So, it’s terribly self-indulgent to be writing about lice when the health care vote is hanging in the balance, but I’ve already contacted my members and signed the MoveOn pledge to support primary challenges to any Dems who vote against health care reform (and that includes you Mr. Kucinich).  So I’m going to be self-indulgent and write about lice.

The good news is that only N appears to have them so far.

The bad news is that I’ve been itching like crazy since I saw the first one.

The good news is that T tells me I don’t have any.

The bad news is that I’m not sure I believe him.  We may have finally found the limit of my faith in my husband’s parenting ability — he can change diapers with the best of them, walk a colicky baby, bake cookies, find a pediatric dentist open for an emergency on a Saturday morning, name at least 50 different Pokemon, make lunches, chaperon a school trip, coach a soccer team, and more, but I’m not sure I believe him when he says I don’t have lice.  I can spot check my kids, but I haven’t figured out how to spot-check myself.

The good news is that none of us have long hair.

The bad news is we now have a garage freezer full of stuffed animals.

The good news is the boys are being brave and going to bed without their doggies without much complaint.

The bad news is that I’ve read Marion Winik’s lice essay, and so have absolutely no faith that we’ve resolved this.  (Actually, I’ve heard her read it, which is even more funny.)

The good news is that our school does not have a “no nit” policy and so N was able to go to school after we reported that we had treated him.

The bad news is that it does seem to have a “chemicals required” policy — T had to bring the box of the shampoo that we used.   The over the counter lice medicines aren’t too terribly toxic (versus the prescription ones, which are seriously vile), but there’s also increasing evidence that the lice are resistant to them.  My guess is that parents who find lice on their own kids and don’t want to use chemical treatments just won’t tell the school, which is somewhat counterproductive.

D watched us freaking out over the lice this morning, and finally asked “so, what do lice do to you if you don’t get rid of them?”  I told him that, mostly, they just itch, and they spread really easily.  He didn’t get why we had to use a toxic chemical (that includes a warning that people with asthma should avoid it) to get rid of something that just makes you itch.  I had to agree that he had a point.  Someday someone is going to file a HIPAA suit over lice policies and win.

29 Responses to “Lice”

  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. Rebecca Steinitz Says:

    Do NOT believe your husband. Find a friend who's been in the same boat.

  3. Marny Helfrich Says:

    Just talking about lice is usually enough to make my head itch like crazy. Using a thick conditioner (or mayonnaise, but the conditioner is easier to get out) and a very fine-tooth metal comb to comb out the bugs and nits is probably more efficient but less toxic. I owuldn't be above buying the shampoo to show the school the box but not actually using it. Glad to hear they don't have a "no nit" policy – that's actually very progressive.Good luck! Hope you don't find any more little critters!

  4. Tracie Tricanowicz Basch Says:

    I am sorry. my head is itching just reading this. Good luck.

  5. B J Visty Shannon Says:

    my personal recommendation is the laundromat. wash EVERYTHING you can in hot, or bag for the recommended length of time, all gets done in one fell swoop. 37 years in education, two or three times for me.

  6. Rebecca Sherman Says:

    What Rebecca said. From personal experience.

  7. Kendra Casey Plank Says:

    We skirted the lice scare a couple weeks ago. I checked the kids for 10 days straight, until they ran when I came at them. It seems like such a monumental task to be rid of them, and I asked myself the same question D asked you!! I'm afraid our kids would be home weeks, because I dont' think the school would accept my empty gallon of olive oil as sufficient treatment. Good luck with it. (The HIPAA suit made me laugh! Very true.)

  8. Jody Seim Timmins Says:

    Ack. I'm itching just reading this. There's lice in our schools this year too, and I know it's only a matter of time.Maybe this weekend you should try the Cetaphil protocol, just for an extra step? I've heard from friends that it really does work.

  9. Ambre McMillan Ying Says:

    It's not just lice policies, it's how schools handle all manner of ills! I got a note home saying that kids should go to school with headaches and stomach aches unless they are contagious. What?

  10. Susan Harrington Says:

    That policy would lead me to use the cetaphil solution and buy a box of lice shampoo to show the school.We also used olive oil to smother lice, which worked OK, and also a lot of hand-picking.

  11. Marybeth Mattingly Says:

    Just shave his head???

  12. Marybeth Mattingly Says:

    Did I mention, my long hair is now itching–well,my scalp anyhow!

  13. Sandy D. Says:

    Those metal nit combs (we have one I got off eBay called “The Terminator”) are the bomb. Seriously, get one. I think that the little plastic combs they put in the boxes with the Rid are made to fail, so you have to buy more shampoo.

  14. Sandy D. Says:

    Also, I got some weird enjoyment about reading about lice and human evolution when we had our infestation. Maybe you will, too:

  15. bj Says:

    Much sympathy from out here. We just went through lice here — 3/4 of us had them (only the mostly bald guy was safe). My daughter has waist length hair. She is compulsively attached to her hair. Our school does have a no nits policy (contrary to the recommendations of the pediatric associations of the US, Canada & the UK). So, in addition to treating with pediculocides, we ended up spending $600 to have her hair professionally combed. That has resulted in a lice remission, but like you I’m not sure that they’re out of our lives yet.

    Although it was crazy expensive, the lice combing was worth it. The women did a very good job coming her hair (and mine). If you’re concerned about yourself, a lice removal service might be worth it for your sanity. My husband can’t in a million years comb my curly hair.

    I second the recommendation of the “terminator” comb. I’d bought another metal one, but the long toothed metal comb was the one that worked.

    (Consider yourself lucky that you have boys who do *not* have waist length hair)

  16. bj Says:

    Oh, and Sandy, me too. I read all the association reports on treatment, and was intrigued by the lower incidence of lice in african american populations in the US — they think it’s ’cause American lice are specialized for caucasian hair shafts. I also read about the “licebuster”, a heat gun reatment for lice. It sounded promising in the clinical papers, but the women at the lice removal service didn’t think it would work — they thought the lice would just move away from the heat. But, perhaps the heat gun in combination with a pediculocide would work.

    My daughter also read the association reports, and was interested (and she’s not a sciency girl, so it was a nice bonding moment).

  17. Madeleine Says:

    Much sympathy. I had lice as a child and just reading about it makes me itchy. I hope you are feeling better by now and don’t have your own case.

    The tip I overheard in the school office once was:

    Comb the whole head of hair four times — once through with each section combed from the north, once through from the south, and so on. That way you scrape nits off every side of the hair shaft.

    Also, the alternative to the freezer is a hot dryer, if the doggies can tolerate it. The other school office tip was “jackets and hats in the dryer for 20 minutes every afternoon after school.”

    This is the part where I gloat quietly over having a bi-racial daughter, because a) her hair is tightly braided at all times and b) the evolutionary thing. And it’s a darn good thing, because combing and braiding her curly curly hair takes me an hour and a half on an average Sunday. I cannot imagine trying to lice-comb her hair.

  18. Jennifer Says:

    It’s been a while since we had an infestation, but I’ve definitely found the chemicals don’t work as well as the “herbal” remedies for us. But the thing that really works is combing with conditioner and a fine tooth comb every night for a week. It took that long before we really had got every single insect that was ever going to hatch. The conditioner slows everything down, and gets the eggs off the hair. Just treating with any kind of shampoo didn’t work for us. I’m very glad we didn’t have girls with long hair. My older son’s fine curly longish hair was quite bad enough!

    And having watched both my boys scratching their hair in their sleep, I tended to think it was better for them not having the lice regardless of what the school said. It’s pretty annoying. Yes, I got them, the first time we had them in the house. And I found combing my own (short) hair with a fine tooth comb and shampoo was enough without needing any help.

  19. dave.s. Says:

    Since I am rooting against the health care bill – I think we need something much more different from the current system than the bill would establish, and if this gets passed no one will mess with it for years and years, and by the way I hate the Louisiana Purchase and the medical oxygen carve-out, etc. – I have no qualms about talking lice, instead.

    Our lice episodes have been unpleasant. Our boys were really sweet about it, and let us give them buzz cuts, which made nit-picking much easier. We were turned away by the two barber shops in town when we were on vacation near Yosemite (now THAT was a lousy vacation!) and bought a home haircut clipper to do it ourselves. I’ve also read about the heat treatment, and we used a warmish hair dryer along with chem treatment, maybe it helped.

    The big season in Arlington VA has generally been summer, when a bunch of kids from different schools get thrown together in County camps. We heat treated a bunch of stuffed animals, bed linens, pillows, etc., by putting them on the driveway under black plastic, they got good and hot. I’d like to second the Sandy D. advice on metal nit combs.

  20. Laura Says:

    Been through the lice thing a couple of times. I tell you, it irks me to no end that you can’t send a kid to school with a couple of remaining nits, but it’s fine to send a kid with the sniffles. I read all the stuff that said lice aren’t dangerous, just annoying and it’s no indication of a lack of cleanliness, etc. But, like dave, we had to resort to a buzz cut for a recurring case about ten years ago. We have photographic evidence. 🙂

  21. Jessica Says:

    I sympathize. I had horrible bouts with lice as a child, am a parent myself, and also a teacher. Lice can be very uncomfortable if left untreated. A bad case, while not harmful, can be extremely itchy. A few years ago, we had a bad case of lice in many classrooms that dragged on for months. Some children got lice multiple times. We do not mandate how you treat the lice, but do have a no nit policy now. The time and effort of TA’s and staff to do almost daily head checks on all students and the disruption this caused to instruction warranted a “no nit” policy to get the situation under control. I know this can be frustrating to parents. But if the infestation gets out of control then more and more children are missing school as each one seeks treatment.

    I hope there are no recurrences for you.

  22. dave.s. Says:

    Looks like the Utah entomologists finally have their product on the market, sort of: I’m still not sure why this is better than a hair dryer, but we may pop for one anyhow. dave.s.

  23. Liz Says:

    The FDA has recently approved a benzyl alcohol-based product that doesn’t use those horrible chemicals. It basically suffocates the lice but doesn’t kill the nits.

  24. Dustin Says:

    I’m approving this event though it’s from the company that sells the LouseBuster, because it is topical.

    It is better then a hair dryer, because using a hair dryer can burn your scalp and also it mats down the hair basically protecting the lice. The clinical study they did was actually performed against a hair dryer and those results showed the Lousebuster to be way more effective. If you want the lice and their eggs out your two best options are the Lousebuster or a nit picker. Good luck! Lice Suck!

  25. Jamie Says:

    Cetaphil is the way to go. The link should go straight to our Cetaphil experience: less time-consuming, less stressful, less icky than all that nit-combing, and very effective at the same time. (Sorry if this double-posts.)

  26. Lisa Says:

    Our school recommends combing through thoroughly with a cheap (white – not sure why) conditioner in lieu of just checking when there is an active outbreak. Not sure how many parents actually do it, but it is based on Dept of Ed advice so I think it is pretty effective. The Cetaphil protocol has been successful for families I know.

  27. Amy Says:

    My friend calls herself the Nit Nanny. She somehow has made a living helping families (and summer camps) get/stay lice-free. She’s a big fan of the suffocation method. LiceMD (silicone based) is good. She advises to stay away from the chemical treatments. It’s really a three week process that requires a retreating 7-10 days after the initial treatment. We have used olive oil and a lice comb (the expensive metal kind)…good luck.

  28. Lee Says:

    Hope they’re gone by now. I had them as a child- at least school nurses now are understanding. When there’s an outbreak at my daughter’s school, I don’t let her wash her hair more than once a week. We’ve had good luck with tea tree oil in the shampoo. Good luck!

  29. Liz Says:

    Cetaphil treatment in the NYT

    Wish I had known about this when we went through the lice incident!

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