Lice. I hate that word, and I hate the havoc the nasty little bugs cause. When I was small, I remember my mom constantly having to do head checks on us for lice. There seemed to always be an infestation at school or at church.
My sister’s and I had hair down to our waists, so the procedure of my mom looking through all of that hair for lice eggs was not fun. We never had lice, but she didn’t take any chances. Whenever a new report of lice came out, we would have the head inspection, and all our bedding would be washed, and or stored away in garbage bags for a few weeks. At the time, not a lot of information was out there about lice, so my mom was trying to be proactive.
I haven’t thought about lice in decades. Until yesterday, when Ryan’s school said there had been a few confirmed cases of lice. The afterschool care had his items double bagged in garbage bags, (just like when I was a kid), and said they were taking every precaution since one of the kids with lice has had it twice now.
According to Kidshealth.org, some of the signs of lice are scalp itching, and small red bumps or sores from scratching. Lice can be seen with the naked eye, and some kids may even feel the lice and verbalize it. Lice eggs can look like dandruff, but they will not flake off the hair when flicked, like dandruff will.
Kidshealth.org also has some good suggestions on how to get rid of lice, or prevent an reinfestation:
Wash all bed linens and clothing that’s been recently worn by anyone in your home who’s infested in very hot water (130° Fahrenheit, 54.4° Celsius), then put them in the hot cycle of the dryer for at least 20 minutes.
Dry clean any clothing that isn’t machine washable.
Have bed linens, clothing, and stuffed animals and plush toys that can’t be washed dry-cleaned. Or, put them in airtight bags for 2 weeks.
Vacuum carpets and any upholstered furniture (in your home or car).
Soak hair-care items like combs, barrettes, hair ties or bands, headbands, and brushes in rubbing alcohol or medicated shampoo for 1 hour. You can also wash them in hot water or throw them away.
I didn’t find a lot of information on preventing lice when you have never had it, although the above guidelines may apply if your child has been around an infested person.
The school seems to have taken all the precautions they can. Ryan told me even their classroom chairs are covered in plastic. I talked to him about not sharing hats, combs, sunglasses, and the school is having their personal items plastic bagged for now. I am also going to wash his clothes every night until the school is “deloused, “as an extra precaution. I’d much rather do a small load of laundry daily, than have to deal with lice in our home, and the process of getting rid of them.
There are a lot of natural remedies out there too, but I didn’t find anything very consistent. I usually like natural remedies in most cases, but with lice, since they are so contagious, I think the conventional methods for treating lice is best and most effective to eliminate them completely.
In the meantime, we will have Ryan’s coat and backpack bagged up every day, I’ll be doing laundry at night, and keeping my fingers crossed those dreaded nits don’t make an appearance in our house, or on our heads!