Whenever an update appears in my inbox I immediately tune out everything around me until I can scan the email for those dreaded words: Head Lice
We've been lucky so far this year. I've seen a notice twice that there was a "suspected case" but there was never any follow-up or school head checks. Not like in years past.
The girls have had their fair share of head lice so far in their little lives. The first time we experienced it I was pregnant with Rose, and Emma was probably barely 3 years old. I had a little breakdown because I didn't think I could deal with all the things expected of a household who finds head lice.
I didn't want to use the horrible chemical shampoo on my 2 or 3 year old. I didn't think I could vacuum every surface in my house before she came into contact with the surfaces again. I couldn't imagine corralling all her toys and either washing and drying them or putting them in a bag for 2 weeks (and/or in the freezer - who has room for that??) And how do you get a 2 or 3 year old to sit still for an hour while you nit comb her entire head? Especially with a pregnant belly in the way? Ack!
Luckily I have great family nearby so I asked for help - mostly to do Emma's hair. She was a star that first time. She hated it, but she sat and let me pick and pick and pick. The girls had thin hair as toddlers so mostly I could see what was going on in there. I put on a movie and (no joke) she sat for a hour. And this is after I picked through while she was in the bath getting the shampoo washed out as well.
We've been fortunate that neither girl has had a serious infestation. I've managed to find it early every time (and there have been 3 large bottles of R&C amounts of times!) and alert daycare, which is where I think they came into contact with it - but not necessarily in the daycare house. They used to go to all sorts of programs and other places (which is also why I loved my daycare!) where the girls came into contact with lots of kids. Never have I been sure where the lice came from. I find that very frustrating.
A few things we do now (that may or may not be helping!) routinely:
- Tea Tree Oil - I put it right into the kids shampoo bottles, and then add a few drops to the squirt I put into my hand as well right before shampooing.
- Check the hair all the time - like while we're watching tv and the kids are cuddly. Catching it early is key!
- Wearing hair up as much as possible - this isn't often in my house because no one likes their hair brushed, and that's a vital component to being able to put it up!
- Using conditioner - I know there's conflicting evidence about conditioner use and head lice, but here Emma uses conditioner now (if she didn't there'd be no hair combing after!) and I often forget to do the tea tree oil, and she's not had lice in years. May be a coincidence, may not.
- Teach the kids about head lice - how it's spread, how early detection is key, and how to stick their hats into the sleeves of their coats. If they understand why we need to do this stuff, they are way more likely to comply. At least that's my experience. For a bit Rose was confused about "hair bugs" and "sugar bugs" (you know, the ones that cause cavities) That made for interesting teeth brushing conversations because that was often when I would try to look through her hair as well.