Just when you think things are running smoothly, then – BAM – you receive that head lice note from school. Which reads like this “please note that we have a suspected lice outbreak at school and so we would like to suggest that you check your child’s hair and treat if necessary.” Instead of being calm and handling the situation like an adult should; all hell breaks loose.
Look I’m not oblivious to the fact that kids bring bugs home when they attend school. I can handle it but what I can’t handle is the idea of lice crawling on my child’s head. Like seriously, the thought of it makes me squirm and itch. Touch wood; my kids have never had lice but I freak out and transform into a germaphobe when I receive these notes from school.
Believe me this is any parents worse nightmare and therefore I go completely OCD. I check my girls’ hair using a bright light, not leaving one strand unnoticed. Anything from fluff to dandruff is a suspect for nits and goes under a magnifying glass. I become so badass that this is the part my kids dread. Of course this exercise results in long crocodile tears as I inspect and reinspect using a fine metal tooth comb.
I then spray their scalps with an anti-lice maintenance spray to fend against any possible infestation. For a clear view of any crawling bugs on the scalp; two pigtails or two side braids are the required hairstyles. Not forgetting that during this process my own head starts itching and I request that my hair be inspected. This goes on for days until things have settled.
Bedding and pillowcases gets ripped off and washed in warm water. Same goes for towels, scarves, caps, school uniform and those poor stuffed animals. Then tumble dried on high heat and placed in a vacuum sealed bag. Should there be any crawling bugs, the living hell would be suffocated out of them. Soaking all combs, brushes and hair accessories in hot water too.
A complete spring clean takes place. Vacuuming mattresses, furniture, floors and cars. Disinfecting and sanitizing things that don’t require it but just to be on the safe side.
My kids are huggers and therefore I ban them from hugging anyone during this time just in case their heads touch. Head lice do not fly or jump but they crawl. They are highly contagious and we all know how quickly those buggers can spread. Therefore I also strictly instruct my kids not to share anything that came into contact with the head.
Some of you might think that I am over top in how I am handling this seeing that my girls don’t actually have lice. Ok maybe I am. But in my defence, who the hell would just let something like this slide. Can you just imagine how I will react if I actually discover those bloodsucking parasites crawling on my daughters’ heads.
You see head lice don’t discriminate. They not choosy of their victims. It is not a gender specific, dirty hair or poor person’s problem. So whether you wash hair daily, have straight, coarse or curly hair – they will make themselves very comfortable on your head. It is nothing to be embarrassed about but for some reason there is still this stigma attached to it.
Pay attention if your child starts scratching his/her head profusely. Start inspecting and look out for sores on the scalp, nits which look like tiny sesame seeds and can be mistaken for dandruff. It is easier to spot the aforementioned than actual head lice crawling. It is advisable to use a fine metal tooth comb when checking for lice. Check and recheck. And if you spot anything, start treatment immediately and clean hair accessories and clothing items. Head lice live off sucking the blood from the human scalp; and will die within 24 hours once off the human head. For that reason it advised to clean household items that came into contact with the head.
Oh and for goodness sake do not use remedies like mayonnaise, vinegar, butter and paraffin and heaven knows what else to rid of head lice. Regular shampoo will also not do the trick. Use specific head lice treatment obtained from your local pharmacy. Repeat treatment where necessary.
Please note that this is not a medical problem and does not require you to take your child to the doctor or emergency room. Unless of course your child has sores on the scalp that has become infected. Remember to notify the school or anyone your child has been in contact with immediately.
Good luck and remember it is ok if you go totally bonkers or choose to stay calm throughout the entire process – what’s important is that you bust the problem and become lice free.