Back-to-school means lice season and our household’s been hit! For some reason, French schools (and parents?) are pretty laissez-faire about it. So a kid’s got lice and he’s spreading it to his classmates? Tant pis. They aren’t barred from coming to school and, as far as I can tell, other moms don’t freak the eff out about it like I do.
It’s been two years since the Great Lice Incident of 2014 when Little D picked up les poux from her cousin. It was the first time I’ve experienced lice and it was horrifying. I hate bugs and the thought of creepy-crawlies taking up residence in our hair is just the worst. It took me over a month to get all the lice and nits out of Little D’s hair.
Last year somehow went by without any more encounters of the lice-y kind, so I’ve been lax with my tea tree and coconut oil treatment (see #1 below), which I’m convinced both suffocates and prevents lice from wanting to latch onto hair. That means when the lice outbreak happened in BB’s moyenne section class a couple weeks ago, he of course came home scratching his head. I’ve done three treatments on him so far and one of the rest of us, but I fear it’s not enough because my head is awfully itchy right now. Fortunately, I’m getting my roots done tomorrow and nothing survives that kind of bleaching*. But putain, I hate having to do another round of changing all the sheets, combing out everyone’s hair, putting all the stuffed animals in a garbage bag for two weeks.
Here are some lice tricks I’ve unfortunately had to learn. Add this to the growing list of Things I Never Wanted To Know About But Now Do Because I’m a Mom in France.
- Make a spray of water and tea tree oil for prevention. Because I’m lazy and can never find or buy a spare spray bottle, I usually take a teaspoon of coconut oil and mix a few drops of tea tree oil before slathering it over the kids’ heads before they go out into the lice-y world. The oil makes their hair a little greasy but that also makes it harder for the lice to hang on. You can find tea tree oil at Bio C Bon and Naturalia or order it online at Amazon. Some moms also swear by lavender oil.
- I’ve used a product called Parasidose to kill the lice. It smells good, is thick so doesn’t drip into eyes, and doesn’t have parabens or chemicals. But you have to redo the treatment in two weeks because it doesn’t kill the eggs and it’s a little pricey. The big tube I bought at the pharmacy was €20. And I need about two more! Otherwise, there’s the classic Pouxit XF (extra-fort) treatment.
- Treat the whole family at the same time, even if you’re not sure if someone has lice or not.
- You can also slather your hair in oil or loads of cheap conditioner. I again add a few drops of tea tree oil. Cover with a shower cap and sit around for a couple hours and then wash and comb your hair out.
- Speaking of, get a proper lice comb. The ones they sell with the lice treatments aren’t that effective. The tines are too wide. This one, the ASSY 2000 (I know, that name), has long, tightly packed tines. Ideally, you put a ton of conditioner on the hair and comb it out every 2-3 days for a couple of weeks to be sure you get all the lice in all its horrible forms. Wipe the comb after combing out each section and then boil it after to kill any invisible eggs or lice.
- Change the sheets and pillowcases after every treatment and combing out. Wash them in hot, hot water (60+ C) and tumble dry for at least 20 minutes. This is such a drag, but must be done, though lice apparently can’t survive after 24 hours without feeding.
- Vacuum rugs, couches, even mattresses and do this at the same time as the hair treatment. Put all stuffed animals and objects that can’t be washed into a garbage back for two weeks to suffocate any lice. Either boil hairbrushes, combs, hair accessories or disinfect them with alcohol.
- Keep an eye on your kids’ heads for two weeks after the last treatment. And make sure to keep doing the preventive tea tree oil spray when they go to school or group activities.
If your kids have lice, I feel your pain. Good luck and here’s to our lice-free futures!
Scratchily yours, M
* I’ve since read that bleaching does not kill all the lice!!
Do you have any special tips or tricks for getting rid of lice? Please tell us! Leave a comment here or on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for the latest and greatest from Paris.