Archive for the ‘Toxins’ Category

Lice, Lice, Baby

Lice is a topic with which I have become well too familiar, as a pediatrician, an overnight camp doctor and, most unfortunately, in my own home.  After our 3rd in-home episode, lice has become far less traumatic.  I am not grossed out or stressed out.  I now expect that my head will itch, and I will be unsure if this is psychological or real.  I expect to have stuffed garbage bags, full of stuffed animals and pillows, sitting around my home for weeks.  When I finally think it is safe to remove my many brushes from their plastic bags, whether it be weeks, months, or years later, classically somebody will be itchy and I’ll need to go buy more brushes just to be safe.

While I haven’t actually horrified my kids, I have a strong desire to pick through their friends’ hair when they come over.   Pin the Tail on the donkey, sleep overs, baseball helmets, and piles of coats take on new meaning. The sad part is that I now hesitate before hugging a child, and, worse, sometimes I even hesitate before hugging my own.  (I’m hoping that the itch I’m feeling right now is purely psychological.)

“Lice, Lice, Baby.  Stop, collaborate and listen.  Lice is back and my head is itch’n.”

Realizing that I have become somewhat of an expert on lice, I feel the need to share some key points and great products with anyone and everyone who wants to listen.  Hopefully this blog will help satiate this desire.

Lice are hardy parasites that live only on the human head. They do not differentiate between clean and dirty hair.  Lice do not carry infections and do not spread to the body. They do not live on animals/pets.  They remind me of cockroaches specifically in their resistance to being killed, as they have become incredibly resistant to most common pesticide treatments.  While this increasing resistance may be frustrating for many doctors who don’t know of other options, it has actually made it far easier for me to explain why non-toxic, environmentally safe and effective treatment options are best.

Adult and juvenile lice

Negatives to over-the-counter pesticide treatments (the ones with three letters):

  • They are neurotoxic – caution must be taken to avoid repetitive use.
  • >50% of strains of lice are resistant to them, meaning that it is more likely than not that the lice will NOT die with treatment.
  • They do not kill the nits (eggs) nor do they even loosen the nits, making nit removal more difficult than with enzyme treatment
  • Using conditioner inactivates their long term action. Without conditioner, combing out nits from long hair is virtually impossible.  This long term action is the only potential benefit I see over enzyme treatment.

Why risk putting neurotoxins on your kids especially if it is unlikely to eradicate the problem?

Unfortunately many parents, and doctors, still do not realize the the risk/benefit ratio clearly supports non-toxic therapy.  Sadly, parents continue to eagerly grab the pesticides off the shelves, expecting to get a quick and easy fix. Parents often neglect to treat the whole family, fail to pick out a few remaining nits, or neglect to tell close friends due to embarrassment.  Hence, the resistance worsens, and the infestation continues and spreads to friends and loved ones.

While thankfully most doctors no longer prescribe Lindane, AKA Kwell (an incredibly neurotoxic, carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting chemical), they continue to suggest parents try the over-the-counter chemicals first, not realizing that there are far more effective and less toxic options available.

So what to use instead?

I highly recommend either of two products to kill lice:

Neon Nits’ mousse: www.neonnits.com

or

De-Licer: www.delicer.com (a Michigan company)

Both of these products are:

  • Safe, non-toxic, highly effective, enzymatic formulas that kill lice by eating through the body of the louse.  Thus, resistance can not develop.
  • While no lice treatments kill the nits, these enzymatic therapies loosen the glue that sticks the nit to the hair, making it easier to remove the nits.
  • Conditioner can be applied after washing, making combing with a nit comb much easier.
  • Lastly, because there are no long term side effects, De-Licer and Neon Nits foam are safe to use as a precaution … for example if your child’s best friend has lice and your child just slept over at their house last night.

Neon Nits is a foam, while De-Licer is in a liquid applied with a spritz bottle.  From experience, I have found both to work well, however Neon Nit’s mousse is far easier to apply, takes far less time to complete a treatment, doesn’t stain clothes, and smells better. In support of De-licer, it can be purchased in a gallon bottle, making multiple treatments quite inexpensive.

Ulesfia (benzyl alchohol lotion) is a new prescription lice medication. I have not used it personally, but it seems to be a decent and non-toxic option.  However, it can be drying and irritating to the scalp. The length of the hair determines how many bottles you will need, making long hair potentially costly if you do not have prescription coverage.  However, if you do have prescription coverage, this could be a nice option.  As with all lice treatments, two applications are  recommended, 1 week apart, and it also does not kill the nits, making manual de-lousing an absolute must.

“Yes, this is a problem.  Yo, we’ll solve it.  Pick out the nits ’cause the treatment won’t dissolve it.  Lice, Lice, Baby.”

Application:

With Neon Nits foam mousse: Apply the foam to the hair, saturating it.  Let it sit for 5 minutes.  Then reapply, again saturating the hair and allow to sit for 10 minutes.  While the foam is still in the hair, comb through the hair with a good METAL comb.    Comb hair in all 4 directions, making sure that you hit the same point 4 different times.  Wash hair with shampoo and use conditioner (you can’t use conditioner for a week after using NIx or Rid, making hair combing miserable.)   Pick through hair DAILY with your hands and the comb, looking primarily for nits.  Re-treat in 1 week. If any eggs or bugs are seen, treat again in another week.

With De-licer: Saturate and keep hair moist for 1 hour.  Wear shower caps and spritz hair every 15 minutes.  Watching TV is an excellent distraction.  Comb through hair at the end of treatment, with the same advice as with Neon Nits – 4 directions, pick through afterwards, shampoo, condition, retreat in 1 week, picking through hair every day in between looking for nits.  Re-treat weekly as long as nits or bugs continue to be found.

The idea behind the weekly treatment is based on the life cycle of the louse.  Since it takes 2 weeks for a newly hatched louse to reach maturity and lay eggs, it seems logical that if you treat weekly for 2 subsequent treatments, you should kill all the live lice, and any missed nit that might have hatched.  A third treatment may be necessary, epecially if any actual bugs were seen during the second treatment.  Reinfection is also possible and is a significant reason for treatment failure requiring additional weeks of treatment.  With my husband not being the best nit-picker, it took me 4 consecutive treaments to clear my own head.

FYI: Chlorine does not kill lice, nor does a flat iron or curling iron.  I can attest to this personally. Don’t waste time with mayonnaise – it is not effective. Don’t waste time and mess with vaseline – whether it works or not is irrelevant compared to the time it takes to remove the vaseline from your hair.

Neon Nits’ Terminator is the best comb in the world!

Combing was horribly traumatic for my kids before I bought the Terminator.  It works well, removing both lice and nits.  It is easy to hold, doesn’t break, and doesn’t pull hair like the other combs.

LiceMeister is a decent metal comb as well.

Plastic combs are worthless.

Lice is like an STD.  I believe one of the most important pieces to de-lousing our community is communication.  While lice like to stay put once they are happy on a head, they will transfer quickly to close contacts when given the opportunity. Family members and friends must be notified that they were potentially exposed, especially if they have sleep overs together.  It may feel embarrassing or uncomfortable to be the bearer of bad news, but this way parents will find the lice sooner, before their child infects their whole family or reinfects your own kids.

Pearls of Wisdom:

  • You must pick through your child’s hair daily to remove nits. This is the most important step to eradicating lice.
  • Remove pillowcases daily and put in them in the dryer at the hottest and longest setting.  (If you want the extra security of washing them too, you must increase your water heater to 140 degrees to kill lice.  Be very careful with water this hot, as it can scald skin in just 2 seconds.)
  • Do the same with winter coats.  Luckily you don’t need to wash them – drying is sufficient.
  • Put all items that could harbor nits, but can’t be put in the dryer (stuffed animals, hair brushes, hats, etc.,) in a plastic bag for 2 weeks.
  • Remind your kids to never share hats or hair items.
  • Never pile jackets.
  • Tea tree oil is a good preventative.  Put only a few drops in your child’s shampoo or conditioner.  Peppermint sprays can also be useful preventatives as well.

Lastly:

Get in a routine and check your child’s hair weekly, with hopes of finding it before it finds you!

“Lice, Lice, Baby”

If you live in southeastern Michigan, you can now purchase both Neon Nit’s Mousse and the Neon Nits Terminator lice comb directly through Healing the Whole Child.  This way you can get the products immediately and save yourself the shipping charge.  If you are interested, please email inquiry@healingthewholechild.com.

If you need either product to be shipped, please contact www.neonnits.com directly, as Healing the Whole Child does not ship.