Lice! Yes, lice. Creepy, skreepy, yucky, ucky, ooey, gooey (gooey?), m*ther f*cking LICE!
Shortly before Christmas, DD's principal notified the parents that there had been a case of lice in DD's room. After that, DD and her classmates were subjected to daily head searches (from both the school and required of us, as though we actually knew what we were looking for - um, ew?), bagging of her personal possessions, enforced personal distance, a requirement that we put her hair up (which she freaking hates), and a demand that we wash her coat and accessories on an almost daily basis. Which, of course, made for an overall skeevy feeling whenever we walked into her classroom.
It happened again in January. Lather. Rinse. And repeat in March. Needless to say, I was p*ssed. Because really? How freaking hard could it be to get rid of a case of lice? We'd heard it was the same kids over and over, with the occasional new kid infected - so who were the parents who weren't working at it hard enough? (I know, not fair, but seriously - three times?)
In an effort to eradicate the lice, the school brought in the equivalent of a nuclear bomb - a professional lice brigade! Who inspected everyone's head. And guess what? Ah, yes. They found a nit in DD's head. DD and three other children were forced to sit in the principal's office until mom and/or dad came to get them. How embarrassing. (And totally unnecessary, really, because helloooo . . . this has been going on for months.) The third bout with lice turned out to be, well, not exactly a charm for DD.
When I arrived at the school, after I hugged my poor daughter who I imagine was feeling a bit like Typhoid Mary,* the principal handed me an index card with a taped "sample" from DD's head. It was a nit, but holy cow - it was about half the size of a typed "." and completely unlike any of the pictures that I'd Googled. Oh, and did I mention that it was also brown and matched her hair color exactly? I now know that I would need a magnifying glass to see a nit. They told us that we could keep the card as a souvenir. Yay!
Have I mentioned lately that even though DD has her own room, she still sleeps with us? Next to me? So, yes, I was little freaked out. But, I'd already learned from the lice brigade's website that they offered a heat dryer treatment that was guaran-effing-teed to get rid of lice and eggs. FDA approved. One treatment. One clean up. All gone. The price was a little steep ($145), but it included a lot of product, the head inspections (for everyone), and the heat treatment (for one person).
The lice brigade's "boutique" (not their real name, of course) was located about an hour away from us. I called them on my way to pick DD up. Can you see us today? How about in an hour? Is an hour good for you? I couldn't get an appointment until 2:30 that day, and it wasn't soon enough. I told DH that he would need to meet us there, and everyone was going to get a head check.
All the way there, my head itched (and honestly, it has been itching a little bit the week before). I was absolutely convinced that it was total party time on MM - because I could feel them moving people!! Ewwww. But, after the inspection, it turned out that DD was newly infected, because she had about 20 nits, nothing living, and DH and I were clean.
I thought that can't be true! But it was. I apparently just had a dry scalp that day. And all movement that I felt was all in my head, not on my head. I asked if I could be treated anyway, just in case. The woman looked at me as if I were a bit nuts, and said that a lice treatment wouldn't be necessary for me, because, you know, I didn't actually have lice.
DD loved the blow trying treatment. Afterward, they put some yucky stuff in her hair and wrapped it in a plastic bag, which I think was supposed to dissolve any nit glue in her hair so that all debris would be washed away (it looked gross). She only needed to leave it on for ten minutes, but our drive was much longer than that. We left with an enzyme that supposedly dissolved both eggs and bugs that you could spray on furniture if you wanted, a super duper nit comb that I didn't need (because they combed DD's hair out), as well as some repellent (which aggravated my asthma for a week and totally wasn't worth it - I think it was made of eucalyptus and citronella).
I did learn some interesting things about these little effers, since we spent quite a bit of time at the lice boutique that day and I didn't have anything else to do except ask 50 million questions:
- Lice like clean hair, and maybe one of the reasons why they are being reported frequently these days is because we wash our hair more than we used to. I do not ever remember hearing about lice when I was in school, but I also didn't wash my hair every day either - maybe this is why we didn't hear about them?
- Lice really can't move around very well when they aren't in your hair. If you've ever seen a picture of one, it makes sense. They have little claw like legs in the front, and a big butt - but no back legs! You could point and laugh if one fell onto a counter; they aren't going anywhere. It would be like having no legs and having to crawl around using your elbows. Really inefficient.
- The over the counter products don't work, because hellooooo, they haven't changed the formulation in years, and the lice laugh - yes, they laugh - when you coat them with this junk. (I just threw in the laugh part; I think they probably just smirk a bit.) Honestly, based on what other moms have told me, I think that it's the daily use of the nit comb and good house cleaning - more than the over the counter insecticide - that gets rid of them.
- The forced clothes washing? Hah! More laughter from the lice, because they can old their breath for up to eight hours. They could care less if you wash your clothes. Wash them twice! (Snicker.)
- Now as for the drying part, well, they don't like that very much. All you need to do is use the dryer on timed high heat for 30 minutes, and presto! Bugs and eggs - all gone. (Insert maniacal laughter here, because I am empowered now.) Things that can't be put in the dryer can just be put in a plastic bag for two weeks, or in the freezer for 24 hours.
- Lice are transmitted from one person to another through the obvious - sharing hats, touching heads, sharing hairbrushes - but they are also fabulous trapeze artists. They actually can swing from an infected head to a non-infected head in a flash, and the hair barely has to touch. Apparently, they are less inclined to trapeze over to a new head if the new head has the stinky repellent on it - kind of like you might not be inclined to walk into a kitchen where they were cooking something that you really hate eating. (I say that the repellent is "stinky" just because it makes me wheeze; I suppose it doesn't smell all that offensive to someone without asthma.)
- Head lice do not spread disease.
- According to our state's website, you don't have to empty the vacuum after your home clean up, unless of course you want to (they can't crawl around, remember?)
- The whole point of the clean up is to pick up any hairs that have fallen out of an infected head that might contain a nit, because the lice can hatch any time up to two weeks later. So, I really didn't need to freak the f*ck out because I stupidly put my purse on the floor at the lice boutique in the treatment room - just a quick whisk with a lint remover was all that was necessary.
- Lice really can't live for very long away from a host. They say that they can live up to 48 hours without a meal, but our state's website suggested that it really is only a matter of hours or even less.
I'd emailed our pediatrician right after we heard that there had been a third infestation but before I knew that DD was affected, because I've always felt that forewarned is forearmed. She suggested something that actually suffocates the lice and is inexpensive to use (not an insecticide). But the downside of that would be the daily clean up for the two week period, because the nits could still hatch. I prefer the heat treatment, frankly.
It's taken me awhile to write this post, and right now, we are at the point where we are ready to take our things out of plastic bags, and this is the end of the last week to wear her hair up. Oddly, DD's been asking when she can go back to the lice boutique again, because she thought the blow dryer treatment was so much fun!
Eh. I think I'll pass on that.
* - Though Typhoid Mary wasn't nearly as cooperative as DD.