It started out just like any other day until I received a call from the nurse at my child's school.
"Mrs. Baumer, we have to inform you that your daughter has lice..."
That will take a mama down a few notches.
I was under the impression that I was a clean person. I kept my house tidy and my children bathed. I never had lice as a child and it was never on my radar. It just so happened that I unintentionally thought I was exempt from that kind of infestation. But let me enlighten you...
Lice do not discriminate. They like anyone who has warm blood and hair. Clean. Dirty. Girl. Boy. Straight hair. Curly hair. No one is immune to their unwanted presence.
So before you judge someone who has lice, just count yourself lucky because next time it could very well be you or your child or your whole family. Check your children's heads even if you think they are immune or even if they bathe with the magical unicorn milk that prevents any bug from gracing their sweet little angel scalps.
I don't know what I would have done without my mom that day. She gathered all the supplies necessary for extermination and set a plan into action while I remained in shock
forever for a few hours. So to help some other mamas out, I will share some very helpful information that I wish I had known prior to this whole situation.
The early signs:
- Keep an eye on the back of your child's neck and behind the ears. Sometimes small red bumps can appear due to the adult lice feasting. It is more common for them to gather towards the back of the head rather than the top.
- Pay special attention to signs of "dandruff flakes." Looks can be deceiving! These little posers might seem like innocent flakes of dry skin but they may actually be nits (AKA egg sacks). They are usually on the hair shaft (not directly on the scalp). A good way to determine whether it is dandruff or nits is that dandruff easily flakes from the hair when you touch it. The nits are tightly attached and do not come off easily.
Take action immediately:
- Of course you want to buy a lice treatment (from any drugstore) and get it on the hair ASAP. I recommend any kit that comes with a fine tooth comb. You work this solution into the hair section by section, let it sit for 10 minutes, comb through it section by section, wash it out, and comb through it again.
- Your work is not done, my friend! You also need to wash all the bedding, towels, bath mats, blankies, pillows, and stuffed animals. It would also be a good idea to vacuum all carpets and couches. We even vacuumed out all vehicles she rode in and sprayed them down with disinfectant spray.
- If your child goes to school, daycare, Mother's Day Out, etc. they will send a note home to all their classmates saying, "A child in your class was sent home with lice today..." The point of this is not to humiliate your child, but to alert all parents to check their children
- Maintenance is key! Even after a lice treatment, you need to continue combing and sometimes re-treatment is necessary. After a couple weeks I thought we were in the clear. And then I noticed all the same signs AGAIN. We did another treatment and ever since then I check her head every.single.day.
- I learned that lice hate tea tree oil. I put a few drops on her scalp every now and then. We also have a bottle of kids anti-lice shampoo. This is a proactive measure that uses various oils to prevent the presence of lice. One of my other favorites is a conditioning spray by Fairytales that uses rosemary as lice repel. I usually spray a little in my daughter's hair every morning when she gets ready for school. After all that rosemary and tea tree oil she can sometimes smell like a citronella candle, but it is better than the alternative!
Our lives will never be the same since the Lice Outbreak of 2015. I wish I had known more about what we were getting into at the time. Hopefully this information can encourage anyone else who falls victim to the same undesirable parasitic scalp guests.
Now go scratch your head, because I know you want to.