When I talk with families that have gone through a cycle of head lice in the home, they always want to know what they can do to keep it from happening again. Questions like, “Should I shampoo with tea-tree oil?” “Should I spray my furniture?” “Should I ban my child from having sleepovers?”
I think people should forget about “treatments” for head lice prevention. Claims about various natural repellents have not been sufficiently proven as effective or even safe and they are certainly not regulated. In my travels, I have seen many a case of head lice where the family used rinses and sprays as prevention but still found themselves with active cases of head lice. These so-called preventative treatments are costly. Spending tons of money, changing our household routines in significant ways, or limiting the activities of our children only gives more power to the head lice paranoia and does little or nothing to actually protect us.
What do I do with my own family to keep head lice at bay? Once a week, my daughter and I get a quick lice check. For us, it’s during the Saturday night bath night. I check while doing quick wet combing (around 50 strokes) with a good metal lice comb on the already conditioned hair. I do this every week, so if I find something, the problem will be small and I will be able to deal with it that evening. Of course, any head scratching during the week gets an immediate check.
Spending time on “quick fixes” to the problem of head lice actually end up taking more time and costing us money. There are so many people that don’t want to believe that a simple measure such as wet combing with a good lice comb over time would be enough. Our western culture has caused us to believe we need chemicals, tricks, complicated procedures, programs, systems, and gimmicks to deal with our issues. I believe this has actually increased the cases of head lice in our community as we are not dealing with the problem effectively.
Forgo the chemicals, natural or otherwise, and trust what you find (or don’t find) on a good comb with regular family lice checks. In this way, you can stop a little head lice from becoming a big problem.