There are several ways you can tackle this:
- There are over-the-counter treatments for head lice that you can get at most local pharmacies and grocery stores.
- You can also get a lice comb and pick out the nits and eggs by hand. However, you have to be VERY thorough; one missed egg can mean an re-infestation.
- Depending on where you're located, there are businesses that specialize in lice eradication (my niece just went to one yesterday). The one she went to uses a heat treatment to dry out and kill the eggs and nits, and then combs out the detritus.
- Most folks who've dealt with lice will advise shaving the child's head. This obviously depends on the child and your preferences. It works because lice need the hair to lay eggs and hang onto the hairs; they slide around on smoother surfaces.
- If you don't want to shave the hair, one home remedy is to slather the hair in olive oil at night, cover the head with a shower cap, and smother the little punks. This can take as long as 2 weeks for full effectiveness. You'll also need to comb the hair thoroughly with a lice comb each morning, before washing out the olive oil. (You can also use a thick conditioner or mayonnaise in place of the olive oil.)
Lice cannot survive more than 48 hours without a human host, so you'll need to tackle all bedding and toys as well.
- Wash everything that can be washed, that the child has come into contact with in the last 48 hours, in hot water and then dry on high in the dryer for 30-40 minutes.
- Bag up all stuffed animals, toys, whatnot in plastic garbage bags and set aside for 48-72 hours. Once the time is up, clean everything thoroughly as best you can.
- Clean all furniture that cannot be washed with either a product meant for eradicating lice from furniture or vacuum thoroughly and mist with a mixture of tea tree oil and water (make sure it won't damage the furniture first).
The good thing is, you can eliminate these suckers. The bad thing is, you have to be very thorough 'cause they're sneaky little buggers.
Whichever treatment method you use, make sure you re-check every few days for a few weeks, until you're sure the lice are gone.
Once they're gone, you can help convince them to stay away. Take a clean mister bottle, fill with water and add a small amount of tea tree oil. Shake to mix and spray on your daughter's head each morning. The scent is repellent to lice and they won't move from another child to her head.
And remember: lice are not an indication of a lack of cleanliness or personal hygiene. Lice pass around small children very easily, because kids share personal items and are often in close contact with one another. They're just a pest we have to deal with, since we are social creatures that are yummy to these parasites.