We were at a family picnic at my daughter’s school a few weeks ago, and her teacher casually pulled me aside. She inched closer to me and spoke low; “I just want to let you know that the kids were checked for lice this morning and (Insert dramatic pause) “5” does have nits (lice eggs!). Wait, what?! I stood slack-jawed – Momentarily speechless.
Are they sure? What does this mean?! Are we allowed to stay for the picnic? Is this a mom fail?! Is she that dirty?? The questions began racing through my mind. And then it all settled on, “Eww!”. It turns out, in fact, they don’t personally escort you out for nits, although we did quietly check her out promptly following the picnic.
The truth is, past the “eww” and knowing we needed to shampoo her and wash some stuff I didn’t know what to do. It turns out, as with most things lice protocol has changed over the years (check out some truths and myths here) and I did a heck of a lot of extra work. So. I am here to share with you a few Millennial Mom lice best practices.
1. Feel the Feels
I want to admit before moving forward that I fully understand my feelings and emotions towards our lice incident are considered first world problems for most. I own it. However, to me it was real. Let’s continue, shall we. First the denial. Were they sure?! Seriously, have they seen how curly and crazy her hair is??
Enter the shame. Do I not keep my kid clean enough?? I only counted swimming as bathing a few times. Do we have to notify the parents of her playmates?? So. Embarrassed. And the desperation. Oh, the desperation upon realizing all that is required to remedy a case of nits for a family of five. I mean, have I told you how curly and crazy her hair is??? Have I mentioned that I could only shave the heads of 2/5 of us, without inflicting long-term trauma??? Tears. I cried actual tears. Lastly, the confusion. No really, exactly what should I do first -Where even to begin?
2. Conduct a Head Check of All Family Members
Before you do anything, you need to find out how bad it is – Who in your unit has been affected? You will need to be also checked, by someone other than yourself. In our case, my husband was working late and being outnumbered by kids I chose to treat everyone. I figured I could touch everyone’s head to check them, and then possibly touch them again to treat them. Or I could just handle everyone (age 2 or older) and save time by only touching them once, including myself.
3. Get a Lice/Egg Killing Treatment
Let me share with you; I am a little bit crunchy. Ok – I am a lot crunchy. Before heading to Walgreens, I stated I did not care – that I wanted the most toxic product to wipe these little boogers out ASAP. However, there are more Homeopathic/Non-Pesticide products on the market than there are toxic ones. I was pleasantly surprised! And very overwhelmed. I will preface your sticker shock by forewarning you – this stuff ain’t cheap. Toxic or non-toxic. Alas, I ended up getting a homeopathic product with a “Kills Super Lice 100% Guaranteed” sticker on it. SOLD!
I would also like to point out that my Walgreens was running a special on Apothic Red Wine (2 for $17!) – coincidence? I think not. If your store offers such a special, it behooves you to embrace it. I recommend a cart. Juggling three kids, three boxes of Vamouse and two bottles of wine is, well, a bit cumbersome and you will have enough on your hands. You know with the bug infestation and all.
4. Treat the hair
This part is the easiest part. It’s very straightforward, and we were able to knock treatment out assembly-line style. I recommend setting up camp in the living room with towels (white, or light colored so you can see the dead bugs) and a good movie. And your wine – do not forget the wine (remember the bugs?!). Every product is different, and some may require you to wear gloves, mine did not. Although, I wished I would have worn them, as the product dried my hands out big time!
5. The Wash
So. Much. Blessed. Wash. Now, here is where the rules have changed a bit. My mom and a few older moms told me to wash everything – twice. *Be right back – sobbing*. Then a few younger moms told me ehhh, not so fast. Word on the street is, lice will die if not on a warm scalp (Eww!) in 48 hours. So. If you bag questionable items in trash bags for about 48 hours, you’re peachy keen. Items like bedding, recently worn clothes, brushes, backpacks, lovelies, and dress up clothes, etc. should be washed and dried at Hi-temp.
6. Follow up Head Check
A. To make sure there is no reinfestation.
B. To make sure all dead lice/nits have been removed (they stick to hair). Your child will NOT be allowed back at school until screened by the nurse. Check them out at home to make this whole process run more smoothly.
The most significant question I had was how can I make sure this doesn’t happen again. The answer is you can’t, but you can take a few measures to prevent it. For example, if your child has long hair choose to keep hair tied up in a bun, ponytail, or braids when going to school or in close contact with other kids.
Tea Tree Oil is a lice deterrent; however, it is drying to the hair if applied neat (straight without a carrier oil or product). If using a straight essential oil mix it with coconut oil, almond oil, or leave in condition before applying to the hair. Or you can purchase a pre-made tea tree oil product.
Lastly, accept, that lice or no lice, you will feel like you have the worst case of insects known to man. Your phantom itch is not a reflection of your actual lice status.
Now go forth, mama. The season is upon us – may the tea tree oil and BOGO wine specials be with you.