PART 1: THOSE KIDS ALWAYS HAVE LICE
First and foremost, if you have a case of head lice and want to know what to do RIGHT NOW, you will want to explore The School Nurse Lice Battle Plan. After you have a grip on the situation, return to this article and get a better idea of not only getting rid of head lice but keeping it gone! These articles will cover head lice and not body lice or pubic lice.
“...you have about a 2-3% chance of getting head lice each year.” - Nurse Kevin
“So, you want me to poison my children’s heads just because they have lice,” a very upset mother asked me during one of many phone calls I had made to to this “elusive” mamma. Getting ‘hold of her was challenging in the first place. And, after a sneaky plot to get her on the phone, we finally had a conversation about the four little heads that have been persistently infested with bugs all school year. “They don’t cause disease; you should know that!” She was insistent that the bugs living in her children’s hair was okay.
What could I say to this? After all, the CDC confirms what she said, “...they have not been shown to spread disease.” So, I just sat there and let a long, uncomfortable pause linger in the air like a bad smell. This pause allows time for my mind to process this statement. There were two reasons why she felt so sincerely against “poisoning” her children’s heads. Either she really felt that the “poison” will cause some health issues for her children (more on that later), or she was using this as a pathway for me...rather...the school district...to just ‘accept the head lice and get over it!’
As a school nurse, how do I respond to this? It was clear that she knew her children had bugs and it was becoming clear that she was going to let these bugs persist on her children’s little heads. “Madam, I don’t mean to be rude or to pull any punches here, but you’ve lost something very valuable.”
“And what’s that?” She snapped.
“You have lost the ‘ick factor’.”
Let’s pause here and explain the “ick factor.” I’ve been a nurse for 20 years and have worked in many different “genres” of nursing. I’ve been in the hospital, nursing home, home health and hospice and even dabbled into some workman’s comp nursing. I’ve seen many nurses and other co-workers become very complacent with the “messy parts” of their particular jobs. I’ve seen “killers” (an actual job description) in a chicken processing factory who are covered in chicken poop and feathers enjoy a nice lunch followed by a “cigarette desert” during their break-time. There are the rough-and-tough, hard-working CNAs who have discovered a hole in their glove “after the fact” and are A-OK with a simple hand washing as if the “soiling” was nothing out of the ordinary. There’s a certain level of “ick” or grossness that we all have on day one...you know...when we are new at the job or task and have never been exposed to that particular ‘grody stuff’ before. Once we’ve had it (whatever grossness “it” is) on our skin a half dozen times, we become more emotionally immune to the ickiness of “it.”. Let’s speak frankly: getting someone else’s doo-doo on your finger is a pretty bad experience. By the time it happens 100 times, I would assume that it would be less of an emotional crisis than the first time. As we are exposed to the “ickiness” for long enough we lose a bit of the emotional sensitivity to that in which we once found “icky.” You know what I mean, right? Anyway...back to our phone call with this mother:
“‘Ick factor?’ What an ‘ick factor’?” She responded in a tone of voice that was more demanding than curious.
“Yes ma’am. The ‘ick factor,’ that gross feeling you get when you realized that a creepy-crawly has been been crawling on you like a spider or a furry caterpillar or a great big moth. You do know that while your little children sleep so innocently in their beds, these bugs are sucking your children’s blood, pooping on their scalps and doing boy-girl stuff that you’d cover your young-uns eyes if they were exposed to such lewdness.”
Now, it was her time to pause and contemplate. This time her tone was less-than-defensive, “Well…”
I confirmed her “Well?”
“Well, since you put it that way!”
And there it was; the feeling of “ick.” Going from “it’s just bugs” to “you mean bugs are poo-pooing on my kindergartener’s sweet little head and having ‘relations’ while they dream of sugar plum fairies” was just where I wanted this mamma to go...emotionally. I wanted her to feel less complacent (yes, just a little icky) that both she and her children were crawling with insects.
She tried to clarify, “Me? What do you mean? I don’t have lice!”
“Oh yes ma’am. You have the same bugs in your hair that your children have in theirs.” Finding this motivator turned out to be invaluable.
“How do you know I have bugs?” She emphasized the “I” part as if she felt indignant over having been falsely accused of a crime. The mother paused and realized the answer to her own question. “Okay. What do I do?”
And we had a breakthrough!
In all fairness, I don’t want you to get a picture of a careless mother who didn’t love her children. Those kids would hug on her every time she came to the school to pick them up. Maybe it was because on those times they were all going home early… Na… They love their mamma.
Persistent pediculosis is not a sign of ‘not loving your children.’ Persistent pediculosis is a sign of ‘not knowing what to do.’ Complacency with pediculosis a sign of ‘giving up.’ I hope that the information I share in this article will help you help all the struggling parents and their children that have lice and ‘just don’t know what to do’ as well as getting the parents ‘back in the fight!’
RID VS NIX
RID contains pyrethrum and NIX contains permethrin. But what does that mean? Is one better than the other at killing lice and what about all those eggs?
THE BATTLE PLAN
You’ve found lice on a head in your home. WHAT THE HECK!? Okay, don’t sweat. You’ve got this. Read this LICE BATTLE PLAN and get them bugs gone!!
ALL ABOUT LICE
Learn more about lice. You have an 2-3% chance of lice coming into your home this year. The more you know about these pests the better prepared you’ll be.