice actually ISN’T that easy to pass from person to person… yes. It can happen in a split second because all it takes is that little critter to move from one head to the next, but looking at the infestation on one head in our family, and then seeing how few everyone else had… it just struck me as something that maybe wasn’t as contagious as it might seem.

Lice Stats

  • Nits take about a week to hatch. Which is important for treatment, because you have to keep combing and inspecting for at least this long to ensure no stragglers hiding away make a late break for it.
  • Lice themselves can live up to 30 days on a head, but assuming you’re following my directions, you should get rid of these guys on day 1.
  • Lice lay 3-5 eggs a day. Also important to make note of when you’re removing nits as it can give you a general sense of when you might have picked up your new friends.

How to Get Rid of Lice

Step 1. Gather Supplies for Lice Removal

Sit your lice hotel down and put a towel around his/ her shoulders. You will need a spray bottle with water, a plastic comb, a hair clip, a lice comb, a white towel and ideally a cream to help release the eggs. (I’ll link to all our products at the end of the post.) You’re also going to want to find a comfortable seat, and perhaps a book for your child… this is going to take a while.

Tools needed to get rid of lice

Step 2. Comb Hair in First Direction

The key to lice removal is careful combing and then careful combing again a week later to get any stragglers. Because the hair shaft is ROUND, it’s important to comb through the hair with the lice comb in FOUR directions. The first direction is from the crown of the head down towards the shoulders. (Like you would normally comb your hair.) Divide the lower inch or so of hair from the scalp and clip all the rest of the hair onto the top of the head. Spray with water, run one pump of lice removal cream through the hair and comb with plastic comb to remove the larger knots. Now comes the big guns. Run the lice comb through the first lock of hair five different times. Wipe any knits of lice off onto the white towel to remove from the comb. (Don’t worry… they don’t move at all really so they won’t crawl away or anything.)

section hair and comb with lice comb in first direction

wipe the lice comb off onto a white towel

Move the lice comb over and comb through the next lock of hair five times. Repeat until you’ve combed through this entire first section of hair. For bad cases of lice, you may have to periodically spray down the comb onto the towel to remove any stragglers. Pull down another small section of hair and continue moving up the head section by section, lock by lock, until you’ve combed through the entire head.

combing through hair with lice comb

Step 3. Comb Hair in Second Direction

The second direction is from one ear, over the crown of the head to the other ear. Comb through in this direction exactly as you did the first direction. Section the hair, comb through lock by lock. Repeat. You won’t have to add more cream for this direction… you should be able to spray with your water bottle to reactivate the cream. As long as you see cream when you’re combing through with the lice comb, you’re all set.

second direction for lice removal is from ear to ear

Step 4. Comb Hair in the Third Direction

The third direction is ear to ear in the opposite direction of what you did in Step 3. (So if you combed from the right ear, over the top to the left ear… now you’re going to start on the left ear and comb over the top to the right ear.)

comb lice comb through from ear to ear for lice removal

Step 5. Comb Hair in the Fourth Direction

I’m not sure that there’s an order for combing, so don’t get too hung up on which step to do first. The fourth direction is to part the hair down the middle, and comb from the top of the head, down towards either ear.

fourth direction for lice removal is a center part down towards the ears

Step 6. Comb Hair in the Fifth Direction

The final direction is from the nape of the neck up towards the crown. Have your child lean forward with their head between their knees.

lice removal combing from nape of neck towards the crown

Step 7. Keep Hair Pulled Back

Pull the hair back into braids or a bun, and repeat these steps as often as you feel comfortable! We brushed through everyone’s hair two days in a row, and then waited a week to retreat one final time. Everything we’re using is totally all natural which meant we could repeat treatment any time we felt like it!

Getting Rid of Lice the First Time Around

Step 8. Other Tips for Getting Rid of Lice

Laundry. To be extra careful, we washed the kids pillow cases and sheets the first night we discovered lice. Because lice don’t burrow, or really survive away from a food source (aka, people), you don’t have to go crazy with laundry… it just made us feel better.

For things that *couldn’t* go into the washing machine (stuffed animals… furniture…) we took a couple precautions. Stuffed animals went in a plastic bag and were put aside for a few days. Remember… lice can only live off the head for that long. We vacuumed any couches that had lots of lounging activity… so only the family room and play room couches. We purchased a spray that we used on things like their carseats.

We used a special preventative shampoo a few times during the course of the week and will occasionally use it moving forward.

And that’s it! I PROMISE you it truly was this simple. Re-treating after a week or so was key as any left over little nits will have just hatched so you want to catch them before the cycle begins again. Trust me… if we can get rid of lice the first time around for our family of SEVEN, then so can you!!

Oh… dogs can’t get lice so don’t worry about your fur babies!

Supplies for Lice Removal

I made a video for this one too… just in case it doesn’t make ANY sense what I’m writing:

pin this image to pinterest

See how we got rid of lice the first time around



XO Charlotte

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  1. Thank you for posting this and normalizing it (Though my head did start havIng some phantom itching while i read, ha ha!)

    Ill admit it’s my nightmare scEnario, buT this made it Look tedious but not Crazy. I had heAdlice as a child, and my mom (who has OCD) shampooed the carpets. All of our stuffed animals were in garbage bags on the lawn and every stick of laundry washed. When i imagined my four getting it i was thinking of all that work!

    My sister has one daughter and just got rid of a case of super lIce…it was as amazing as it sounds ?

    1. Haha! I itch every time I think about this post! I was horrified when we found out anticipating ALL of the work we’d have to go through and was so pleasantly surprised by the process! Not that I want to get it again, but… it’s TOTALLY manageable!

  2. Charlotte, thanks so much for posting this. I have 3 daughters and we’ve had a case once already, although only TWO of the girls got it, thankfully. The process we used was WAY more complicated than what you wrote about. I shudder to think we could get it again, but… we could, so I’m definitely Pinning this “just in case.” And yes, my head is itching as I type this LOL 😉

  3. When we brought our girls home, they came with the worst case of lice I’ve ever dealt with. We tried every natural recommendation we found, went through their hair with fine tooth combs a million times (literally), then tried all the stuff you find in drug stores. Nothing would kill those little buggers. We finally found Vamousse and it was the only thing that killed them. I think they had that strain that is super hard to kill, the resistant ones. It took months to finally be lice free. I wanted to cry every time they scratched their heads. In fact, I still cringe. Hopefully, we will never have this issue again, but I’ll try out this lice cream next time. I also like the five directions idea – didn’t do that…

    1. Oh my gosh! I can’t even imagine! Yes! There are definitely super strains of it, but the five directions thing also made so much sense to me when the guy explained it. Fingers crossed neither of us ever have to worry about it again!! 😮

  4. Head itching now- cant believe youve never had it! We had it ALL the time in our classroom in DC And then my co teacher and i got it. We went home with a bottle of wine and picked the nits – ugh!