Run! It’s lice!

I guess at some point in America’s history, lice was public health issue that carried a stigma. Now, it just seems to be added to the list of elementary school rites of passage. As a parent, you hear about lice as if it’s a foreign country, and then one day, it’s here, and your little child has it!

Our first and current experience started one Monday with a call from the school nurse. Eight kids out of 20+ had lice or nits (the lice eggs) and I was asked if I would pick her up and bring her home. That night, we gave her special shampoo from the drug store, and the following day took her to a hair lice specialist called Hair Fairies (is there no job too specialized that someone can’t open a storefront to address it?). Ninety minutes later, my daughter was pronounced clear of nits and could go back to school. Luckily this very expensive trip to the hair salon is covered by many insurance companies (and a petition effort is underway to make insurance coverage mandatory). It will require two more visits of an hour each to make sure no microscopic eggs have grown large enough to be seen, to make sure the problem is gone.

A few things I learned along the way:

  1. When you get the call, act fast, get the shampoo and start the treatment. Nits are a pain, but what is worse is full-on lice, which can jump form child to child to mom, dad, dog, cat and around the neighborhood turning your house, sheets, upholstery into a mini epidemic site. Lice jump from head to head and lay eggs, jump off and lay more eggs.
  2. Nits are not contagious the same way lice are, but they can be picked up by other people. Our “hair fairy” said that many moms especially, who often get stuck with the “nit-picking” often go through the scalp and then scratch their own heads, moving the microscopic eggs from head to head. The nits can also fall on pillows and be transmitted that way.
  3. Take this seriously. If you’ve never had any exposure, you’ll probably think it’s another thing easily fixed by a medicine or home remedy. It’s not. It takes a week or two of vigilance if you just have nits, and turns the household upside down if something more. It’s a community problem and everyone needs to jump in to stamp it out as quickly as possible to stop it.
  4. Natural oils are available to put on the scalp that “scare away” the lice. You may want to find some of this stuff before sending your child on the next group sleep-over, which is, by the way, probably the best way to be exposed.

2 thoughts on “Run! It’s lice!

  • May 8, 2009 at 1:20 am
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    “When you get the call, act fast, get the shampoo and start the treatment”

    Just make sure you NEVER use lindane for head lice. It’s very toxic and does not work anyways.

    A good metal tooth lice comb and some patience is all thats needed.

    And hopefully your childs school has a no nit policy.

  • May 13, 2009 at 6:58 pm
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    1. Lice DO NOT jump. They crawl very fast. It is anatomically impossible for a louse to jump.
    2. Nits ARE NOT contageous. There is no such thing as a microscopic nit that can be transmitted to another person. The only way to get lice is from a live louse crawling onto your head.
    3. Lice (we are talking about head lice) is a human parasite. It can not live on dogs, cats, pets, etc. Only humans.
    4. Lice can not live off of a human scalp for more than 24 hours. Vacuuming, washing sheets, boiling brushes/combs, and putting stuffed animals in the dryer for 30 minutes is enough cleaning.
    5. The most important thing to do is get everyone in the family checked. You should also tell everyone you have been in contact with to get their head checked.
    6. Mint is a natural lice repellant. This is not a 100% guarantee that you will never get lice but it does help keep them away.
    7. There is no product out there that can kill a nit. The only way to kill nits is by removing them either with a nit comb or with your fingers.
    8. There is no need to use toxic chemicals to kill lice. A natural enzyme based product is the fastest, cleanest and most effective way to kill live lice.
    For more information please visit http://www.fairylicemothers.com or call 866-561-0492

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