Head Lice Treatment Then and Now
Head lice are a nuisance and now there are super lice, which are resistant to treatment and require more than the old shampoos and kits. Years ago parents used to be able to just go to the doctor or the drugstore and get a shampoo and wash their kids heads and they were done. Now people are more cautious about pesticides and super lice have spread across america and are resistant or completely immune to the neurotoxins used in these solutions. In the past ten years, professional lice companies have been created by parents who figured out how to get rid of lice using safer options. There are new products, but still no silver bullet that treats lice in one day and without risking children’s health.
Most people don’t show any symptoms of head lice until about four weeks after they catch it. If you start hearing or having conversations in your school, daycare, camp, or other child service chances are you should start checking for lice immediately. If you see your children itching their heads, complaining about painful or irritating itching, see red welts on their neck, scalp, or behind their ears, you probably have a lice infestation and need to seek treatment. Additionally, you may be able to see small teardrop shaped white or dark objects attached to their hair shaft. These are lice eggs called nits. Unless you know what you are looking for and have very good vision, it is hard to find and identify them correctly. Here are some pictures of lice and nits to help you identify them.
If you think you have lice in your hair, the first step is to do a lice check. Lice checks come in two different types: wet and dry checks. For parents the best method is to do a dry check and if you don’t find anything do a wet check. The dry check is quick and just involves looking through the scalp on the back of the neck, the crown of the head, the hairline, and behind the ears for anything that looks like a bug and is moving. If it isn’t moving when you take it off, it isn’t lice. If you aren’t sure what you have found, take a picture and send it to a lice service to have it identified.
A wet check is much more accurate than a dry check and require more time, energy, and skill to perform. You can find detailed instructions on our website for how to do it here.
How to Get Rid of Lice
A lot of parents are trying to find out how to get rid of lice. There is so much misinformation on social media and promoted by parents that mistakenly believe they have fixed their lice infestation with coconut oil or olive oil. What they don’t tell you is how long it took and that they had to find a high quality lice comb to really get the job done. Head lice have been around for thousands of years and in the past humans have used coconut oil and olive oil to try to successfully treat them. The problem is that over time head lice adapted to olive and coconut oil just like they did to the lice shampoos and other pesticides. The only thing that has always worked is manual lice combing. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as just buying a comb at Walmart and going through your children’s hair once or twice.
Not All Lice Combs Are the Same
In the interest of increasing their profit margin, many lice products include very cheap and poorly made combs. Usually they are completely plastic or metal but with very short teeth that are too widely spaced. Plastic teeth bend so lice and nits can slip right through. They are also impossible to use on thick or very curly hair and are often too short to even get to close enough to the scalp where lice live. A good quality lice comb has metal teeth that are at least one and a half inches long, are very tightly spaced, and do not bend very much.
The Best Way to Get Rid of Lice
The best way to get rid of lice in one day is to hire a professional removal service. It actually ends up costing less than missing days of work to treat lice, paying for daycare that you child can’t go to, paying for babysitting if you kid cannot go back to school, buying multiple lice products or devices to experiment with, or risking your and your families health on dangerous and unreliable home remedies like rubbing alcohol, which is highly flammable, or tea tree oil, which many people have an allergic reaction to. If you cannot afford to hire a lice removal company, you should first call them to see if they can work out a payment plan or offer any discounts for medicaid or medicare patients. There may be coupons online you can use. Some lice services accept FSA or HSA debit cards to pay for treatment, but there are no current general health insurance plans that cover lice treatment.
You May Be Wondering “How Do I Find the Best Lice Treatment Near Me?”
Check for reviews online. Try sites like Yelp, Google Business Reviews on Google Maps, Facebook, and other review services. Ask your friends, other parents, daycare providers, teachers or pediatricians for a referral. When you speak to a lice business, ask them if they guarantee their work and for how long. Make sure to ask them how to qualify for the guarantee because it can be difficult or more expense for some services than others. Ask them how they treat lice, what they use, how many appointments it requires, if you have to buy any products, how long it usually takes, and what type of payment they will take. Some services may charge by the hour or a flat fee. We believe hourly is the fairest way because it shouldn’t cost the same to treat an adult woman with long, thick hair as it does to treat a boy with very short hair because of the amount of work involved differs. Either way, ask for an estimate on how much their average appointment costs and then give them more details about your family’s situation: number of people, hair types, split household or not, etc.
Lice Treatment in Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon has several lice companies that do their work in a salon, clinic, other facility, or will travel to your home. There are also options located in Vancouver WA, Beaverton OR, Southeast Portland OR, and Clackamas OR.
Natural or Home Remedies
Occasionally we get questions from clients asking if there are any effective home remedies like olive oil or take-home treatment kits from CVS, Target or Walgreens. You can get rid of head lice with home remedies, but often it’s not because of the particular diy option you choose. More likely it’s the persistent combing over the course of days and weeks. There are rare cases where there were very, very few bugs on the head or nits and the home remedy managed to smother them or in many situation it only seems like it’s gone away and you find out four weeks later that you still have lice and now they have spread to more family members or friends of the family. The truth is home remedies are not reliable and if they aren’t done carefully can be unhealthy or in some cases, such as gasoline or using plastic bags to cover children’s heads while they sleep, extremely dangerous.
Doctors and Lice
Often people will schedule an appointment with their doctor when they think they have lice. Unfortunately, most pediatricians and other doctors are not familiar with how to check and identify head lice and especially in cases where it isn’t severe and easy to find live bugs. Many doctors will simply refer their patients to a lice specialist, recommend and over the counter kit, or a prescriptions option. There are no insurance companies that provide coverage for lice treatment and paying out of pocket can become very expensive when everyone in the house needs to be treated. You should do your research before using a prescription option as some of them cannot be used on young children or pregnant women.
FSA and HSA Paying for Lice Treatment
Fortunately, most, if not all, flexible savings accounts (FSA) and health savings accounts (HSA) offered by employers or independent providers can be used to pay for professional lice services. Check with the service beforehand to make sure it’s covered and get an invoice with a list of the people treated to submit to your account provider.
Cost of Professional Treatment
Prices vary from service to service. Some charge a flat fee and most others charge by the hour. Always call to get an estimate before scheduling, but understand that providers who charge by the hour must see the situation in person to give the most accurate estimate and without knowing exactly who has it no service can really give you a definite price. Once concern with flat fees is paying the same for an adult with a full head of hair as a child with very short hair and a smaller head. If the price of seeing a professional seems to high be sure to ask if they have a payment plan, financing, or any discounts available.
- Head Lice. Portland Public Schools
- Head Lice. Baker Allergy Asthma Dermatology
- About Lice and Their Control. Environmental Protection Agency
- Head Lice Resources & Info. MESD
- Super Lice Bugging More People. KPTV
- Bureau of Human Resources. City of Portland Oregon.
- Lice Resources. Oregon.gov