The nitty-gritty of head lice

lysienieSo your little princess, or your little prince, comes from school one day and scratches her, or his heart out; basically they scratch their head out. You make some elusive “what if?” kind of thoughts, but sooner or later attribute the improper behavior to some over-accumulated dirt or to a new unpalatable habit they have picked up at school. One, even two days could pass before you start seeing light. Only when you do, it will possibly be because you’ve actually caught the devious little parasites red-handed. From this point on your feelings and actions are actually predefined, possibly by some genetically coded urges, which are universally unchanged. Shock, denial, painful realization, panic, uncoordinated, fruitless moves, which end up spreading panic to all family members, useless phone calls to people who are the least suitable for giving the right answers and lastly, a visit to the pharmacist. After that crucial turning point, things tend to straighten up and you can see actual light at the end of the tunnel.

There is possibly only one way to escape this painful, fate-like procedure that follows the first, sometimes even the next, head-lice episodes: being thoroughly informed! Thanks to the super-easy accessibility to the World Wide Web, finding formal and medically correct information about lice or reading about experiences of others and finding advice based on age-acquired wisdom is a piece of cake. For starters, a perfect site to find reliable and really helpful info is that of the American Academy of Dermatology (aad.org). The related info of this site will first and foremost put you at ease about that “code-name scratch” situation of yours. It’s not your fault, or your child’s fault for bringing home head lice, it doesn’t mean you are dirty, because lice aren’t put off by clean hair and you won’t get any diseases, because lice only make you scratch. All you have to do is provide yourself with some over-the-counter medication that will help you wipe out the parasite colony and prevent your offspring from scratching their head too hard, because this could lead to wounds, which could then be infected. If you should face any extraordinary problems, like to have been unlucky enough to be up against Rocky Balboa lice, you can always contact your dermatologist!

As with every problem, there are a couple of key-points that you should be extra careful about. Firstly, you should turn yourself into a Hercule Poirot, that is, you must use all your little grey cells to thoroughly inspect all members of your family as well as objects like towels, rugs and headphones for lice infestation. Secondly you must become familiar with the right technique of “treating” a lice infested head. You will need a special comb, and a well thought-out tactic. Choose a comfortable place to sit, wet the child’s hair for better visibility, use a source of bright light, examine the hair one section after the other. Repeat the procedure every day for at least two weeks and retreat with the anti-lice medication a week after the first treatment. Note that lice love to nest around the ears and the nape of the neck. Don’t forget that lice-eggs, the so called nits, are firmly attached to the hair and it requires some effort to pull them away. Adult lice are little bugs that move fast and also need to be removed.

Unfortunately there’s a lot more to be done than that. Devious as lice are, they like to cuddle in the most imaginative places, like furniture, various items of daily use, linen, clothes and the like. Whatever can be washed you must wash with hot water and also dry in the dryer at the biggest possible temperature. Items that cannot be washed must be closes air-tightly in plastic bags, which you can then either leave in the fridge overnight or leave in the sealed bags for 15 days. Vacuum the furniture and other surfaces were hairs might have fallen, carefully. Leave the lice combs in very hot water for about a quarter of the time. The most important thing is, however, either to prevent an episode all along or to prevent a recurrence in the future. There are a lot of strategies about that, like teaching your kids to be careful with sharing objects that come in close contact with the hair and to be on the alert for lice outbreaks in school or in the neighborhood, so as to act fast.

In any case, you shouldn’t take the whole thing so badly, because head lice is something that mankind has been experiencing for millions of years, that is, it’s nothing new and nothing out of the ordinary. And don’t you say that you don’t relish at the idea that when you prince is older and ready to get married, you will be able to tell you daughter-in-law “I remember when he got his first lice, he was six and crying like a baby when I combed him!” Admittedly, though, this would hardly promote mother-son affection.