I love tea tree oil. Love. This little bottle is pretty much an entire summer med kit (minus band-aids). Today's lesson: using it to kill lice.
I came across tea tree three years ago, when I discovered that my older son (then three years old) had head lice.
A word of background: my son has Asperger's. When he turned three he knew all of his letters, knew the sounds they made, was learning to sight read, could add small numbers, could recite a bunch of books and whole cartoon episodes from memory, but could not actually tell us when something was wrong.
So, how did I find out that he had head lice? I figured it out when I discovered that I HAD HEAD LICE. Oh, and that discovery wasn't exactly easy. I thought I was having an allergic reaction to my shampoo. I went through three shampoos, two conditioners, and two visits to my doctor before I finally found one of the little blood sucking bastards on my hand in the shower.
I freaked. We cut little man's hair really short, but that wasn't really an option for me, since I didn't want to look like G.I. Jane.
I got one of those lice removal kits from the store (can you believe that it cost $25??). Other than the steep price, there were several problem with it:
1) The cheap-crap plastic comb in the kit was no match for my massive mane of doom.
2) Apparently if you are allergic to rag weed (like me) this stuff makes you feel like you can't breathe and have to scramble for your husband's inhaler.
3) IT DIDN'T KILL THE LITTLE FIENDS. SERIOUSLY?! F@%$ers are harder to kill than Bieber music.
To the internet! While I was having a nice little spaz-fest on a message board, a lovely woman from England informed me that Americans freak out way too much about lice, and that they are pretty easy to get rid of. She was the person to tell me about tea tree oil. I don't know her real name or anything, but I know that I love her.
Here's how you get rid of lice with tea tree oil:
1) Go to the pharmacy. Find some tea tree oil (about $8-9 for a good sized bottle).
2) While you are at the pharmacy, look for METAL lice combs. They are made by the same company that makes the lice remover kits. Usually you get two sizes in one pack and can use them forever. (I couldn't find them at first, but a pharmacy employee found them in a jiffy). (Oh, and they cost less than $10 and appear to be indestructible).
3) At home, mix a tablespoon of tea tree oil with a quarter cup of your favorite conditioner.
4) In the shower, put a ton of the mixture into your hair and sit there for a few minutes. Try to imagine the tiny, tortured screams of the dying lice. It helps.
5) Rinse out the conditioner, then get out and dry off. Find a comfortable place to sit (preferably on the floor. If one of the little blood suckers escapes you can vacuum it right up). Take out your new combs and follow the package instructions.
I did this every day for several days. Almost all of the lice were dead the first day, and ALL were dead the second. The days after that I was mainly removing dead nits and eggs.
Since lice eggs hatch after around two weeks, I did this again two weeks later. I found NOTHING.
Wash any sheets, clothes, and towels you use in water as hot as possible to kill any left over bugs, and vacuum rugs and upholstered furniture frequently. Lice don't live more than a couple of days away from your body heat and blood supply, so putting stuffed toys into a sealed trash bag for a week or so will ensure that they are lice free when you take them out again.
That woman was right. This was way easier than I thought it would be. Of course, that doesn't mean I want to go through it again. Yuck.