Lice Claim They Need Some Respect

lice story with itching hand

I need to air my recent grievance to the public. Truly, I try to be the wine-glass-is-half-full type of gal, but I had a bomb dropped on me that brought out the cynic in my Syrah.

There is no way to sugarcoat my woe. In fact, I’m pretty sure I would prefer a root canal than wish this on my worst enemy. At least there are drugs that can help you get through mouth surgery. I’d rather have an endless laundry pile rather than experience this again.

Wait, I take that last one back. That’s partially what’s been causing my panic attacks.

Just rip off the Band-Aid, and spit it out…

We had lice. Parasites. An infestation, if you will. The secret L-bomb!

Never before have I so vehemently practiced sterile technique, and I’ve worked inpatient in a children’s hospital.

If you’ve never experienced these little bugs from hell, you will. I hate to be the bearer of horrific news, but it’s inevitable. Either your kids or your grandkids will drop off these itchy nuggets while you’re watching reruns of All in the Family in your comfy living room recliner – and those suckers will klatch onto your hair follicles and (shh!) re-pro-duce.

Oh, yes I’m sure many of you were like me. “I’m too clean to get lice,” I boasted. “They are for peasants and third-world country dwellers!” Well, I’m here to tell you my clean head and various princess heads in the neighborhood have never itched so badly. This pest war has entered my suburb and I’m ticked!

After much personal research and costly visits to the “experts,” I am a professional louse executioner. I might even start up a lice removal version of Stella and Dot jewelry or Jamberry nails home parties.

The reason why I’m jumping on my tea tree oil box is it is about time we stop shaming our kids. I want to break through today’s social barriers and go all “Norma Rae” about kicking the stigma to the curb. I’ll be yelling it from the rooftops, from church steps and various factory union meetings – whatever it takes to get my message out.

Lice is not a four-letter word! (waits for applause)

OK, maybe it is, but shouldn’t we be able to discuss infestation outside of school nurse room curtains and dark alleyways? What’s so shameful about having bugs taking residence on your noggin? I agree it’s gross, but shaming others is unjust. If you are brave enough to discuss it with friends, you will find out that about every house in your zip code has experienced the insanity that comes with the territory.

Especially now, that there are teenaged-mutant lice running rampant in many states. The stories are plastered across all media. These buggers are resistant to over-the-counter drugs. They have built up such resistance to old-school treatment, that everyone’s going to have them. It’s the new fad.

“Did you hear? Becky’s family has lice.”

“No! I’m so jealous! You know that lice is the new black stink bug.”

“Yes, it’s all over Facebook!”

Maybe lice infestation isn’t pleasurable. Unless, you have some twisted love affair with washing every fabric item in your house, vacuuming daily for three weeks, or twice a day picking nits out of your loved one’s tresses.

But can’t we give lice a break? Nits happen. Deal with it, stop the blaming and quit laughing at the downtrodden.

And remember, paybacks are an itch!









Got Lice

previously published in KC Parent magazine in the September 2011 issue

Whether you have them, are treating them or just reading this article, I bet your head starts itching and your face contorts into unphotographic poses by the end.

Even though the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says, “Head lice are not a health hazard or a sign of poor hygiene, and are not responsible for the spread of any disease,” the public still dreads talking about it.

“No healthy child should be excluded from or miss school because of head lice,” says the AAP and advocates that “no-nit policies for return to school should be abandoned. Your child can return to childcare or school after one treatment with anti-lice shampoo.”

As always, check with your medical provider first for advice. Over-the-counter treatments are effective, but it’s mandatory you follow directions explicitly. Also, do NOT over treat. Studies show if some treatments are overused, pests can develop resistance to some of the medications.

Leslie, an Overland Park mom, said she recently had lice in her home. She was brushing her daughter’s hair and saw a louse “moving really fast. I put it on a piece of tape and took it to a practitioner who agreed to start treatment.” Leslie suspected her daughter might have picked it up from sharing t-ball helmets, so she notified the team.

Then she used one of the common lice elimination systems containing shampoo, comb-out gel and the home control spray. Luckily, says Leslie, “It was only a mild case and no one else got it.”

  • Wash all bed linens and clothing that’s been recently worn by anyone in your home who’s infested in very hot water (130° F), then put them in the hot cycle of the dryer for at least 20 minutes.
  • Have bed linens, clothing and stuffed animals and plush toys that can’t be washed put in airtight bags for two weeks.
  • Vacuum carpets and any upholstered furniture (home/car).

(Nemours Foundation)

Lice Facts:

  • The nits (eggs) hatch into lice in one week.
  • Off the scalp, nits can’t survive more than two weeks.
  • Adult lice survive three weeks on the scalp or 24 hours off scalp.
  • A louse is the size of a sesame seed.
  • Live lice can transmit lice to another child.
  • Transmission is from direct head-to-head contact. Lice cannot jump or fly to another person’s hair.
  • Transmission of lice occurs at home, not school or other public places. Sleepovers and bed-sharing are major sources.

(AAP, July 2010)

Stacey Hatton is a pediatric RN and freelance writer.