Let’s talk about LICE, Baby! 

So, as you can see, our last two weeks have been an adventure! Is your head itching yet? Not kidding at all! Strep last week, lice this week, feeling like the plague may be next.

Since last Friday, I have looked like this, every day, for over an hour a day:

monkey nitpicking

We’ve isolated the kids for an entire weekend, though only one of three had it. We kept people out of our house, though thankfully, we could blame it on strep.  I washed all sheets, clothes, coats, pillows,  and more, every day since last Friday. What we did for one, we did for all, just in case, so yes – that’s 5 beds stripped (thanks to bunk beds in one room), 5 heads combed, and more…just in case. We even shaved a 2-year old’s beautiful surfer blond shag, while I cried, as a precaution, since it was easier to work through the combing process.  When I realized that I couldn’t get all the nits out on my own, we even took the extra precaution of going to a professional service, just in case.

The simple truth is that lice happens to everyone, and it happens in bunches, and there’s not a damn thing that you can do about it. Schools don’t know what to do, parents don’t know what to say, and through simple silence, it spreads and spreads and spreads.  It spreads through shared hairbrushes or barrettes, through shared baseball caps or helmets, or even through something as simple as a hug. Has your kid ever done this?

The head hug?

Here’s what I’ve learned through this fascinating ordeal:

  • Lice Just Happens:  You really can’t do anything to stop it.  You can spend a fortune on prevention, but under the “right” circumstances, those pesky buggers are going to find a way on little heads.  There’s no truly effective policy on lice in schools.  Professional services (who average about $150/session) firmly recommend “nit-free” policies. Yet, the CDC and American Pediatric Association have strongly communicated that “nit-free” policies do not stop the spread of lice and are disruptive, embarrassing, and isolating to the kids.  They feel treatment and maintenence (the follow through after treatment) is generally sufficient.
  • Speak up!!!! – The reason lice spreads so quickly to so many kids is because no one wants to admit they have it.  Parents will quietly treat what they can, hope it’s gone, and not admit when they need help. The stigma – that automatic step away from a family dealing with it – is horrible.  So since you feel like you can’t talk or ask others for advice, you can’t learn from others and may unknowingly be infesting others if you didn’t quite get your kid clean the first time.
  • Use the School Megaphone – Schools may send a notice to parents in one class, but kids don’t play in isolation!  In our school, multiple classes recess together which mean there are multiple ways to spread lice from class to class. This lovely nuisance also spreads within families, so for multi-child families, you literally are playing the odds if you think the other kids won’t get it. Our school has been dealing with this issue for over a month, as it spread from class to class, but in isolation, no one knew the extent or continued existence of lice in the school. They have finally sent a broader notice since it has been found in multiple classrooms, but at this point, who knows the final count.
  • Check That Head! – If you see a notice from school, or hear from another parent, CHECK YOUR KIDS’ HAIR!!!! Buy one of those fine-tooth combs, look for a nit or two. If you find something, you are more than entitled to have one of those moments of total, gagging, freak out, hysterical giggling/crying. Then, take care of it. The earlier you catch it, the easier it is to treat.
  •  Oh, and CHECK YOUR HEAD! – ‘Cause, yes. My name is Diana, and I had a lovely case of “mom” lice, as the professional nitpicker (seriously, that’s their professional name) checked me JUST IN CASE.
  • It really takes a week or more – One of the main reasons why people insist OTC remedies don’t work is because they don’t follow through with checking/combing out the nits that are left after the first treatment. Even professional service companies will only guarantee their work IF you then continue to comb the kids’ hair for 7 to 10 days after they see you. OTC remedies kill the live bugs, but the nits (the little eggs) that remain, can still hatch and then grow into adults, causing continued trouble.
  • You will survive –  I can safely say, one full week after doctors AND professional services confirmed that we are not contagious, that you will survive lice.  Really, you will!  You got this, and you are not alone!

So have fun itching your head.  Because reading about lice will likely leave you scratching your head, and when it doubt, check that head! Check that head! (Queue the music for “Shake it off” by Taylor Swift.)

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