The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: head lice

How I battled head lice and won

When we last left our heroine, she was about to save her helpless child from a repulsive infestation of head lice!

(You can get all caught up with how I discovered the infestation here.)

Say it with me, y’all: “Ewwwwww!”

I couldn’t agree more.

Even though I was as skeeved as could possibly be, there was really no choice but to suit up and duke it out with those beasty blood-sucking bastards.

As a serial do-it-yourselfer, I really wanted to see if I could McGyver a solution out of everyday household items like duct tape, lighter fluid, and a weed whacker, but my inner parenting voice said no.

So instead, I turned to the refrigerator and the box o’ dog grooming supplies.

That’s right, people. Armed with nothing but a large jar of Hellman’s and my dog’s plastic flea comb, I set to work.

(NOTE: I chose the flea comb, which was clean and hadn’t been used in years, because it had very fine teeth. However, if you go that route, take it from me and do not share that detail with your child’s teacher or school nurse. Trust me on this one.)

First I combed out as many bugs and nits as I could find. Then I slathered my child’s head with my least favorite condiment, combed it through, and wrapped my child’s melon with cling wrap…being careful not to cover his/her nose or mouth. (I know – best Mom ever.)

The Google said the mayo would need to be on for 8 hours to properly suffocate the live lice. Unfortunately for us, our dog wouldn’t leave my sandwich-flavored child alone and we only got 3 hours of “mayo time” in before the grease dripping down his/her neck and the constant attention from the dog drove my child to the brink of insanity.

“MOM! HELP! IKE IS LICKING ME AGAIN!”

So we washed out the mayo, or tried to at least. I haven’t seen hair that greasy since I accidentally left the lid off the Vaseline jar when Mini-Me was a toddler.

Worried the partial mayo treatment wasn’t going to be effective, I looked for another home remedy…preferably one that wouldn’t kill any of my child’s brain cells or turn him/her into an extra large dog treat.

After thoroughly researching the myriad options…

I chose The Cetaphil Treatment to rid my child of lice.

In a nutshell, it requires thoroughly covering the hair with a copious amount of Cetaphil facial cleanser, and thoroughly blow drying it so as to “shrink-wrap” each hair strand therefore suffocating the live lice.

It took three afternoons, evenly spaced three weeks apart, and was a bit labor intensive (takes a lot longer to blow dry hair that is saturated with Cetaphil), but it was safe and it worked. We are officially lice-free.

Supposedly with The Cetaphil Treatment, removing nits is optional because the three weekly treatments completely interrupt the life cycle. But I didn’t want to take any chances, so I ended up buying a professional nit-picking comb called the Nit Free Terminator Lice Comb. The extra-fine stainless steel teeth are much more effective (and less disturbing to others) than my dog’s plastic flea comb.

Oddly enough, I actually enjoyed the nit picking process. This probably comes as no surprise to my husband who has been the brunt of my figurative nit picking for the last 18 years. There was just something remarkably Zen about methodically combing through small sections of coconut scented wet hair in search of buried treasure. Maybe I’m just weird, but I dug it. Perhaps because it was one of the few elements of my life where I could actually see my progress and feel like I was accomplishing something.

How I battled head lice and won by The Bearded Iris

It was also a great opportunity to have uninterrupted conversations with my child. Not that I would recommend a head lice infestation as a way to connect with one of your kids on a deeper level, but seeing the nit comb as half full rather than half empty is one of my finer qualities.

I’ve also learned there are folks who rid people of lice for a living! Apparently they make big bucks too. So I’m thinking I could become a Professional Nit Picker if this blogging thing doesn’t work out. Hey, I already own the comb.

So the moral of this story is this…

1.)  Lice happens.

2.)  Trust your gut and know what to look for.

3.) DON’T PANIC!!!!!!!!!!

4.) Buy a good nit comb. If you have kids, you’re going to need it eventually.

5.) Learn the facts and find the Zen in nit picking.

Or hell, pay me to do it for you—special pricing for readers of The Bearded Iris!

Honestly, the hardest part of this experience was the embarrassment of having to notify the school and my child’s friends. But most of them had been through it before and were very compassionate about the whole thing (the ones who replied, that is). My child was even invited to a slumber party by one of those parents, so I’m relieved to know that we aren’t marked for life…at least for head lice, anyway. {Bless our hearts.}

Triumphantly yours,
Leslie The Lice Lambaster

Lice to meet you!

They say God never gives us more than we can handle.

And I truly believe that.

Which is why I am not the least bit surprised that I had 13.5 years of motherhood under my belt before head lice was dropped into my lap.

Literally.

That’s right y’all, one of my chil’ren recently had the cooties. And I made this incredible discovery while he or she was snuggled up to me with his or her head on my lap.

(NOTE: I do know the gender of my child. I’m just trying to protect his or her privacy.)

Are you itching yet?

Don’t.

It honestly wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Frankly, I’m feeling like Mother of the Year over here because I battled these beasties and I PREVAILED.

But I suppose I should start at the beginning…

Discovering Head Lice

A few weeks ago, one of my kids was scratching his or her head like he or she had just worn a poison ivy bonnet in the Easter Parade.

“Quit scratching! People will think you have mange,” I chided.

“I can’t help it mom! It’s SO. ITCHY!”

“Oh Cheesus Crust. Did you stick your head in a fire ant hill again?”

“Really Mom! It hurts. Will you look at it?”

“OMG. (rolling eyes) Please don’t have lice. We already don’t get invited anywhere.

I looked, but didn’t see anything suspicious. So just to be on the safe side, I advised my child to covertly swing by the school nurse’s office the next day and ask for a lice check.

“The nurse said it’s just dandruff,” was the report I got the next day.

PHEW. I felt totally relieved and proud of myself for seeking a professional opinion.

“OH THANK GOD!” I said. “Because head lice? Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.”

Aint nobody got time for headlice at The Bearded Iris

But lo and behold, even after a deep moisturizing treatment, the next day was more of the same: itchy itch, scratchy scratch.

My baby was still in total agony, “Mom—my hair actually hurts. It feels like I have bruises on my head. Are you sure it’s not lice?”

photo courtesy of the CDC/Dr. Dennis D. Juranek

photo courtesy of the CDC

We were sitting on a park bench in the bright sunshine at the time, with my baby’s sore head resting on my Levi’s. There, in the sun, with my hand gently stroking my child’s shiny locks, I started to notice numerous teeny-weeny cream-colored oblong specks on individual hair shafts. They were about the size of strawberry seeds. I’m talking TINY. And stuck. Stuck like glue.

Huh,” I thought. “That can’t be dandruff. Dandruff would flake off.”

(And I was right! Here’s a great “dandruff vs. nits” article and photo gallery if you need help.)

So I asked, “Have you been playing in a sandbox at school? There are tiny little grains of sand or dirt or something stuck to some of your hair.”

“No. There isn’t any sand at school.”

“Weird,” I said aloud, and then to myself: OMG! Is this what lice eggs look like?

The second we got home from the park, I started to Google things like “What does lice look like?” and “pics of lice eggs” and “are lice and crabs the same thing?” and “can lice crawl through denim and granny panties?” (No, they like to stay on heads, thank God.)

One thing lead to another and the next thing I knew I had my dog’s flea comb in hand, trolling for live bugs…on my child…the precious, itchy, fruit of my loins.

And sure enough…with the help of that thar flea comb and The Google, my suspicions were confirmed.

IT WAS LICE!

Oh Holy Mother of God. There were teeny tiny micro lobsters of doom crawling on my sweet baby’s scalp.

(In defense of my school nurse, it was a pretty mild infestation, but still. Damn.)

Listen. I read the fine print and I knew motherhood was going to be gross when I signed up. I was fully aware there would be ear cleaning and toenail clipping and epic diaper blowouts. I’ve been puked on, peed on, sneezed on… in the mouth. I’ve scraped vomit off a popcorn ceiling. I’ve nursed my various children through a circumcision revision, “mega colon,” two bouts of ring worm, and a festering puncture wound. And I have a magnifying mirror that makes my upper lip look like an angry poisonous centipede; so believe me when I tell you, I know gross. But discovering a lice infestation on a child who just had their head in my lap? The word repulsed doesn’t even scratch the surface for how I was feeling.

I immediately recalled the time we invited some friends over for dinner and they had to cancel because the whole family had gotten lice and was stuck at home with shower caps full of mayo on their heads.

Oh God. This could be bad.

Panic started to set in.

What if we ALL had it?

Couldn’t. Stop. Itching!

Well, if you’ve got to eat a louse, may as well quit staring at it and dig in, right? (Or something like that.)

Suddenly, my fears abated and I knew with a singleness of purpose I haven’t experienced since the night before tax day that I and I alone could save my child and the rest of my family from this pestilence.

Aaaaand, that’s all we have time for today my pretties. Tune in next time to find out how I rid my child of lice, strengthened our relationship, and discovered a hidden talent!

May your weekend be filled with love, laughter, and no lice.

Yours truly,
Leslie

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