How to tell if your Child has Lice

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"How to tell if your Child has Lice"
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The Great Head Lice Invasion

One day I was sitting in church listening to the sermon, with my youngest daughter beside me. She was sleepy and had her head in my lap. As I was prone to do, I was playing with her hair, combing through it with my fingers, making little braids, when I swear I saw something move amongst the strands. I immediately sat my daughter up, suspecting what I saw and not wanting to have it on me. After the service I found the pastor's wife, with daughter in tow. I asked her if it was possible that what I saw was what I suspected. As she had just dealt with the matter herself in her own twin daughters, she did a quick inspection and confirmed my suspicions. Thus began the great head lice invasion of 1997.

As our two daughters shared a room and a double bed I did an inspection to the other girl to see whether or not the nasty little bugs had taken up residence there. Of course they had, so off to the store we went for lice shampoo and that little comb with tiny, close together teeth. I gathered up all their linens and laundered them, placing the pillows in plastic bags then putting a pillowcase over that. I also gathered up 12 million of their stuffed animals and dolls and bagged them up then sprayed Lysol throughout the entire house. I shampooed each girl's hair and went through the arduous process of combing and picking dead lice and nits out of their hair. Now as both girls had beautiful, long, blond hair this took about two hours a head. I felt at the end of the day like one of those gorillas grooming a member of their group on those nature shows.

I considered the matter closed, and was glad that I had defeated head lice from the heads of my children. Two weeks later, I got a note sent home with one of the girls informing me that head lice had been found in her head. So, off to the store I went for lice shampoo, little comb not necessary. I gathered up all their linens and washed them, re-encasing the pillows in the plastic/pillowcase combination. The stuffed animals and dolls were still in storage so that step was omitted but spraying Lysol through the house was not. Then I shampooed each girl and went once again through the process of what I now was dubbing "Acting like Gorillas in the mist".

Once again I considered the matter closed, as I knew, from reading the lice shampoo label that sometimes one might miss a nit, prompting a return of head lice. But a week later, another note. This time I took the girls to the doctor who prescribed a strong shampoo with the same regimen I was now familiar with. Before I left the doctor's office, he snagged a louse off of one of children's heads and placed it under a microscope for me to see what they really looked like. To my horror they looked like something from a bad monster movie. To think they were living in amongst the follicles of my children, procreating like mad.

So home I went to use the new expensive prescription shampoo and go through the nit-picking routine. Believe it or not they came back, this time I had to have the girls checked out at the health department to ensure I had "done the job right" before allowing them back into school. I had of course, and the girls by now were used to sleeping on plastic encased pillows and were no longer asking for their stuffies. They got a clean bill of health or had their heads declared lice free.

Once again things seemed great. We passed the two week period, in fact I think we went a whole four weeks before, yep you guessed it, those horny little bugs were back ready to make lots of babies in my babies' hair. This time my husband broke the news as I was just getting out of my car from a day at work. He just didn't understand why I sat down on the spot and burst into tears. I then declared that there was no way I was going through that entire process again, and refused to come inside the house for a good 5 minutes. Hubby decided that an old home remedy was in order and was guaranteed to rid the child of head lice forever. I don't know what home he consulted for the remedy, probably the home of one of his old drinking buddies, but what it consisted of was tobacco juice and kerosene! I am pretty sure it was much less then a safe home remedy but I can say that it killed any living lice. The downside was that it stank, terribly and the kerosene was nearly impossible to wash out of that poor child's hair. Furious as I was, there was no way I was going to allow my husband anywhere near a child with a home remedy like that ever again!

Is anyone surprised by now that the remedy was much less effective then advertised? By now I was myself begging anyone that would listen if they had anything that would work to rid my children of these things forever. I strongly suspect that my kids were not the only ones with this problem as the re-infestations would reoccur in longer stretches then what it would take for the two weeks that it took for eggs to hatch. I urged the girl's school to fumigate the building, make sure my daughter's coats and book-bags were not near other children's do anything to help prevent my daughter's from bringing them home again. The washing machine was tired from constantly washing linens, coats, pillows, etc, the girls were missing their "long lost" stuffed animals, I was developing a healthy tic in one eye, and dreamed often of rummaging through a head of hair chasing those horrid creatures.

Four months into what was looking to be a long-term war, I was at a health food store for something and happen to mention the dilemma. The clerk pointed to a small box and said that had good success. Willing to try anything that held even the hint of promise, especially if it didn't smell like my husband's concoction I gladly purchased this remedy. It essentially was a mixture of a few essential oils with Tee Tree and Lavender the main ingredients. To my great surprise and utter relief it not only worked, but it worked permanently. We had survived with most of our hair intact, the great head lice invasion of 1998. Yes, 1998 as we had endured the Christmas holidays of '97 in parasitic warfare

For months afterwards I had a relapse of the eye tic when another mother talked about their child having lice. Whenever a child scratched her head, I went into gorilla mode and did a quick inspection. Not long afterwards I went back to school to get my cosmetologist training, and when they asked for volunteers to go to the elementary schools to check kids for lice, I went and hid in the bathroom. To this day I have yet to see a single solitary lice anywhere near a member of my family. I just can't yet bring myself to even glance at the section of a store shelf that contains Lice removal products.

More about this author: Sylvie Galloway

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