A post on Lice? In a blog about shirts and stripes? Yup. I felt it was about time for this PSA, since many of my customers, readers, friends are parents with school age kids. In other words, will likely encounter the joys of LICE sometime in their future.
This is a brutally honest run down of our experience and what we learned, consider it something to book mark. This level of info just isn’t easily shared – or accessed – in Facebook.
Mid last January, my oldest daughter was scratching, a lot. My Mom even warned, asked, and I was convinced it was a new nervous habit and/or dry winter air. So likely 3 weeks went by with this “new nervous tick” until a day in Michael’s under their powerful flourescent lights when I literally saw things moving in my kids head.
I freaked out, and was immediately disgusted, horrified, and very itchy myself. I went immediately to CVS and bought their high strength lice shampoo and then went home, and attacked both daughters heads, and my own, and did about 17 loads of laundry. Sure enough, we were a Lice House.
After that experience, here’s what I’ve learned and some pretty effective tips:
- Do buy the drug store brand lice shampoo – you want to get that stuff on its way to dead asap.
- But order Happyheads online. It was a great – albeit – expensive package of shampoo, conditioner/combing solution, and deterrent oil. Love the stuff, it works. But it takes a few days to arrive, thus all the other stuff
- Things like olive oil or mayo, didn’t seem to work for us.
- You will think you kicked it after a few treatments – they will come back. We battled lice from mid Jan to early March – one return visit, but this time, only to the oldest’s head
- They don’t love to hop around, move from their source, but if you hug your kids, cuddle close, sleep with them, YOU will have the crawlies in your head too.
- I did. There, I said it out loud. I had lice last Winter. It was disgusting. Horrifying. But it happens, to more people than you think.
- No need to wash every surface/blanket/pillow in your home. Tho I won’t blame you for doing so. Lice can’t live off a human source for more than 48 hours, so just move/remove the blankets, pillows, lovies, bag em to suffocate the little jerks faster, and you’ll be OK.
- But I do recommend washing – in HOT – your kid’s sheets, yours, etc.
- Tea tree oil seems to be a deterrent, get some. It is a pure oil, sold near vitamins and stuff in stores. Your kids will smell like they were just at a Grateful Dead concert – it reminds me of Patchuli oil – but do it. Behind the ears, nape of the neck, especially.
- That’s where lice bite, so watch those areas. If your kids have little red bites, or itch til they bleed behind the ears, nape of their neck, it is NOT rare January mosquitos.
- Denorex ROCKS. ROCKS! That’s our new go-to. It is adult dandruff shampoo, sold in any drug store, by Head and Shoulders. Gross teal bottle with red top, grosser brown shampoo. But it works. Love the stuff now.
- Lice themselves look like little grains of rye, they are sort of gray, big/adult ones better not be any bigger than a sesame seed or you’ve really let things go too long.
- The nits, the eggs, attached mostly to the scalp area, versus down the hair (so cutting the kids hair won’t help much, shaving, maybe). They look like dandruff flakes, or even more like a little tiny glob of hair gel that didn’t get worked into the hair.
Sticky like glue, they are hard to get out.
- That’s where most of your work will come in. For about 3 weeks, we did nightly washing (with Denorex or Organix shampoo with Tea Tree oil), put in a little conditioner, also with Tea Tree extracts, that we left in the hair, and sat both girls down in the middle of the kitchen floor where the most light is, and combed and combed.
- I ended up buying PET COMBS. I’m serious. Really thin teeth. And I liked plastic better than metal. You comb this way, and that, against the hair, with it
- And wipe down the comb regularly with a plain white papertowl to watch for offenders coming out in the combing.
- Have a little plastic sandwich bag with a seal there to put in the little buggars, and the papertowel each night. I had a fear of them crawling out of my trash can and down the hall into my head
- (you will scratch and itch like crazy this entire process, and anyone you tell the tale to will start itching as well)
- After the combing, blow your kiddo’s hair dry with a blow dryer. They hate that too.
- And product. Any sort of hair spray, gel, etc, can help protect your kid. And again, keep applying a bit of tea tree oil behind their ears, etc.
Lice have a 7 day or something like that cycle – from when they hatch to when they can lay eggs and keep the family going. That’s where/how you can break the cycle. That’s the importance of the high test treatment shampoo. But after a while – and it will take awhile – you can just comb em out with conditioner helping, and you almost get comfortable with the process.
Til you kick it entirely, get complacent and months latger, hear about a friend’s kid with lice.
THEN fear creeps back into your mind, and you start to build up your fortress again. That’s why I’m writing this. I got comfortable, lazy, and wasn’t taking measures frankly you should keep going fairly regularly when you have school age kids.
As my oldest’s teacher said when I “admitted” what we were going through: It happens to EVERYONE. They like clean heads best. And young kids like to groom each other, touch each other, be close. It’s going to happen.
It likely WILL happen to you. If it doesn’t, you are a rare blessed parent. If it does, perhaps my tips will help. And remember, little bits of prevention often may help:
- Put Denorex into your kid’s (and your own) shampoo rotation
- Add product to your kiddo’s hair, a little hair spray or gel
- Use the blow dryer now and again
- Have Tea Tree oil hand to tour with Phish or put on your kid
- Keep a watchful eye on your kid’s scratching and part line
- And perhaps, once and awhile, go to Michaels, and stare your kid down under the bright lights.
For friends, I hope this helps. For strangers, “Lice to meet you!” If this was helpful, remember me, and that I’d prefer to be the Striped Lady versus the Lice Lady, so support stripedshirt sometime, but I won’t fault you for bookmarking this too. I wish I had it last winter.