Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lice - The Check

It is that time of year.  I am making my annual (or really weekly) public service announcement / plea:


When my children (or anyone for that matter) walk in the door of our house, they remove their shoes, hang their coats, and wash their hands.  In addition, I usually do a quick lice check.  I know this seems a little obsessive, and it is, but I hate being sick and I NEVER want a repeat of The Great Lice Infestation of 2009.  One day my DS was frustrated by it and I said (equally as frustrated), "Get used to it because I will be checking your hair every single day that I see you until you walk down the aisle to get married and then I will teach your wife how to do it!"

Frankly, I want a grain alcohol dipping vat but the logistics and legality are tricky.  I will admit to not checking everyday for lice, but I always check after they shower and more often as the weather gets cooler and hats and coats are more prevalent.  Lice is a part of growing up, especially with an affectionate daughter, and honestly not too bad if you catch it quickly.  Lice is horrifically awful if it goes unchecked.

That little speck
above my finger is a nit
I've had "write the lice blog" on my to do list for a couple of weeks and actually wrote a really solid draft but just hadn't found the motivation to make final revisions.  Being "a writer" is often a burden.  Sometimes, I'm pretty sure that life just wants to give me material.  I even remember saying to someone, "I'd love to post the lice blog but what I could really use are some pictures for illustration."  It was like I mocked the blogger gods right to their face.

Shockingly, I know first hand that it is officially time to check for lice because when my DD got home today, we did our little routine and sure as SH__, there in her hair were 2 adult bugs.  She has only a few nits so this is VERY recent and not a bad case at all.  Now some of you are in my DD's class or spent time with us in a bouncy house this weekend, please don't freak out!  We will get through this, we just need to work at it. That said, it is Picture Day and I hope nobody shared combs. Yuck.

1)  Breathe Deep and pour a glass of wine (really not necessary but everything goes better with a glass of wine).

Adult Head Lice:
Size of a Fruit Fly
I'm really zoomed in
2)  Start with the huggy child who has longer hair and loves to share.  Stand under a good light and look through the hair.  Look for very small (smaller than a grain of sand) white specks very near the scalp (within a 1/2").  These specks are fixed to the hair shaft and don't move easily when you pull on them.  If they easily brush away, it is just flakes.  Less often, you will find bugs that look like fruit flies with no wings.  It easiest to look when blow drying their hair after a shower.

3)  Check often and check well.  Pay special attention to above the ears and the nape of the neck. If you don't know what to look for or your eye sight is terrible, shoot me a text or stop by.  I am always able to do a quick check and tutorial.  It is my life-long vow, to be here for anyone who needs a lice check.  Seriously.

4) Please don't wait for the school to check children.  School is not actually the most likely place to "catch lice" and by ethical code, they can only spot check students.  The school's duty is not: safety, education, and pediculosis capitis detection (although most school nurses will gladly check if asked).  It will take parents to break the cycle.  As much as I would love to have a grassroots approach and open a Lice Check Booth at Fall Fest, The PTA President is skeptical. *(SEE RETRACTION BELOW)

If NO Lice or Nits Are Found-  Avoid Getting Them by Simple Tips: 
  • Don't share combs, hats, hair bands, coats, pillows, towels, sports equipment, etc.  
  • Wear hair short, braided, or in a ponytail (some DFs will forever buzz their boys)
  • Use Fairy Tales lice repellant.  The website is also very informative.  I buy it at Ulta.
  • My in House Lice Kit
  • One DF has everyone wear a hoody to the movie theater and rest it on the back of the chair so their head doesn't come in contact with the chair.
Random Pediculosis Capitis Info:
  • Lice actually prefer clean hair
  • Lice don't like hair that has product in it or is blow dried so adults rarely get lice (unless you are like me & don't use product or a blow dryer).
  • Lice usually spread by head to head contact or sharing items that were on a head; it is very unlikely that they will crawl or jump or shimmy or gallop or fly (unfortunately, they don't drown so they can spread in pools)
  • Head Lice do not spread disease
  • Thankfully, head lice only effect the human head, not coarse hair, "other hairy areas", or pets.
  • An adult louse lays about 5-10 eggs / nits a day
  • Nits take 7-10 days to hatch and then another 7-10 days to become reproductive
  • A hatched louse can only survive for 24 hours without being on a head.
Even if no lice or nits are found, be prepared and go buy a nit comb and some Fairy Tales products.  It is a little Y2K of me, but I think the $30 is well spent.

If Even One Louse or One Nit is Found:
Go get a box of Kleenex, a Large Glass of Wine, and Read the Following Post:

*RETRACTION OCT 21, 2011:  Let it be known that I took poetic license with this statement.  In reality, the revered and highly respected PTA President did not say she was skeptical of a Lice Check Booth at Fall Fest (it could be called "Pick the Nit" - and volunteers could dress as the Grim Reaper?! - sorry back on topic).  I apologize for tarnishing her good name with such falsehoods.  BUT, the District Nurse is NOT supportive of the idea.  I actually talked to her today while she was checking my DD's hair (who was totally clean) and the nurse (who is a lovely woman and I adore her) told me, "I appreciate your enthusiasm but the PTA really can't get involved for confidentiality reasons."  -- Probably best if she doesn't know that I wrote a whole blog about it.  Despite the feigned anonymity of this blog, I've never been a real "confidential" type person.


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