Every time I get an email from the school I have to read it right away. I have anxiety about the lovely principal emails, and not for any actual school-related reasons.
Whenever an update appears in my inbox I immediately tune out everything around me until I can scan the email for those dreaded words: Head Lice
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We were lucky for a while, but the start of the 3rd week of school saw both the girls “infested.” It wasn’t as bad as that sounds – they both had some nits and there was one louse on Emma (I think – still not 100% sure.) So treated them both, nit-picked them both, and washed, vacuumed or quarantined everything they had touched. Sadly the routine is old hat now.
The girls have had their fair share of head lice so far in their little lives. The first time we experienced it I was pregnant with Rose, and Emma was probably barely 3 years old. I had a little breakdown because I didn’t think I could deal with all the things expected of a household who finds head lice.
I didn’t want to use the horrible chemical shampoo on my 2 or 3 year old. I didn’t think I could vacuum every surface in my house before she came into contact with the surfaces again, and I couldn’t imagine corralling all her toys and either washing and drying them or putting them in a bag for 2 weeks (and/or in the freezer – who has room for that??) And how do you get a 2 or 3 year old to sit still for an hour while you nit comb her entire head? Especially with a pregnant belly in the way? Ack!
Luckily I have great family nearby so I asked for help – mostly to do Emma’s hair. She was a star that first time. She hated it, but she sat and let me pick and pick and pick. The girls had thin hair as toddlers so mostly I could see what was going on in there. I put on a movie and (no joke) she sat for a hour. And this is after I picked through while she was in the bath getting the shampoo washed out as well.
*Update – Since I wrote this post, I’ve found a new and better product for treating the head lice that inevitably comes home with my girls. NYDA is a non-chemical treatment. You leave it on the hair for 8 hours (or overnight) and then wash it out. It’s supposed to kill the lice on contact, and suffocate the nits over that 8 hours. It works well for us, and I’ve even done an application in the morning (after finding a louse while putting up someone’s hair) and then washing it out that night after dinner.
We’ve been fortunate that neither girl has had a serious infestation. I’ve managed to find it early every time (and there have been 4 large bottles of lice treatment amounts of times!) and alert daycare (or school, friends, and wherever else they’ve been), which is where I think they came into contact with it – but not necessarily in the daycare house. They used to go to all sorts of programs and other places (which is also why I loved my daycare!) where the girls came into contact with lots of kids. Never have I been sure where the lice came from. I find that very frustrating.
A few things we do now (that may or may not be helping!) routinely:
- NYDA is an non-chemical treatment – I put it right into the kids shampoo bottles, and then add a few drops to the squirt I put into my hand as well right before shampooing.
- Check the hair all the time – like while we’re watching tv and the kids are cuddly. Catching it early is key!
- Wearing hair up as much as possible – this isn’t often in my house because no one likes their hair brushed, and that’s a vital component to being able to put it up!
- Using conditioner – I know there’s conflicting evidence about conditioner use and head lice, but here Emma uses conditioner now (if she didn’t there’d be no hair combing after!) and I often forget to do the tea tree oil, and she had not had lice in years. May be a coincidence, may not.
- Teach the kids about head lice – how it’s spread, how early detection is key, and how to stick their hats into the sleeves of their coats. If they understand why we need to do this stuff, they are way more likely to comply. At least that’s my experience. For a bit Rose was confused about “hair bugs” and “sugar bugs” (you know, the ones that cause cavities) That made for interesting teeth brushing conversations because that was often when I would try to look through her hair as well.
If you’ve followed me from my Blogger days – first of all THANK YOU! but secondly I did recycle this post from there. I updated it and added some photos but most of the body is the same. And I still hate head lice.
Do you have any other tips or household things you do to help keep lice under control and out of your house? What we’re doing is working most of the time, but I read so much about the “super lice” that I’m still hyper aware that my kids spend a huge amount of time with kids I don’t know! Please share in the comments if you have any helpful ideas!