“Stop, collaborate, and listen, lice are back with a brand new edition. Lice, lice, baby, in your hair, in your hair.” Sing this ditty to the tune of Vanilla Ice’s (AKA: Rob Van Winkle’s) smash early 90’s hit, Ice Ice Baby. Hey Rob, if you don’t sue me for copyright infringement, I won’t mention that you forgot to negotiate the rights to “Under Pressure” with David Bowie.
But I digress. The topic is lice. I have had many discussions with parents of my generation about the confounding nature of lice, and the fact that nobody remembers anyone getting lice when we were growing up. Fast forward to the 2000’s and they are pervasive. Our family has had the honor of having them twice. I asked our local lice removal service if we could join their frequent flyer program. I’ve also considered getting a chimpanzee as a family pet. He could munch on our lice and nits all day, and I could make a lot of money renting him out to other lice-ridden families.
If you aren’t planning to acquire a chimpanzee as a preemptive strike against lice, I have outlined the six phases of lice infestation and provided a helpful protocol if you find your family in this predicament.
1) Panic!! If you find lice in your child’s head, now is really the time to come unglued. Let’s face it, it’s just so farging gross! Your children, and perhaps you, are now the gracious hosts to cooties that are feeding off your scalp and procreating at a most astonishing rate! Your head is a traveling microcosm of these happy parasites that have colonized on your head, like some tiny imperialist army.
2) Deal: Give yourself 15 minutes to freak out. Scream, cry, beat your chest. EMOTE! Explain to your frightened and bewildered children, that “Mommy is having a really bad moment, but it will be over soon”. Take a few deep breaths, and then go into “combat mode.” Remind yourself that lice have become common place, it’s almost like getting a common cold. There is no shame in lice, in fact, it’s the great equalizer, crossing all socio, economic, and racial barriers. It does not mean that you and your children are dirty skanks. In fact, lice really like clean hair. Greasy hair is a hostile environment to them. Also, please keep in mind that although disgusting, it is not a deadly disease, so regroup, and get your life in perspective.
3) Treat: Once you’ve had time to digest and emote, my best advice is to find the nearest lice removal service. It‘s expensive, but it’s very effective. Eradicating lice is not just about removing the bugs. Every tiny nit, (the eggs) are barely visible to the naked eye, and clinging for dear life to the hair follicles. If you do not remove every nit, from every human head in your family, they will keep coming back for time and all eternity.
A good service guarantees the removal of all lice and nits in one visit. Be prepared to be there for several hours, depending upon the severity of your infestation. Our local service, “Lice Knowing You”, guarantees full lice/nit removal and offers a free check 2-3 days after removal. You must have every person in your household checked and treated. Due to a merciful God, your pets cannot get lice. And for what it’s worth, lice cannot live in any other patches of hair on your body that you choose to cultivate.
I do not wish to be flippant about the high cost of lice removal services. It is painful to shell out all that dough. If it is absolutely beyond your budget, you will need to enlist the help of a truly benevolent person who has experience with lice removal. It seems that “lice-whisperers” are cropping up in every community, and are there to help. Of course, it is not impossible to rid your family of lice on your own, but I don’t advise this strategy.
4) The Walk of Shame: Simultaneous to your removal efforts, you must think of everyone you or your children have been in close contact with over the last few weeks. Your conversations might go something like this, “Hi, this is <insert your name here>, I’m at the lice clinic. We have lice, and I wanted to let you know that you and your children should get checked. I’m really sorry, we had no idea. Please don’t be mad; I’m already really humiliated. The good news is that with proper treatment, it’s completely curable”…This may sound strangely familiar to a few of you out there. Perhaps you had a similar conversation in your wild college days? Hopefully you weren’t such a depraved party girl that you knew exactly who to contact….
5) Cleaning Frenzy: Okay, so now that that’s out of the way, prepare to be a washer woman/man. All bedding, stuffed animals, furniture and rugs must be washed, removed or vacuumed. The key is hot temperature; hot water and a very hot dryer. The good news is the removal of lice and nits from your head is really 97% of the battle. They can’t live for more than 24 hours without a human host, and the nits (eggs) if they manage to extricate from your hair, cannot hatch without a host. If you can afford it, AFTER your family has been professionally de-lousified, go stay at The Four Seasons for a couple of days. You have my blessing. The rest of us, well, we will just gut-it-out at home.
6) Impassioned plea/ Public Service Announcement: If you discover that you have lice, act immediately, and then tell all your friends. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed, this is not due to drunken promiscuity. Just wear it with pride. If you don’t tell your peeps, the cycle will perpetuate and you could find yourself and your family back in Liceville really soon. Trust me when I tell you that you will get through it. The last time we got lice, I handled it with grace and aplomb. Jackie O. could not have handled it any better.