‘Tis The Season. Head Lice Season, That Is.

Did you just scratch your neck reading that blog post title. I did. Anytime anyone ever mentions these little buggers, I itch. And I scratch. And I itch some more.

They make my skin crawl.

Yours, too?

A week ago, we received the obligatory letter from the school that a case of head lice had been reported. I scanned the note. I  glossed over its suggestions and warnings. But didn’t pay much heed. I have boys. Boys don’t get head lice. (Not true.)  Besides, when are we going to come into close contact with these little critters? With my daughter, I’d search her head from time to time during lice season. But even then, I wasn’t worried. And, as luck would have it, we were able to avoid their invasion her entire school career.

Will I be so lucky this season?

Only time will tell.

Because we came into contact Monday night. Close contact. And I failed miserably when put to the test, as a mom and a hostess.

The guests began arriving for our annual Pre-Halloween-Trick-Or-Treating-Protein-Packed-Chili-Dinner. This year I was truly the hostess with the mostest. I sent out invitations 3+ weeks prior. I began collecting all the dinnerware and paper products. I set out serving platters and dishes days in advance. I prepared the chili the day before and prepped all the veggies, dips and toppings. The day of, all I had to do was warm the food and set everything up. I was finally going to be able to enjoy my guests, unfrazzled and unfazed.

And then the bomb was dropped.

So-in-so’s* child had to be picked up from school today because of head lice.

*So-in-so’s name has been changed to So-in-so, to protect her……well….to protect HER. Yes. She, So-in-so, was doing the actual telling of the story. No one was gossiping. We were all just standing there. Listening. Slack jawed.

And no, she hadn’t treated her yet but it’s ok because head lice doesn’t jump from head to head. It has to crawl and it’s not like our kids are sharing hats or anything tonight – they’re all wearing their costumes. But don’t worry. So-in-so bought the special shampoo at the drug store and she’s going to treat her daughters (Yes, plural. As in 3 guests at the party) as soon as they got back from trick-or-treating. No worries.

(Cue newly frazzled and fazed hostess.)

The other moms and I stood there dumbfounded. I had no idea what to say. I was taught that as a hostess, my job is to make each and every guest feel welcome and comfortable. But when all I wanted to do was cancel the party, shuffle my guests out the door, send my kids off to the shower, disinfect every last inch of my home — I just stood there. And smiled. (Yes. I actually smiled through the whole disgusting telling of events. I am so ashamed.)

Needless to say, most of my guests left early to trick-or-treat.

My sister called and when I told her the story she reprimanded me.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” she demanded.

“What should I have said?”

“You should have said…..you could have….well, I would have said…….Well, I don’t know. But you should have said something!” she stammered.

My sister nailed it. Yes. I should have said something. My thoughts were a jumble of stuttering and stammering. In the moment? I had no idea what to say. I only knew what I wanted to do. Kick her and every other guest out and disinfect my kids, myself, my husband and my home from top to bottom, from inside and out.

We have no signs. Yet. But I scoured the internet and am happy to share with you some things I learned.

1. Tea Tree Oil is a wonder oil. You can mix it in your shampoo, in a spray mister for pillows and couches, you can even add it to your laundry detergent (12 drops per load). It is a natural lice repellent and believe you me, my family and my home are doused in it, swimming in it even.

2. Head lice don’t jump. They crawl from head to head, looking for a tasty host. After about 48 hours with no yummy blood to feed on they shrivel and die. Create an unappealing environment (tea tree smelling head, for instance) and they’re not likely to stick around. While cleaning linens and pillows are a good idea, covering your home with a tarp and spray bombing (don’t laugh, I actually thought of doing this) is not necessary.

3. Tea tree oil has been found so effective that some studies suggest that it is more effective than the insect repellent DEET.

4. I don’t care what So-in-so said at my party, head lice is highly contagious. HIGHLY.

5. Save your energy for thorough lice/nit removal. They live on human blood, not carpet fibers. While vacuuming is a good idea to remove fallen hairs with nits attached, spraying your home with pesticides (or Lysol – which is what I did as soon as So-in-so left my home) is not necessary. I did spray everything with the tea tree oil solution, however, which is non-toxic, because I thought, hey. It couldn’t hurt. And it makes me feel proactive.

Yes, lice season is upon us.

Hopefully, an ounce of prevention will be worth the cure.

I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks.

(I predict at least 87 heads were scratched during the reading of this blog post.)


Filed under Lessons Learned

27 responses to “‘Tis The Season. Head Lice Season, That Is.

  1. Yes I admit to scratching a little tiny bit.

    Thankfully I never had lice once through school – so the nearest I’ve ever been in contact is de-fleaing the cat!

    Humour is always best to use when you have something to say but don’t really want to say it….it lessens the blow somehow….apparently.

    “I don’t mean to be funny but….GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!”

  2. I was absolutely fine until I went to comment and just happened to reread your prediction. Now I’m itchy everywhere except my head! How rude, naive, stupid, selfish etc! 🙂

  3. What a complete lack of manners that lady had! And now I’m scratching…

  4. Ick! I’m scratching a fake head itch after reading this!

  5. Of course I scratched. The power of suggestion is one of the mightiest powers on earth. Don’t you just shake your head in amazement at how stupid some people can be sometimes? And inconsiderate? I’m with you – what on earth could you say and still be gracious. And then again, is being gracious really necessary in that situation?

  6. monica

    excellent! Been there ..done that..when they were in kindergarden AND..just 2 months ago at 17!!!! yes! 17! Can u believe it?! My dtr was a camp counsellor and all over the kids with hugs so…she gave it to her sister.
    This time around I nipped it in the bud so quickly with bit girls. It was gone with in a week and a half! In kindergargen it took me about 5 weeks of mixing and trying different things!
    I hope I never have to nit pick again..ps my dtrs have long thick beautiful hair….
    It was a real struggle not to go insane!

  7. monica

    oh ya! I had a mother who lied to me and told me her dtr no longer had lice or nits.I asked of course before I allowed her to come over and play with my girls since they were way over their bout with lice. (this was in the first grade), I had to check…so I asked the little girl if I could make a pony tail and I was appauled! a head FULL of nits! You bet a told that mother! and she was mad at me!!!!!!

  8. Am not scratching my head…am not scratching my head….am not…

    Frankly I can’t believe the Mother brought her kids…she should have been at home doing the whole shampoo thing. What is wrong with people today. I think I would have been rude and told her that the best place for her kids was home and I’d appreciate her taking them there. But I suppose that would have made your kids so embarrassed! Still…..

    We have fleas, brought home from the kennel on Katie the dog. We are working at getting rid of them…I wonder if tree oil will work for that?

  9. By the third time I got infected with lice as a child, my mother threatened to shave my head if I ever came home with it again. I was much more careful after that.

  10. I have to second the other comments that say So-and-so’s mom was a thoughtless, ignorant, rude person. If the school said “go home and treat your kid” how do you get “or go to a party with lots of people”? If they send your kid home with a fever, which is part of a contagious thingamabob, then you don’t bring your feverish kid to a party.

    Jane, I’m thinking a bad word right now. I won’t say it because I have too much respect for you, but…

    Consider the tea tree oil ordered and applied. Just in case.

  11. Let me just say, from way too much experience, the tree tea oil shampoo works. And the added benefit is that is treats dandruff. I buy it at my local health food store.

    Also, be aware that lice tend to ‘like’ certain people because of their chemical make-up. If someone brings it home from school or a kid at youth group has them, I get it. Every. Single. Solitary. Time.

  12. My 2 have had head lice and I found that the only thing that got rid of them was a treatment from the Chemist. You have to apply it once and then do it again a week later. I tried all the tea tree oil stuff and really didn’t find it was that successful.

    Someone suggested covering the hair with mayonnaise, but I never tried it. I imagined it would take weeks to get all that grease out of their heads!

  13. monica

    my method that got rid of the girls head lice within one week in a half(I checked and none to be found after that) was the following.
    Bought Nix and a metal comb. My girls are teens and have long thick hair so I used double the amount. I then nit picked until I turned gray…(twins!)
    After that I bought tea tree shampoo plus tea tree oil. I had my dtrs put a generous amount in their hands and wash their hair with this every night. I nit/combed picked every dayon the 7th day we re did the treatment as directed to. Then they continued to shampoo with the tea tree shampoo everyday and I continued to nit pic and I saw less ad less.
    As I mentioned above..this was not my experience when they were younger. It took me 5 weeks of trying different brands and I just couldn’t get rid of them.
    I never want to see another nit in my life! I paid my dues….

  14. googled tree tea for fleas. (on the dog!) and found that it wasn’t recommended for any animals but large animals like horses etc, smaller animals tended to have reactions like seizures,which incidentally I’ve heard there’s an ingredient in the new commercial flea treatment that causes some shelties to have seizures…so I find this all very interesting.

  15. Head lice is serious business. I know from personal experience. Every summer (when I was a kid) after we returned from India, I remember my mom buying the requisite RID Lice killer and sitting me down in front of the television as she combed out those critters. Not a fun memory.

  16. Who does that? (I removed the profanity because a) I’m assuming she’s your friend and I’m yours and b) I’m trying to cut out the cussing {No, it’s not going well.}.) I would never, ever, ever, *EVER* tell moms at a party that I hadn’t treated my kids for the live lice living in their hair. If I hadn’t had time to disinfect my kid, I would have kept my mouth shut. And the *MOMENT* I found lice in my kid’s hair, I’m shaving his head and disinfecting him the next moment.

  17. Your story brought back many memories…all bad. After we’d started a new school in a new town, I found one of the little critters on my daughter’s PJs. I immediately blamed the dog. But when I took it to the vet in a plastic baggie, they said it looked like human lice. ICK!!!!!!! I’d never dealt with that before. The couch in oldest daughter’s classroom was the culprit. The entire class battled rounds of head lice until I demanded the teacher put the couch in the hallway and cover it with plastic for a month.

  18. Sam

    I’ve just had a similar encounter!! At a recent family party a guest decided to tell me as they were about to leave that two of her children had head lice, they apparently have had them for ages and they can’t get rid of them! Both girls had their hairs down and had being playing with our guests children including my two daughters! Well I did tell her I thought she was out of order and should have told us before she came. Her response was that the lice can’t jump…. Anyway as we have been lucky enough not to have had lice before I am constantly searching the internet for what they look like, checking the girls hair and washing everything in site!! Some people are so insensitive.

    • mimi

      I have actually been in a VERY similar situation. My mouth ran off with me before i could really think…My words were something to the affect of ” Oh no you havent treated her yet?! But then all of the other kids here can get too!! you should take her home right now and treat her, it really wouldnt be fair to all the other kids!!”
      She left, quite embarrased and her daughter was almost in tears- I apologized for that and gave her a treat to take home, but I’d rather be safe and rude, than polite and sorry later!!

  19. Kat

    My three children got head lice this year and with the way my husband and I are bugs and us DO NOT Mix..We were all ready for school and my 6 year old Son was scratching like crazy at his head I asked him what is wrong why are you scratching your head so badly???? He said I don’t know Mommy but my head is really really itchy.I looked at him and there it was LICE every where how in the world did my husband and I miss this I mean him and his Sisters have the blondest hair you can have.Seeing those bugs crawl around on them made mine and my husbands skin crawl.We checked the girls who are 9 and 10 and yes they had them too what the heck??? Where did they come from??How did they get them???? We found out that my Son was the main supplier he had the most… I ran to the store and got Three Lice Shampoo’s one one each for the girls and one for me I treated myself because I was told to by the doctor..My son got treated but we cut ALL of his hair off outside in the middle of winter we felt so bad it was FREEZING out but we knew that was going to kill them..Thank gosh it was Thanksgiving Break we had them all gone within a few days..Then break was over that day they came home my girls had them all over again.Now I know where they came from the school .Why did they not send a letter or something home saying they were having a problem with this??? We could have treated them so they might not have gotten them..This went on from Thanksgiving Break up until Christmas Break..Then they went back and NOTHING Thank God no more of those Nasty Nasty Bugs.. I hope we don’t have to EVER deal with those things again EVER!!!!! I did find a few things out make sure you use the hottest water you can because the lice can hold there breath for a very long time and make sure you use the highest setting on your dryer that will kill them.. Also make sure you treat your Child or Children 7 to 10 days after the first treatment… I found out that the comb they give you does NOT work picking them out with your fingers is the BEST the comb does not even get the nits.. I found out that there hiding spots are behind the ears and on the back of there neck.. When my one daughter got done with her treatment there were lice and nits all on the back of her neck… Make sure you wash all there clothes they had on and the towels… Before my kids got them I always thought that people that were dirty got them but I found out that you do NOT have to be dirty cause we are NOT dirty people with myself and mu husbands OCD lol are house is NOT ever dirty..Also I found out by the doctor that the lice like Clean Hair over Dirty Hair which I thought was strange.. Thanks for reading this I hope in some way this helped you…

  20. Tammy

    Wash your dogs in regular Dawn Dish washing detergent. It repels the fleas.
    This is what I use on all of mine. Google it.

  21. I have long hair. About four and a half years ago I caught head lice from somewhere (I had been camping with the youth group and then at Soul Survivor – hundreds of young people camping in a field) I discovered the offenders having had an insanely itchy head, I missed church, when straight to the pharmacy and because it’s held behind the counter I had to ask the lady for head lice shampoo! I took to using tea tree conditioner to keep them at bay ever since!

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