A Very "Louse-y" Situation
My nine year old eyes widened under my pink, plastic glasses, and my heartbeat quickened. I stood in the line with at least a hundred other children all in gingham uniforms, waiting to get checked for head lice. As my turn approached I could smell the Dettol, a liquid substance with a dreadful odor. Combs were dipped in this liquid as a method of disinfecting in between head inspections for creepy crawly things and their eggs. Little beads of sweat began to appear on my face. I closed my eyes and clenched my fists together, half in anxiety and half in prayer that nothing would be found on my head. Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, head lice was a common thing in schools and at least once a school term, every child would be inspected in this process. I’m not sure if I was more afraid of the head lice or the embarrassment I would feel to be singled out as one of the students who had it.
Fast forward 28 years. I’m sitting drinking coffee and meeting with my team for Balance and Bloom (new business for moms launching soon) when my phone starts blinking. Since it seems to be blowing up, I decided to check it. I could feel the blood draining from my face as I read the message. I swear the scent of "Dettol" wafted past my nose. Someone in my daughter’s pre-k class had head lice. I tried to focus throughout the rest of my meeting but couldn’t shake the imaginary itching all over my body.
I texted back and forth with moms who had already picked up their kids to find out if anyone else had found the dreaded lice taking up residence on their little ones’ scalp. “Not today Satan,” I typed in a message to one of the moms, evoking a train of laughing emojis. But this was no joke. On my drive across town to pick up the kids I couldn’t bear to think of what I might find. This isn’t a good day for this, I thought. There’s so much going on right now in addition to the regular "mom stuff."
Once I got the kids into the car and drove out of the school gate I pulled over and did a quick check. “Phewf” I didn’t see anything. But a few minutes after we got home, my daughter was sitting on my lap eating her snack and I swore I saw something move on her head. I jumped up and went into total panic mode! How could this be happening to us?!! I wash their hair thoroughly every night and comb it, and have never seen anything. I paced around for a few minutes, frantically calling my older sister a mom of five! Within minutes it was determined that there was no way I was handling this on my own in my state of panic! I threw some snacks and bottles of water into my bag, grabbed the kids and ran to the car. To the lice clinic we went, itching all the way. I never even knew such a thing existed before that day. But I'm so glad it does.
It turns out that what I saw moving was just a piece of lint (insert nervous laugh here). But upon their full comb out of my daughter’s hair with conditioner they discovered ten eggs or “nits” as they are called. Thankfully nothing was found on myself or my son. Almost 3 hours later we left the clinic fully cleared and in shower caps which I forbid the children to remove until I could disinfect all their school stuff, sheets, pillow cases, blankets, car seats and stuffed animals. This tedious job went on into the wee hours of the morning.
The next day my paranoia drove me back to the lice clinic as I imagined every piece of lint or hint of dry scalp to be a moving creature. They patiently checked again for free (Thank God!) and declared us 100% lice free (again). I finally felt some sense of calm and relief returning although the panic is still setting in every now and then.
In the process of earning this infamous mommy badge this week, I learned some really important things about the whole head lice scenario that I want to share with you all:
· Lice clinics are shockingly expensive. But if you can somehow manage it’s totally worth it, especially if you are a paranoid slightly “cray” mama like me. The services are guaranteed and the staff was very patient and kind with my children and with me (I was hysterical).
· There are preventative measures that can be taken to mitigate the risk of your kids contracting these horrid pests at school. Apparently head lice are not fans of oily hair because they can’t get a good enough grip to stay on and lay their eggs. So, coconut oil is a great natural oil that can be put on the hair as a preventative measure, so "grease em up!" Additionally, tea tree oil mixed with fractionated coconut oil could be applied behind the ears to prevent lice, since they have an aversion to the smell.
· Head lice typically start behind the ears, at the nape of the neck or around the hairline. These are the first places to check. If your kids are in school do checks frequently!
· There are several over the counter, organic and all natural remedies sold at pharmacies to prevent lice. They include ingredients such as tea tree oil, rosemary oil, peppermint oil and citronella.
· Head lice do not fly or jump, but they do crawl. So encourage your kids to refrain from head to head contact and sharing head gear such as hats and caps with others!
· Having head lice does not mean that you have dirty hair or are an unclean person. To the contrary, lice tend to enjoy clean hair since it's not oily and they can easily stick to the strands close to the scalp. (Who would have thought? This does not mean you should stop washing your hair :P)
Do you have any recommendations for preventing or treating head lice? Have you already earned this mommy badge? Share your experiences in the comments to help other moms!
That’s all for now (I need to go spray my head with rosemary oil for the hundredth time :P). May the odds be ever in your favor!
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