Aftermath of Head Lice: Talking to your child

The aftermath of head lice can leave both you and your child emotionally exhausted. We all know that head lice sucks, despite being a common rite of passage for many kids. Your child is embarrassed, you are grossed out, and let’s be honest, other kids can be really mean. How do you talk to your child so they are ready to face their friends at school again?

Let me guess, these nasty little buggers hit you out of nowhere right? You found yourself totally unprepared and overwhelmed the minute you figured out what was going on. Your first response may not have been the best one but once the dust settles, heads are treated, and sheets are in the wash, the next obstacle you face is helping your child emotionally move on. Here’s five simple ways to help explain the who, what, where, why they had it and how to talk to their friends about it.

Who Gets Head Lice?

The fact of the matter is that anyone can get head lice. Well, any human that is. They are most common in young children with girls being more likely to get them over boys. Head lice do not discriminate against anyone really. Clean hair, dirty hair, child, adult, they just love hair, any and all kinds! That means there was no way of really preventing them from finding your head to be the perfect home for them to raise a family in!

What Are Head Lice?

I assume you mean besides gross? Head lice are little parasites that find the human head the absolute best neighborhood to raise their family in. They are visible to the naked eye but can be pretty quick to scurry away from searching fingers. The real trouble is they lay eggs like crazy and those are really hard to see. Even if you have good vision a pair of reading glasses may come in handy in your search for them. Lice are literally thousands of years old, so they are persistent little bastards that breed better than rabbits.

Where Do You Get Head Lice?

99.9% of the time head lice are transferred from head to head by sharing hats, batting helmets, wigs, or sleeping close to someone who has them. They can’t fly, or even jump, they can only crawl. So they really depend on you unknowingly inviting them onto your head. Your child didn’t deserve them certainly and they had to have gotten them from someone else. That means there is no reason to be embarrassed. They just happen.

Why Head Lice?

In my honest opinion, only God knows why they exist. The good news is that they do not carry disease or infections that can be transferred to humans so they are really just a gross, itchy, but harmless nuisance.

How to Tell Their Friends

We all know that when we hear “head lice”, and we take a step away from the person talking instantly feeling itchy. Although I had them as a kid I don’t remember being teased about having them. I don’t really remember anything other than my mom combing through my hair with that tiny ass comb and hating every second of it. As I was researching during my what the fuck do I do now moment I saw a lot of things posted about the stigma of head lice. As I kid I didn’t really think about it, I was worried for my daughters though. I was afraid that they would be teased, bullied, or otherwise ostracized if other kids knew.

After talking to the school nurse I told them that they could lie, I’m not proud of that. I told them that they could just say that they were home sick. They didn’t have to tell anyone they missed school because they had lice.

My girls didn’t listen of course, and told their friends. They learned a valuable lesson in doing that, I did too. My older daughter said that this friend heard from that friend, who heard from another friend, BUT only one friend came to her to ask her if it was true. They told me that when someone said something to them they simply stood up for themselves. They told everyone that they had to have gotten them from someone else  who had them so what was the big deal? I have to admit that I was proud of them and ashamed of myself. They told the truth, defended themselves and then simply went on with their day. What more could a mom ask for?

 

 

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Dealing with Head Lice – How to Guide

Are you dealing with head lice?

Oh girl, you found bugs crawling in your little ones hair and you don’t know where to start, right? No worries momma, its going to be ok! I know you want these disgusting little parasites not only off your child’s precious head but out of your house, like yesterday. Here is what I have learned when dealing with head lice and the steps you need to take to get rid of the bugs once and for all.

Lice occur most frequently in younger, school aged children, and they can happen to ANYONE. Lice occurs more often in girls but that could just be because girls generally have longer hair. They are gross I know, BUT these resourceful little bastards have been around since the beginning of time. Trust me when I say that no one is more skeeved out than your kid at the thought of bugs crawling around in their hair. They know that momma is going to handle this like the bad ass boss she is.

CHECK EVERYONE thoroughly so you know how many heads we are treating here.

When your little one comes to you and says that it feels like something is crawling in their hair then you need to check, like now! Lice drop lots of eggs and fast! Go directly to a well lit room and check the base of their skull and behind their ears. These are the most common locations for the lice to lay eggs. Adult lice are easily seen with the naked eye but the nits are tiny so if anyone has reading glasses available they may come in handy here. The nits are oval shaped little blobs attached to the hair shaft very closely to the scalp. Once those puppies start hatching you are going to have a serious problem. Adults are good at hiding while you are checking hair so take your time looking around. Once you know you are dealing with lice, then you need to check EVERYONE in the house.

Most research shows that over the counter medications rarely work in eliminating head lice. Even through two rounds of treatment and with you doing everything “as directed”. If you learn nothing else, then learn from my experience. Your best bet is to call your pediatrician right away and get a prescribed treatment that kills both the lice AND the eggs. I will explain why in a minute.

Your head is itching isn’t it? Don’t panic. Just the thought of lice makes your skin crawl but make sure someone has checked your head too.

The Good Stuff

Why do you need the good stuff? You need the medication that kills the eggs too, which is only available by prescription. These little buggers, pun intended, can take up to 12 days to hatch. Then it only takes 6-9 days for them to become mature enough to start laying eggs themself. You can see how this starts to stack up against you quickly. You are going to be chasing your tail trying to find every nit in your kid’s hair for the next month or so before you can declare victory. Go to your doctor and get the good stuff. I told our pediatrician that I wanted “something that will kill everything but those two”, pointing to my beautiful head scratching daughters.

Plan of Attack

Now that you have this lice annihilator in your hot little hands you need to plot out your plan of attack. First thing to do is gather everything that your children have come into contact with for the past 48hours. Place it all into one area to be considered “the contamination zone”. Every bed in the house, clothing, coats, pillows, stuffed animals, etc.. Think of anything that may have come into contact with your child in the past 48 hours and set it aside to be laundered.

Hairbrushes and hair accessories need to be soaked in water greater than 130 degrees for at least 10 minutes. To be honest, during the first rounds using over the counter shampoos we did this. Once it was obvious that we had lice again, we just tossed them all and bought new stuff. If you can’t buy new, then boil a pot of water and throw all the grooming accessories in the pot of boiling hot water (turning off the heat first of course).

Make a Clean Zone

Now, the medicine has to sit on your child’s head for about 10 minutes, you now have time to make a “clean zone”. I then went through their stripped rooms and vacuumed their beds and floor thoroughly. I picked out PJs and set them in the bathroom for the girls. Once their heads were done stewing, they rinsed off, got into their PJs and went straight to their rooms, you know, the “clean zone”. They were told that they couldn’t go to other areas of the house without my permission (possibly this was overkill but after dealing with these parasitic bastards for a month, I.WAS.DONE.).

I then, systematically, went through each room that would need to be tidied up, vacuumed and cleaned in the order of importance to our daily lives.

The Aftermath

As far as the laundry, it will take DAYS to wash everything. Everything should be washed on the hottest setting and dried on the hottest settings. Don’t forget to vacuum the couches, chairs, and rugs!

Lice don’t really live long without a host. If something has been in the coat closest for a week without anyone using it then you are probably ok to leave that be. Anything that can’t be washed, like my daughter’s softball helmet, needs to be sealed up in a plastic bag for three weeks to ensure that they are gone.

Remember Momma, lice have literally survived for thousands of years. Clearly they are unstoppable, until they met you that is!

 

 

Head lice?! Ewwww….gross….you must be dirty! OMG Mary has bugs in her hair! Kids can be cruel when it comes to head lice. Check out this blog post on helping your child cope with having had lice. http://asleepbynine.com/parenting/aftermath-of-head-lice-talking-to-your-child/