They say lightning will not strike the same spot twice. This is not the case with head lice. I thought I’d rather be struck by lightning until I gained knowledge and a lot of perspective.
Twice in sixteen months these little critters dropped in on our family. Literally. The first visit had me horrified and panic stricken to say the least. I ran, with my children and lice in tow, to the nearest pharmacy and purchased several RID kits and a Licemeister comb (think small yellow handle with tiny metal teeth) hoping this would eliminate the problem. I then set to work treating my horrified 7 year old son and scared 4 year old daughter. All along the way I kept thanking God that my youngest dodged the bullet with this round.
For hours I combed, or as the children described it carved, their scalps in search of nits (lice eggs) and the louse (the critter). All of this began on a lovely Thursday afternoon which turned into a late evening of combing and wiping tears, telling them it would be alright. In the midst of preening I was consumed with load upon load of laundry, desperately trying to eradicate the lice with scalding hot water. I then went into a vacuuming frenzy where I even used the hand tool to vacuum their little heads. Finally, I had tucked the last little oily head in and went to work checking out my own roots. Yes, you guessed it, I had fallen victim to the louse as well.
Now, being of the mindset that I would never want to infect others with cold, flu or parasite, the next day I marched both children to the nurse at their respective schools and had them checked. Declared “clear” they were off and I returned home to the eighteen loads of laundry that awaited me.
That evening I revaluated the situation and retreated their little heads. Discovering that a few nits were still around I went to work yet again. At this point I felt like the monkeys you see on the Nature Chanel, picking at their young. However my little monkeys were not as agreeable as those you see on TV. They had it and quite frankly, so had I. Of course it was the weekend that my husband was out of town so all of this fell on me AND I was the mean Mom torturing my children.
By the time Sunday had rolled around we were all counting the hours until Daddy returned. The children were tired of me picking in their heads every time they crossed my path and I was finished with being the Mama monkey. You could tell my husband was a bit nervous upon returning home as he looked cautiously around the house after walking through the door, expecting to see little critters hopping around the floor. Cautiously he hugged the children, looking at me as if to say “is it safe?”
I gave him the all clear and retreated to the shower for a much needed scrub down. In all the craziness of the weekend I was lucky to get at two minute rinse down at midnight. That night I slept like a rock though I’m not sure that was the case for my husband. When I awoke the next morning I saw that he had slept on the seam of the mattress, arm hanging over the side and practically touching the floor. He feared the louse but not I, I had conquered it.
One would think that is where my story would end, but as I stated before we got hit twice. The second time right before Christmas break this year. This time I was prepared and much more calm and I had reinforcements as my husband was home. We went through the whole combing, washing, laundry and vacuuming process but it wasn’t such a big deal this time. My children took it in stride. My oldest even said, “Mom, it wasn’t so bad having lice this time, we got to spend a lot of time with you.” Knife to the heart. It had taken lice for us to spend some real quality time together.
After clearing the children, all three this time, with the nurses I headed out to start my day. Running into a friend, I told her what we had just experienced. She laughed and told me that they had been through the same thing just a few months ago. Their case would not go away, so desperate times called for desperate measures; she called a company that specializes in these situations. One of the best things that came out of it was that this person educated them on lice and helped to dispel some of the myths that are associated with these little critters. I decided I needed to call just to see what this was all about.
I was able to schedule some time to talk with MJ Eckert, she and Nancy Fields are the co-founders of Lice Happens. Lice Happens (licehappens.com) is a mobile head lice removal service. Their treatment specialist will come to your home and thoroughly rid your family of head lice in a single visit in the privacy of your home using all natural, pesticide-free products. Founded by a Registered Nurse and Quality Assurance Professional, you know that the experts are in the house to take care of business!
MJ explained that the life span of lice is thirty days. Once the eggs (nits) are laid as close to the scalp as possible it takes them about 1 ½ weeks to hatch. A louse can lay 5-10 eggs per day. From that point they stay on the scalp for another 1 ½ weeks to grow into an adult. At about two weeks the itching begins.
I asked her to share with me the most common misconceptions and myths about lice and found that there are many.
Myth #1: There is no such thing as a home or school being infested with lice; they have to be on the human head to survive.
Fact: Lice do not fly or jump but crawl from head to head. The nits (eggs) do not transfer from one person to another as they are attached to the hair shaft.
Myth #2: Over the counter treatments kill all of the lice on the head.
Fact: The best way to get rid of the lice is treating the head with an enzyme solution that assists with loosening the nit from the hair shaft and then combing the hair with a special metal comb specifically designed for this. This comb removes the nits and lice from the hair. Have a white paper towel handy to wipe the comb onto.
*Continue daily combing for two weeks and then do weekly checks. You want to stay ahead of these little parasites!
Myth #3: Bag all stuffed animals, coats, play chairs etc.
Fact: Not necessary. You can throw them in the dryer as these parasites cannot live in extreme temperatures. Same goes for the hairbrushes, put them in a plastic bag and pop them in the freezer for 24 hours. The louse cannot live off the human head for more than 24 hours as the blood is its food source. Same for the nit, the head is its incubator so once it is away from that heat source it is doomed and it will never hatch into a new bug!
Myth # 4: Lice only live on dirty people.
Fact: They actually prefer clean hair because it makes it easier to attach the egg to the hair shaft.
I was relieved to listen to MJ dispel all of these “rumors” that we moms circulate about lice. She had so much fabulous information to share with me during the time that we talked, I felt empowered and ready to tackle these little critters, or parasites as I now call them. Thank you MJ!
The one thing that MJ really made clear was that it is not something to be embarrassed about, that it’s ok to tell and it’s ok to talk about. Tell the school nurse, tell parents that your child has come into contact with, they will appreciate it.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and just can’t get a hold of the situation or just have questions call Lice Happens 443.510.4480 or firstname.lastname@example.org. MJ was wonderful and took the time to help me understand the facts. I really felt as if I was confiding in a friend.
No, it’s not fun and it is an inconvenience but let’s put things in perspective, with all of the things going around out in the world today I’ll take this. It’s manageable and (trying to find a silver lining) it gave me some extra time to spend with my children. Though I think I prefer playing a board game the next time the kids are craving some time with Mom.