It happened. A new motherhood-rite-of-passage.
You hope, hope, hope, it never will and then it does. Kate and I got lice. Ewwwww….just say it. (Are you scratching your head yet?)
Kate had been scratching her head for a week or so, and I was faithfully checking her hair and scalp. AND NOT FINDING A THING.
Then, the morning we were set to leave for a lovely nearby resort, I had the silly notion to check her again. I found LIVE LICE on her head! Double ewwwww!! In a New York minute, I pulled out the NIX and started in on her. Tears. Hers. Mine.
Then I called the pediatrician for additional help. A nurse said to put mayonnaise on her with a shower cap and have her sit in the sun for 20 minutes. That would do it!
My husband and I went into high gear. I mean HIGH GEAR. We stripped Kate’s room down, put her mattress on the driveway, threw out her pillow, and bagged every toy, stuffed animal (does she need so many?), and dolls. All bedding and towels (even clean ones) in the house became Mount Kilamanjaro of laundry in my kitchen. All pillows, decorative pillows, and sofa cushions were bagged and put in the sun. Sofa and carpets vacuumed. My adrenaline was pumping and I had mixed feelings of anger, disappointment, and a just-get-it-done attitude.
I “googled” Hair Fairies and found the “Hair Angels” in our area. The Hair Angels come to you!! I knew it’d be costly, but who else could come and check us and treat us? How was I to know if I really got all of it out Kate’s hair? Who would check me?
Chris and the boys left for the resort, and would return for the home appointment. Kate and I did laundry and played cards while we waited for our “angel” to arrive. And waited. And did more laundry. I let Kate eat junk food and watch tv. Whenever. I just let THAT all go. The poor girl would burst into tears spontaneously, as she thought we would never get to “the fancy resort.”
At last, Zigi (her real name) arrived! She checked Chris and the boys first and they were clear to return to Paradise. Kate and I—well not so much. She found lice on me, too. Not much, but does that mean you itch less and are grossed out ANY LESS? One egg or one live louse is all you need to get it. The Hair Angel went through every single strand of hair with her metal comb. As she poked and pulled I asked a bazillion questions and took furious notes.
Here are a few magical things I learned:
1). Lice cannot live beyond 24 hours without human contact. (THANK GOD we were going to Terranea overnight. If anything was in the house, it’d be dead when we got back.)
2). Lice can hold their breath for 3 hours.
3). Washing doesn’t kill them. It’s the hot dryer (for at least 20 minutes) that kills them and the eggs.
4). Chemicals you buy to “kill” don’t penetrate the lice eggs, also called nits. Its the tedious, laborious combing out that rids you of it all.
5). Mint spray is an effective repellant for every day use. (You can purchase from the Hair Angel Company.) Tea tree oil or peppermint oil also help to repel, but a little smelly and greasy.
6). Lice love and cling to clean hair. So don’t wash your kids hair every day.
7). You get lice or you don’t get lice, when exposed to it. Not for any other reason.
8). Lice cling to the hair shaft when you are in a swimming pool. (So swimming at the resort would not endanger other kids or people in the pool.)
9). Once you have been treated, you MUST check your hair with the metal comb for 7 days, sometimes 14 days, to make sure you don’t get re-infested.
10). Every morning during the same time period, you must put your bed pillow and linens in the hot dryer for 20 minutes to kill anything that may possibly be there. (Being Paranoid Polly that I am, I did it for 30 minutes.)
The Hair Angel was worth every penny ($226), to be assured of being completely free of any lice or eggs in our hair. Thankfully Kate and I don’t have thick, long hair either, or we could have spent double or triple that amount.
I had lice dreams for a week in between flip-flopping around all night. I was still itchy-twitchy and fearful it was not gone. I was following all the rules and being crazy consistent with cleaning. (Even more than what’s normal for me.) I still feared we had it.
But when Zigi came back a week later to give us all our get-out-of-jail pass, I was ecstatic! I was relieved that life could be normal again! I told Zigi, “You must be so fulfilled knowing you TRULY help people all day long.” She just smiled sweetly.
I hope I never, ever see her again. And I mean that in the nicest of ways.