by Linda Crisalli
There’s nothing more annoying or that bothers people more than head lice. Those dang little critters always seem to show up at the most inconvenient times. The last thing in the world that you want to be doing is washing a mountain of laundry while you’re trying to get your darling child to sit still for the dreaded combing ritual.
And then there’s the embarrassment. We have all been told that head lice have nothing to do with poor hygiene, but you can’t help but wonder if the parents of your child’s classmates really believe it. Aaaargh!
I have been an early childhood education professional for a whole lot of years in addition to picking up practical experience in parenting children as a mom and grandma, and I have dealt with head lice more times than you can imagine (or want to imagine!). As you might guess, I have picked up some useful information over the years.
For whatever reason, head lice seem to prefer some children over others. Some children are directly exposed and never get them, while others get them every single time they go around. If your child is one of the unlucky ones, these are the highlights of what I’ve found will help you get through it as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
Speak with your child’s teachers to make sure that the children’s clothing does not come into contact with the clothing of others, including and especially their jackets and sweaters.
I have seen a lot of teachers who are really conscientious about making sure that children’s personal clothing items and outerwear stay in their own cubbies and on their own hooks. But then when the children go outside and start getting warm from active play, they dump their jackets and sweaters in one big pile!
Regardless of whether you prefer to use prescription or over-the-counter non-prescription chemical treatments, it is very important to follow the directions on the label exactly and completely. These products are insecticides.
Then there’s the combing, and combing, and combing some more to be absolutely sure that you have removed every single nit.
You need to wash all the clothing your child was wearing when the lice were discovered, as well as his towels, sheets, and pillows. It’s important to dry these items in a hot dryer.
Any items that cannot be machine washed and dried should be enclosed in a plastic bag that is securely closed for at least a month. This can be problematic if your child’s favorite “lovey” that he needs get to sleep at night is a stuffed animal that cannot be washed and dried. So word to the wise: do your best to make sure that your child has a security toy or “blankie” that can be machine washed and dried before you have to deal with head lice!
The hidden areas
In my experience, there are some things that parents often forget about as they are dealing with head lice.
When you are dealing with head lice, it is important to take the time and think about all of the personal items that could end up as the unwitting custodians of lice and nits that are anxiously waiting to come back into your life after you’ve worn yourself ragged with all that cleaning, treating, and combing.
The odds are that if you don’t take care of it sooner, you’ll have to deal with it later. Trust me; it’s better to do it right in the first place.
Linda Crisalli has extensive education, training, and over 40 years experience working with and in behalf of young children and their families. Linda lives in the Seattle area, near her two grown children and four precious grandchildren.© Photo by Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com