This is a quick guide for young parents who are dealing with lice for the first time. I assure you, although you may feel alone, you are not. Look at it like a badge of honor you are earning toward true parenthood. You will get through this and things will be okay. I know, as a mom with three kids, it is something I have had to deal with in the past and every September, as school starts, the fear sets in. But I know that if my child gets lice, I will just take these steps below. You can as well, and if your child narrowly escapes a class break out, read on to find out how to fend lice off in the future. This is what I have learned through my experiences.
Do Not Freak Out About Head Lice
All kids can get lice. It is not the dirty kids who get it (in fact, quite the opposite actually as evidenced in such sources as If you Have Clean Hair, You Are More Likely to Experience the Effects of Head Lice) and there is no reason to feel guilty or blame yourself for the fact that lice is in your family. But, as I have learned from sad experience, you will want to keep it as quiet as possible, because as I am sure you might know, people are mean. Do not imagine that your head is itching and that you have lice just because your child has lice: you probably don’t. However, to this day, my head itches just at the mention of the word (and my similarly experienced friends have admitted the same). It is a mind game. If your family gets lice, do not burn your heads by overtreating. It will only make you itch more! Also, do not hop the next plane to Tijuana. You can handle this. Trust me, you can and you will.
Determine if One of Your Children Has Lice
First thing is first. Does your child really have lice? If the nurse sent him or her home, you have it. If not, carefully and bravely look through your child’s hair. Do you see bugs or just white eggs? They will not be flakes and if you blow on them, they will not fly away. This is dandruff and is very common in kids and adults alike. Lice will be evidenced by white or yellowish pods around or close to the hair follicle, sticking to the hair stubbornly. If you only see the eggs and no bugs, you are luckily just in an early phase and getting rid of this pestilence will not be as difficult.
Choose a Lice Treatment and Be Thorough
My most recommended option would just be to go to the grocery store or pharmacy and get a lice treatment. Yes, it is chemicals, but you are hopefully only going to use it very few times in your child’s life. Use it on your child and then in two weeks, use it again (do not skip this step). Comb all the nits out of your child’s hair (also very important). Do everything you can to make sure you followed the proper instructions. If you think you or other family members may have lice, do the treatment on everyone. This, if nothing else, will give you reassurance that it is gone. You will need it for your own mental health! Be advised that the treatments themselves can make your head itchy afterward, so keep this in perspective.
Do Not Blame People for Having Lice
Do not blame people for giving you lice, having lice, having lice again. It is a medieval creature and has been around for centuries. It is no one’s fault. However, that being said, take lice seriously. Do everything you can to eradicate lice and don’t take it lightly or it will come back. Do not make a habit of going around others who are known to have lice or who are taking the treatment of lice lightly; for your own good. However, be kind. When my family had lice, a good friend gave me a hug in public. It was perhaps one of the most poignant acts of kindness I have ever received.
Sequester Yourself If You Have Lice
If you have lice, do not go visit family members or let your kids go on play dates to other people’s houses. They do not want you there! Be conscientious of others. Wait a week or even two weeks before you rule that you are out of the woods in this regard. If you cancel all your many activities, or at least the ones you can cancel, you will have time to deal with this crisis. Use the school nurse as your ally. They are usually very helpful and not judgmental at all. Do not be the mom that other people will dread seeing coming. Be sensitive to the fears of others so your kids do not get labeled as the children with lice that keep coming to all the birthday parties. Tell your children not to hug other children when they have lice, or use people’s hairbrushes, etc. However, do not make your child feel like they have a disease! This will all be over soon and forgotten.
“Clean” Your House to Eradicate Lice
Okay. Here is the hard part and the part that I feel caused me the most stress. I went rampant through my house cleaning everything, vacuuming everything and yes, I was crying. Now, here are some secrets. All this is not necessary. First fact, lice cannot live without a host for over 48 hours (as evidenced on the very informative head lice page at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website). So if you leave a room that you think may be infested with lice alone for 48 hours without people in it, all the lice will be dead. If you have pillows, stuffed animals, etc., bag them up in garbage bags, and let them set for over two weeks. At that time, even the eggs will have hatched and the new lice will be dead. Here’s the secret. Adult lice will die if there is no host. They may have laid eggs. These eggs will hatch in two weeks (thus the need for the second treatment). These will be baby lice, not mature lice, so they cannot reproduce. If they do not find a host in 48 hours of hatching, they, too will die. You will be lice free. Also remember, a good way to disinfect certain items is the dryer. It kills lice if set on high. Throw your children’s personal items and clothes in the dryer and you will be okay.
Take Measures to Ward off Lice in the Future
Now that you are free from lice, you will want to keep checking your child’s head regularly for nits. As soon as you see any sign of lice, you know what to do. Do not let it get to the point where you see live bugs if you can help it. If you do see many live bugs, you may need to consult your doctor. This means you have had lice for perhaps a long time and may need to take more serious steps. Some things you can do to make sure your children do not get lice in the future are as follows. There is a whole line of products called Fairy Tales, which you can use for little girls’ long hair. They are truly luxurious and great smelling products and you will want to always have some on hand, although a little pricey. You can also use Sauve Coconut Shampoo and Conditioner. I have heard that lice hate both the smell of coconut and rosemary, as suggested in the article How to Prevent Head Lice with Cheap Coconut Shampoo and Conditioner. I can only say that it has seemed to work for us. If you have boys, cut their hair short during lice season. Educate your children on lice and tell them not to hug other kids during lice outbreaks, use other people’s hats or hairbrushes. Good luck!