Help with Lice

Updated on February 08, 2007
S.A. asks from Spokane, WA
14 answers

Ok so I have a stepdaughter age 5 and we have been dealing with lice pretty much non stop since she was 15 months old. We have contacted CPS and the response we get is get an attourney. We cannot afford an attourney and the only response we get from her mom is that she is "trying" well I feel like our hands are tied and dont know what we should do. We now have a 1 year old and I am deathly afraid of her getting it but I dont want my stepdaughter to feel shunned. What do I do? Since some people seem to think I am being unreasonable let me tell you what We have done thus far to help.... I spent and entire weekend of my time that we had visitation cleaning the bio mom's house. I have also cleaned the mother's hair along with little sister's. My husband and I have spend several hundreds of dollars on special shampoo, natural oils, special combs, new pillows, laundry etc. Also, just to let you know we actually get along with the mother and she knows we have saught advice in this situation. So for those who think I am just being mean or vindictive check out what we have already done and give me a suggestion on how long we are supposed to give grace to this situation. For those whom have given ideas on what we can do to treat this thank you.

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answers from Portland on

ok the best thing to do that can help keep them from continueing is to put tea tree oil in her shampoo. Use a solution of about 20 drops of tea tree oil mixed with about1/4 cup of babyoil, let this sit on her hair for 30 minutes with saran wrap around it. wash it out with a good shampoo with tea tree oil in it and then brush the nits out with a nit comb. send her back to her moms with shampoo with tea tree oil added to it. The lice hate the stuff and wont come back if she uses it at every bath. here are a few other mixes of the tea tree oil. I swear it is proven to keep the lice away.

I do childcare and we have had lice outbreaks amoung the care kids and mine never get a single bug. You can buy tea tree oil in the pharmacy section of most stores you can also buy shampoo with tea tree oil already in it. The chemical treatments are all really dangerous. Good luck.

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answers from Seattle on

Sounds like the main care giver isn't washing every single thing in their household. They need to put just about everything in the washer and/or dryer. Some one needs to stay home with her and get rid of it once and for all-picking out the nits with a comb and by hand. I was told by my hair stylist that once lice is gone you should use some mousse and hairspray everyday. Lice don't like that. Shampoo that smells great to us -they hate (coconut, apple, etc.)
I was a director of a large childcare center and every time there was a break out I loaded up on hair product. I still use hair product on my kids everyday. I buy the detangling spray. My 3 kids have never had lice.
What if you offer to take her for one week and make it your responsibility to get rid of it?

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answers from Las Vegas on

My best friend had the same prob with her step kids and also contacted CPS. They told her there wasnt anything they would do. When she would pick them up, they always had lice. They would drive to get them, have to wash their hair in the hotel, clean everything before they got them home. All I can suggest is that you make sure that anything she brings with her is washed when you get to your house, spray your car, and get rid of it as soon as you get in the door. The mother is not washing everything and or not picking the nits out of her hair. Try vasoline in her hair. put it on and put a shower cap on it and leave it for two days. Then, wash it out, and pick all the nits out with a lice comb. Make sure everything of hers is cleaned. (brushes, stuffed animals, hairties, everything!) When she starts school, maybe things will change. The school will not let her come back without showing the empty lice shampoo bottles. When she starts to miss school from it, maybe the school will do something.



answers from Los Angeles on

Does your stepdaughter go to kindergarten yet?...if so you may want to speak to the school about the problem and suggest they call CPS and let them know what the situation is with mom. Allowing your stepdaughter to continue with this problem is child neglect on her mothers part.



answers from Seattle on

did you file a complaint with cps? if not you should I would also get a lawyer and get that child out of there..That is just gross having to deal with that for so long. her mother needs her behind kicked..I believe you can patition the courts to have a change in coustody..If i were you I 'd do it in a minute. good luck..her father can also work with the Fathers Help line..get in contact with them as well..



answers from Spokane on

I can't believe that CPS told you to get an attorney and I am here to let to know that neither will be able to help the little girl get rid of the lice!!! Many of my friends and me included have had the curse of lice. It has over run the schools and daycares and the big problem is that the lice of today have become resistant to the insecticides that are available today. There is not too much which can be done except to be aggressive with the treatment of lice. First of all, get a hold of the HEALTH DEPARTMENT in your city as this is what they are there for and will have all the information you need to educate yourself about lice and the latest ways to dealwith them. Secondly...use this information to help the birth mom get rid of the lice. It is hard because I have been through it and short of shaving a childs head and throwing out pillows and blankets, you just have to go through the head EVERYDAY to remove any eggs or lice that may have been missed the last time. Lice shampoos are POISON so a child can't be treated with them constantly. The best weapon is a good, metal lice comb and to wash or replace the bedding. I also would put the new bedding in the dryer on high every morning just to make sure. Be agressive and go the extra step to help that lady out instead of calling people. Having lice is not a crime and Im sure the Mom didnt give them to her daughter on purpose. Give her a break!



answers from Seattle on

Oh dear...I SOOO feel for you. We went through this same situation a few years ago, when my twin step-daughters had issues with lice for like 2 years. It was horrible. Anyway, the final thing I did was the vaseline in the hair thing. I put vaseline in their hair, put a shower cap on, and left it on overnight. I then washed it out (and let me warn is NOT easy to wash out of the took MANY attempts to get it all out). Their mom was PISSED that we took that measure, but we didn't worked. Anyway, that was the thing that finally seemed to work, and they haven't had the lice since (that was 4 years ago). Best of luck to you!



answers from San Luis Obispo on

Dear S. A. ,

Well, for one thing, I am wondering if your stepdaughter's birth mother realizes that she has to clean the sheets, blankets, pillows, and things that are in contact with her daughter - like hats, sweaters, and so on. I don't know the correct detergent or soap for her to use, the local health dept can tell you. It is a very big job and maybe you can volunteer to help her, although that might not be o.k. with you or her. Just a thought.

I used to work in a Migrant Camp and was in charge of a day care center tht took care of the Migrant's children so that they could work. We found lice once in a while, because we always had a certain time to check for them in the Center. One time we had a little girl that had hair so clean that it was SHINEY !! and so silky and pretty looking, she was dressed up so well and her body and clothing were clean - but, she had a huge amount of lice in her hair. It shocked all of us. It is just something that happens when a lot of children are together,and the weather is right. The lice are not killed by just any shampoo. It has to be the medicated type, you probably already know all of this. But I am writing it just in case. ALSO, you have to brush the 'nits' out of the child's hair. They are dead by this time, and it is a good idea to brush their hair outside. The shampoo package usually has a special comb that is very fine. It works well, but it takes time.

The most important thing that I can tell you is that Lice are not harmful to the baby, but the strong lice shampoo might be, so just ask your doctor. They know the right thing to do and will give you good advice. Please do not fret so much. With all of the lice that I saw, I never did get it. Of course, none of them were my brothers and sisters and I was not in close touch with them the way a family is.

I hope that I helped you. Good Luck and I am so glad that your family enjoys things together. Hooray for you all.
C. N.



answers from Louisville on

Maybe you or your husband could offer to help the bio-mom out with a big cleaning of her home. I know that money is often tight, but even if you all pitched in as a family and scrubbed the house, laundered all the sheets, and got things under control over there (combined with a de-lousing for each of you) it would help. I know you don't want to make your step-daughter feel like there is something wrong with her, so maybe if you spoke had both her bio-dad and bio-mom do a delousing of themselves(and you too, depending on the relationship) while cleaning the house it will make her feel like it's not something wrong with her. Plus, it's an opportunity to let her know that even though your families are separate, when something isn't right, you all pitch in to solve the problem together, which could be a pretty positive message. Good luck!



answers from Bakersfield on

I had this problem with my daughter when she started school we couldn't keep her from getting close to the other kids. So anyway...Have you heard of Melaleuca? It will get rid of the lice. Her mom needs wash everything in hot water too. If you put the oil on her head and cover it with a plastic bag it will really do the trick. Plus it wont hurt her or her hair. Those other products will damage her hair and never worked for my daughter. If you need help finding Melaleuca please let me know.



answers from Los Angeles on

There are attorneys that work through legal aid services through the local community or county offices and for low income people on a sliding scale fee schedule and a pay off If your husband's ex-wife can't be bothered to try a little harder, it might be worth the money in the long run to try and get custody of this child. If she can't work a little harder at this issue, what else is she not trying at? I would be more than a little afraid about what other hygiene issues are getting let go. Is the child being fed spoiled food? Is she wearing dirty clothes? She could end up with scabies or ringworm, or worse and you don't want those issues in your home either. I think that you should ask around about attorneys before you close the door completely on that issue.



answers from Portland on

My niece went through this problem we actually used mayo. We would put alot of it in her long hair before bed then plastic bag her head let her go to sleep and wash in the morning. But like most of the other responses have said the whole house has to be decontaminated including the carpets. Through away her brushes and any hair ties need to washed in very hot water boiling them maybe. If the house of the bio-mother is dirty and cps won't do anything to help i would call the heath depatment and housing athaurity(sp?) lol. They should be able to help with trying to get her out of that situation. i hope this helps and good luck!!!!



answers from Portland on

Actually, the school will check her head for nits before they will let her return. The parent could bring in an empty bottle that they did not use on that child.

Are there other lack of care concerns for your step-daughter's welfare? Is she safe and healthy except for the lice? Is the house reasonably clean, free of spoiled food and rotten garbage. Are there mice? How about animal feces on the floor. Does your step-daughter get enough to eat? Is she adequately supervised? Has she had her immunizations? If not, you may be able to get them involved after you list and document several concerns.

You might also be able to have a public health nurse make a home visit and offer to help the mother stop the cycle.

As to not affording a lawyer, you can get one from Legal Aid on a sliding fee scale. Or you can talk with one who specializes in child custody issues to ask for advice. Usually the first visit is free. You only start paying once the attorney and you determine that he can help you.

And do not bring up the issue of custody when talking with CPS, public health, or any other government agency when asking for help. It is too easy for them to assume that you are trying to use them to get custody and they do not want to be involved in a custody battle.

I'd suggest that you make taking a bath along with washing her hair a no big deal routine when she comes to your house. I've not heard about the tea tree oil but if that works it's ideal. Then use a nit comb and make a game of getting rid of the nits. Put all of her things that are washable in the washer. Make it a fun game. My 6 yo granddaughter is very aware of "things" that make people sick and would love that game. Also I think lice make the head itchy and she would like to get rid of the itch.

You could have a separate set of clothes and toys at your house that are also part of the routine of coming to your house. My granddaughter has toys here and often doesn't even bring over any from her house. And I keep clothes for her here. Those clothes do go back and forth but they wouldn't have to. She comes over nearly every Friday after school and frequently asks to have a bath. She loves water.

I know that doesn't deal with the problem of getting the mother to take responsibility. But it will help you to keep the lice out of your house.

I may be way off base here but has your husband talked with his ex about the lice and what can be done and offered his help? Compassionate conversation often leads to problem solving. To work, one has to have patience and a real concern for the other person's difficulties. It may take several conversations especially if there has been fights prior to this.

I hope this helps and I hope that you can find a way to get rid of the lice. M.



answers from Los Angeles on

I feel for you. Iv'e been in your shoes a few summers back. Every time my daughter would return from vacationing with her father, she returned with lice. Her hair is very long and it became expensive. I was also concerned because we had pets. I called our vet and she said, pets can catch the lice as well, and to buy flea shampoo for cats because it kills lice. She also indicated that she has used the pet shampoo on her children. I baught the biggest bottle they had, and washed the cats, the child and my self. It worked better than RID. I gave a bottle to her father and asked him to use it once a week while she vacations with him. He did, and he gave it to his sister inlaw and the lice problem stopped.

Good luck

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