Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pulling My Hair Out - Part 2

I'm a little late, but I intended to finish my story about my run-in with lice so here goes...

And another thing, this lice incident ended up being the first of a series of bad incidents, which have made the past 3 months very trying, which is why I am so late with my update. That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

I can just picture my Mom now, mortified that I shared this lice experience on the Internet. When I first found out my kid had lice, my first instinct was to keep it to myself; sort of as if my kid had leprosy. But then, we were amazed at the number of people who knew about Fiona's predicament tell us their kids or even they had lice at one time. And these were not dirty people. One of these people was one of my oldest friends, who I have known over a decade, and I had no idea she had lice as a kid.

Nevertheless, Fiona's school would assure me there is no stigma, and at the same time insist she must have gotten lice from playgroup. Fiona's playgroup insisted she got lice from school. For a condition that isn't supposed to have stigma, people were sure eager to point blame, and perpetuate denial.

I concluded Fiona could have gotten lice anywhere and went about my business as if she could have gotten it anywhere. This made me a little on edge. I was paranoid about hats, and her coat touching another kid's coat at school. Finally I did some research.

Let's dispel some myths, shall we?

Lice can fly and jump - Lice do not have wings and their legs are short. The kids' heads must be literally touching for lice to spread. The chance of getting lice from sharing hats is possible, but remote.

To get rid of lice, you must vacuum constantly, launder everything and bag all pillows and stuffed animals for two weeks - Lice rarely leave the human head, and when they do, they only live for maybe 20 minutes unless they find another human head. The eggs don't leave the human head at all. They must be combed out, and believe me, combing them out is a b1tch. Time is better spent removing all lice and nits (the eggs) from the kids' heads.

Only dirty kids get lice - Lice don't care whether a head is clean or dirty. In fact, lice only leave a head once it gets too crowded.

My Mom did some research and found out there are actually professional nit-pickers who will de-lice your kid's head. I thought the idea was a little overboard for me, more suitable for yuppies living in the tony suburbs with money to burn. And then, after about a week of combing Fiona's hair, and still finding lice, and then finding lice in my own hair - the horrors - I found myself packing the kids up in the car and driving two hours to the only nit-picking service in the state. I just knew Rob lacked the patience to comb the lice out of my hair.

My friends thought I was a little crazy, but I'll tell you, I actually missed a couple of days of work due to this, and I wish I would have done it sooner. The money was worth it for the education, and now I know what to do if we should run into this problem again. More importantly I learned about prevention.

I was told to comb through Fiona's hair once every month until she was through with 8th grade. This is about in 10 years. Do you think I have done that? Hah - no. Especially with the past 3 months I have had. But I have learned proper combing techniques, and I know what to do once I get a notice from Fiona's (or Paul's) school that there has been a lice spotting.

A note about over the counter products - I used Nix at the recommendation of my pediatrician as my first attempt. I found it absolutely useless. Next I used Lice MD, also at the recommendation of my pediatrician, and found it worked pretty well, but while the label claims there are no pesticides in it, there must be some sort of chemical in it, and I found it irritated my skin. The best home remedy I found was to coat the head in olive oil and cover with a shower cap overnight, and then comb with a good de-lice comb. I used a brand called, "Nit Free" which is the best I have found. Then comb again with a de-lice comb and conditioner.

And knowing what I know now, I have to vent a little. These "no nit" policies at school are unnecessary and quit a hassle. A "no-live-lice" policy, I can understand, and nits will become live lice if not removed, however, nits never leave the hair unless manually removed, and manually removing them can take a week of combing. To remove a kid from school and disrupt the kid's learning for a week due to nits is completely asinine. Lice itself is not something to be ignored, but not a serious health problem, but rather a nuisance.

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