"What do you mean by 'bugs,' Dr Corinne?"
Do I mean viruses? Yes! Do I mean bacteria? Yes! And do I mean Ukus? Absolutely yes. For all of you not in Hawaii, "ukus" are lice. Those creepy crawly ickies that cling to the scalp and suck your blood and lay their eggs in hard to find places and leave behind an annoying scratch that is contagious even to those who have not caught the ukus.
Are you scratching yet?
If you can't tell, we have had personal experience with ukus in our house at least once every year since my kids started preschool 4 years ago. The teacher at the school told me the first year that "some kids are more prone to getting it than others." While I really wanted to believe this was true, I haven't found any evidence to support it. I think the more likely answer is that my kids have wild, curly hair that they refuse to wear back and they "play like puppies" as one teacher put it.
Lice are transmitted by crawling fast from one head to another. They do not jump or fly, they rarely live longer than a day off a human body and it is not likely that their eggs are transmitted from a carpet to a head. The mostly likely way that a person gets lice is by spending a significant amount of time in close contact to the head of an infected person such as lying in bed together, playing and rolling on the floor together or sharing hats. There are many treatments available for lice, the most common of which are insecticides such as Pyrethrin and Permethrin. While studies show that these are effective, there is growing resistance and some concern about possible toxicity, especially to the nervous system. Ivermectin has also been approved by the FDA and is effective even without combing.
Each time my kids has gotten lice, I have successfully treated them with natural treatments and without the need of a potentially neurotoxic medication. I've tried MANY different home and store-bought remedies from mayonnaise and olive oil to listerine and tea tree oil. I have come to find that one rises above all others. I make no money from mentioning them and am doing so purely out of my desire to share my painfully learned experiences with you. So here's Dr De Soto's tried and true Uku treatment protocol:
Follow its directions exactly as it says. It's a week long treatment that includes application of product, thorough combing and daily quick checks.
While the kid's hair is soaking, change all their bedding (and yours if they still climb in to bed with you), wash with hot water and dry, vacuum carpets and put any stuffed animals they sleep with or play regularly with in to the dryer for 30min.
Wash carseat covers and/or vacuum the back seat where they sit.
In stubborn cases where they seem to keep coming back, the most helpful thing I have done is to rotate where the kids sleep (one night in their bed, one night on the floor, one night on the couch etc) with different bedding in each location so that 3 days pass before they come back to the same bed again. This keeps you from needing to rewash bedding again and again and it keeps them from reinfecting themselves if you missed something.
This may seem involved (and it is) so if you're not willing and able to really commit and get it under control within a few short days, then I believe it is really only fair to your kid's school and playmates that you use a stronger medicated treatment to kill both live lice and nits straight away. The bonus to the natural treatment though is that your house gets good and clean!
Good luck to you, I have sympathy for your struggle!