Recently, friends of mine were out to dinner when their youngest daughter said, “My head is itching!” and proceeded to scratch her scalp like a dog with a bad case of fleas. Immediately, everyone piled into the restroom to confirm their suspicions. Sure enough, a sesame seed-like bug was crawling behind her ear, and with that discovery, dinner was boxed up and the family hustled out the door. The car ride home was very quiet except for the muffled sobs of mom and child.
For anyone that has been through this scenario, it can be terrifying, overwhelming and shameful. It usually happens when your house is spotless and all the laundry is folded and put away.
If you happen to be one of these parents, don’t panic! You are still a great parent! The very fact you didn’t make your child ride in the back of the pickup in mid- November proves it! Head lice can run rampant anytime and anywhere. Watch some small children playing. They always have their heads close together, no sense of personal space at all. Aside from making your child wear one of those huge satellite-dish dog collars, or screaming “Remember the bubble!” when you see your little one getting cozy, here are a few tips:
1. Invest in the electronic comb. It costs about thirty dollars but the peace of mind it gives is priceless because every time your child scratches their head for the next month your blood pressure will skyrocket. Having an electronic comb eases delusions and zaps the real thing.
2. The comb-out is very important. Let your child have ice cream at nine o’clock at night if that means they will stay still for another ten minutes.
3. Wash everything; coats, towels, pillowcases and sheets in hot water and on dry clothes on high heat for 20 more minutes than usual. Whatever can’t be washed, seal in trash bags for a couple of weeks. Removing thirty stuffed animals can really open up the feng-shui of your child’s room. Sometimes those bags never come back.
4. Remember hairbrushes, clips, combs and bands. Soak them in boiling water for 10 minutes or seal them in a Ziploc bag for 72 hours. Lice die without a head to call a home after 48 hours. I give it an extra day just to be safe.
5. Let the parents of your kids best buddies know what’s going on. There is no need to shout it from the rooftops, but communication is essential so that it doesn’t get passed back and forth through a classroom or daycare. Lice are a lot more prevalent than when we were kids and people are understanding and grateful that you told them.
6. Don’t forget that if you used the pesticide, 8-10 days later you have to repeat the shampoo and comb-out and the laundry and the hairbrush sterilization. Lice have a nasty little life cycle and the pesticide doesn’t kill the eggs. That is why the second step is so important, also using stainless steel lice and egg removal combs help speed the process along.
7. Lice like clean hair. Spritz your child’s head with a little hairspray and putting hair in braids or under a hat lessens the chance of your child contracting head lice.
8. One adult louse can lay 3-6 eggs per day. Check the nape of the neck and behind the ears and comb thoroughly. This is where the electronic comb is handy. Dry hair only.
9. Vacuum your car and carpets after you have treated all the hair in the house and washed your 92 loads of laundry.
10. Treat yourself to a bubble bath or some chocolates. Getting yourself to relax and not flip out is key,(more cheers for the electronic comb!) Hopefully you will have rid the critters for good. Good Luck and Lice to never see you again!