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This is the stuff nightmares are made of. I’ve had actual bad dreams about lice since I was a kid. Somehow, I made it through public school K-12 without head cooties. I had a kid and the whole anxiety thing started again. Then I inherited a bonus kid, and it doubled.
*I would just like to point out that WordPress keeps insisting what I’m meaning to say is “nice”. It’s not. It’s lice. Keep up, WordPress… *
I had 8 whole years to relish our cootie free lifestyle. I randomly checked their heads while brushing or just snuggling on the couch. A note from school saying there had been a confirmed case in the class warranted a belly full of butterflies and a more thorough investigation. Nothing. For 8 years.
And then the little one started scratching her head. A lot. I immediately combed through her hair, looking for anything out of the ordinary. Nothing. That earned a sigh of relief that came all the way from my toes. Her head kept itching and I kept checking. Finding nothing, we thought that she was having some sort of reaction and tried to figure out what could have changed to make her so itchy. We still couldn’t come up with anything, said we’d keep an eye on it, and gave her Benadryl.
SN: Benadryl doesn’t do a thing in the world for cooties. Just FYI.
A week or so passes, the poor girl is still scratching relentlessly, and we’re finding nothing to give her any relief. By now, it’s to the point that it’s affecting her sleep. Right about then, the oldest started scratching. Stomach in knots, I checked both little heads and came up empty once again. Their scalps were irritated from all the scratching, but no creepy crawlies to be seen.
Now we’re thinking that it’s obviously an allergic reaction to something. Something that they’re both being exposed to, something that has changed recently, something must be causing this, but what? Something that causes…tiny red spots? Not bumps, just spots. WTF. I’m still not seeing anything else in their hair, so I do the logical thing and ask the internet. According to a Google search, it’s the plague. Not really, but Google is awesome for telling you that your random headache means you’re heading for an aneurysm any day now.
Facebook was more helpful, as it usually is. My mommy friends all started asking questions and verifying symptoms. I kept getting the same answer. It’s lice. Treat for lice. It’s still lice. I don’t care what you’re finding or not finding, it’s lice. My response was pretty consistent: IT’S NOT FRIGGIN LICE!!!
It was totally lice.
The big reveal
I want to give myself a medal and a ridiculous amount of praise for not screaming and running out of the house when I finally identified that first little nit. I didn’t want to freak the child out or make her feel weird so I was nonchalantly all, “Oh hey, looky what we got here. Just some bug eggs, no biggie. We got this under control.”
As it turns out, we DID have it under control! I had sent the older one to school that morning after another thorough check (nothing in her head), a tea tree shampoo, and an apple cider vinegar rinse as a means of prevention. This is the child who hates anything that smells even slightly unpleasant so the vinegar rinse was a LOT of fun. Husband went to get our supplies while I regretted covering the littlest one’s head in tea tree and olive oil.
Nix is where it’s at. My husband got a convenient little box containing the creme rinse (used in the bath and only had to stay on 10 minutes), combing gel and tiny toothed comb (nitpicking tools), and a control spray (used on things I couldn’t machine wash or bag. I wasn’t crazy about using this stuff on the girls but it turns out that Nix is the #1 pediatrician recommended brand. And it works. Sold.
Upon further reflection
Only days later, I am completely underwhelmed with the whole lice experience. I mean, yeah, having bugs live on you is kind of gross and lice has a crazy bad stigma but…it really wasn’t all that bad. We treated everyone in the family, although we only found eggs on one of the girls. Washed bedding, towels, clothes, etc in hot water and dried on high. We’ve gotten probably 95% of the nits out of some incredibly long hair and are working on those last little stubborn guys. And that’s it.
I had this thing built up in my head like it was going to be bamboo under fingernails level torture. It wasn’t. I wish there were some way to change the association people have with lice: kids (and adults) who get it aren’t dirty or gross. It’s way more common than I thought, it’s much less contagious than I thought, and it’s a wayyyy easier to treat than I thought. There was a momentary freak out, a little Nix treatment, a LOT of combing and picking, and some laundry. I’ll take that over last year’s Fleamageddon any day.
Anyone have any lice stories to share? No way am I the only one who was completely skeeved out by the thought!