I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
June 11, 2012
I wouldn’t be completely honest if I didn’t tell you that there’s one not-so-minor detail I left out when recounting the crazy, frenetic time immediately preceding our beach getaway.
It’s a detail so embarrassing that I haven’t shared it with anyone outside my immediate family. Even my mom. (Sorry, Mom. This is the kind of thing I couldn’t tell you over the phone. Better to just TELL THE WORLD and get it over with.)
I’ll start by saying that we were planning on leaving for the beach on a Saturday morning at 3am. Sounds crazy, but it works for us- The kids sleep for a good part of the trip and we arrive by late afternoon, with time to enjoy at least a small part of the day at our destination.
Anyway, on Friday morning, I noticed that one of my children (and I won’t say WHICH one – Bam! Privacy protection!) was scratching… its… head in a strange way. As I have mentioned in the past, there’s been a fairly severe lice outbreak in both of their schools, so I did what any mom would I do when I noticed the head scratching.
I FREAKED THE HELL OUT.
I tried looking through my child’s hair, but I was hyperventilating and shaking a little and even in bright sunlight, I couldn’t tell if what I was seeing was dandruff flakes or dirt or… (save me, Jesus) LICE EGGS. And this wasn’t the kind of thing I could just let go, particularly on the eve of an eight-day beach trip. So I took my kids to the clinic at our local supermarket for an expert opinion.
When I got there, the nurse was getting ready to go to lunch. I begged and pleaded for her to check my kid’s head and very reluctantly, she agreed. She began piecing through my child’s hair while I sat in the corner of the examining room, taking deep breaths and praying. Yes, praying. Because God has a VESTED INTEREST in lice outbreaks, yo.
Suddenly the nurse took a step away from my child. “It’s lice,” she said unceremoniously.
“It’s lice. It’s lice. It’s lice. It’s lice.” Those are the words that reverberated in my brain as the room spun around and around before me. I staggered up from my chair with my hands around my neck, gasping for air. “Not…. LICE,” I whispered, before passing out cold on the floor.
When I came to, the nurse was writing a prescription for some sort of bug-killing scalp medication. “This would be a good time to cut your child’s hair, too,” she told me through pursed lips. I looked at her in horror. Both my children love wearing their hair long (Punky eschews haircuts in homage to her favorite move, Tangled, and Bruiser calls his messy mop-top his “Bruiser Style.”) Neither one would take well to a hair cutting.
“Oh, I’m taking my child to that place where they get rid of lice for you,” I told the nurse. “So I won’t need the prescription. Or the hair cutting.” I guess I was expecting her to congratulate me or something. Instead, she gave me a dubious look. “Well, if that doesn’t work out, you’ll still need this,” she said, thrusting the prescription toward me.
“Okaaaay,” I said. “Thanks, I guess.”
I hustled the kids out to the car and called the lice place as fast as I could. At that point, it was 2:00. I’d had checked their information before I left for the clinic, and knew that they closed for the weekend at 5:00.
“Lice Solutions,” a woman answered on the other end of the line.
“MykidhaslicecanIbringmychildoverpleaseohpleasepleasesayyes!” I shouted into the phone. The woman paused.
“Oh Lordy,” she said. “I was just about to leave.”
“Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease,” I said into the phone.”Ohpleasepleasepleaseplease.”
“How soon can you get here?” she asked.
“We’re headed there now!” I said.
“Okay,” she sighed. “Come on over.” I did a victory fist pump and peeled out of the Kroger parking lot.
We drove across town and entered what looked like a hair salon- except that the people in the chairs weren’t getting their hair cut– they were having lice removed. Quickly, I plopped my kid in the chair and the delousing commenced. I sat and watched in quiet awe. It’s hard to believe that there are professional nitpickers out there, women who will painstakingly go through your hair strand by strand, and get every single egg and bug out.
And this part of the story is why I’m telling you this highly embarrassing news, which will probably cost me more than one playdate… The sad fact of the matter is that moms just don’t talk about lice. Ever. So if you’re like me, you find yourself facing an outbreak completely unprepared, armed only with a few rumors and half-truths that you’ve overheard at the playground. Spending two-and-a-half hours at Ye Olde Lice Shoppe taught me more about lice than I ever wanted to know — and I figured I’d do all you moms you the service of letting you know, too.
I’ll start with the big news. THANK GOD FOR LICE SOLUTIONS. This was the one thing I DID know to do when I found out that one of my kids had lice. I had heard from more than one person that starting with Lice Solutions, while expensive, (expect to spend between $200 and $300, depending on the length of your kid’s hair) was worth every penny. They guarantee that they will get rid of the lice, generally in just one visit, and I know now from seeing what they do that I could NEVER have gotten rid of the lice on my own.
Why’s that, you ask? Well, as the woman worked on my child’s head, she showed me on a Kleenex some of the eggs she was finding. They looked like teeny, tiny specks of dust. She also showed me a baby louse. It looked like a microscopic fleck of dirt. In order to get rid of lice, you have to get every single one of those specks of dust and flecks of dirt out of your kid’s hair. Miss one and you start the process allll over again. Every parent I talked to at Lice Solutions was there because they had already spent weeks using the prescription lice medication and the lice KEPT COMING BACK.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t handle that. I’ve got enough going on already.
Another thing I loved about Lice Solutions (and this is not a paid endorsement- there are other places that do this too. Hopefully there’s one in your town.) is that they only use non-toxic, all-natural lice sprays and shampoos. The information that the nurse gave me at the clinic said that the prescription shampoo should be used only as directed and only for two applications BECA– USE IT IS A PESTICIDE. Children under two aren’t even allowed to use it at all. I do not want to put pesticide on my children’s heads, thankyouverymuch.
Anyway, at the end of two hours, my kid was lice and nit-free and I was given instructions to comb through [its] hair with a nit comb for a couple of minutes each night and return to Lice Solutions the day after we got back from the beach for a recheck.
“Wash [its] sheets tonight and soak your hairbrushes in hot water for ten minutes,” the woman told me.
“What about vacuuming and lice sprays and putting stuffed animals in bags for two weeks and throwing out hair brushes and all that stuff?” I asked.
“Completely unnecessary,” she said. “Lice can’t live for more than 24 hours off of someone’s head, so you can wash sheets and soak hairbrushes in hot water for ten minutes, or just don’t use them for 24 hours and you’re good. Since you’re going to the beach tonight, you don’t really need to do anything except wash your child’s sheets and make sure [it] uses a fresh towel and pajamas.”
I was also given a nit comb and told that it was very important for me to comb through my child’s head for 2-4 minutes each night at the beach. And that. Was. It.
I don’t know about you, but this was SO MUCH EASIER than I had expected it to be.
At least until we got to the beach.
The first few nights were okay. I dutifully combed through my child’s hair every evening. And every morning, for that matter. I was supposed to just run through it with the nit comb, but I couldn’t help myself- I carefully examined [its] scalp each time, looking for any evidence of bug mayhem. By the third night, I I noticed some little white flecks in my child’s hair. Horrified, I picked them out with my fingernails, but it seemed like the more I picked out, the more there were. Our two-minute combing sessions began taking thirty minutes. I also started washing all of our pillowcases each night, just in case.
And then my own scalp started itching. Uncontrollably.
“What if I have lice?” I whimpered to Dennis, inspecting my hairline as I got ready to go to the beach one morning. “I can’t stop thinking about it.”
“Well, you know what to look for, right?” he asked..
“I mean, I think I do,” I said. “But I just can’t be sure.”
Beach hair, you see, makes life difficult for the lice-obsessed. Was that salt and sand in my hair? OR WAS IT THE DISGUSTING RESULTS OF A LICE ORGY? I scrubbed my hair in the shower every day and at night, I tossed and turned and dreamed my scalp was crawling with tiny bugs.
By the time we headed back to Nashville the following Sunday, I was scratching my head obsessively, dead certain I had lice — and I couldn’t wait for my kid’s Monday morning recheck, so that I could get rid of it. We arrived early for our appointment.
“They came back,” I announced as I entered Lice Solutions. The nitpicker frowned at me. “Really?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said. “You didn’t get them all.” The silence was deafening. It was as if I’d told her she wasn’t a real mom because she didn’t breastfeed.
“Er, maybe you did,” I said quickly. “I can’t tell. I’m going crazy. I can’t stop thinking about lice!”
The nitpicker smiled, mollified. She had seen my kind before. “Lice can be traumatic,” she said soothingly. “Let’s just check little [xxxxx]’s head and see what’s going on.”
Carefully, she combed through my child’s hair, strand by strand. I held my breath, prepared to hear the awful news yet again.
“I don’t see anything,” she announced ten minutes later. “Not one egg. Nothing.”
Yes, friends. I had been spending an hour a day throughout my beach vacation picking DANDRUFF AND SAND out of my child’s hair.
Clearly, I RULE.
“Um, could you please check my head again, too?” I asked pleadingly. “And my other kid’s? Maybe then I can sleep again.”
“Of course,” she said. Five minutes later, the diagnosis was in: We were officially a lice-free family.
But I’m keeping Lice Solutions on speed dial from now on, just in case.
Is your head itching now?
Image via zzzack/Flickr
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yes, i am now itchy. thank you very much 😉 Boy girl, you can keep SECRETS!!
Well, it’s not the sort of thing you just put out there for no reason…. unless you have a blog! 🙂
I figured I’d take one for the team on this one, since I wish someone had told me all this stuff BEFORE I had to deal with it!
Of course my head starts itching!
I’m so grateful that in 17 years of schooling my son never had Lice (commence knocking on wood) – I think I would just freak out.
Lice Solutions – I’ve never head of such a thing. Usually in our school you can tell which kids had lice (especially boys) because they come back to school with a fresh haircut. And other kids in the cafeteria would all tell me anyway.
I’m glad you’re Lice Free!
One thing they told me was that cutting hair is completely unnecessary, particularly since all the activity is at the base of your child’s scalp. I was grateful to know that! I had never dealt with lice in any way until now, but I had gotten the ” student in your child’s class has lice” letter sent home about five times this year, so I knew it was a definite possibility, particularly since both my kids are huggers! *shudder*
I never knew that they had lice salons. I’m sure my mom would have loved that. We got lice a few times as kids, and once we were old enough I remember spending many afternoons with my friends taking turns picking through each other’s hair. Thankfully I haven’t had to deal with this is my own kids yet. Keeping my fingers crossed.
That is a hilarious visual!
I grew up in SoCal, and there were plenty of occasions where my mom confiscated my dress-up clothes to wash them in hot water because another mom had made the dreaded “my kid who was just at your house yesterday has lice” phone call…
I realized after reading about lice, too, that we all as parents have a MUCH greater chance of encountering them now than we did when we were little. When I was a kid, schools had a ‘no nit’ policy- You couldn’t come back to class until a nurse checked your head and every last egg was gone. Now, though, the standards have been revised because lice don’t cause any real health problems- They’re just annoying. So kids can come back to school after just one home treatment, and generally, a parent can’t get them all in one try…
I am pinning this article and saving it! Ew. Lice. I hope I never need to call on this post again! Yeek!
What a great business! They never had anything like that when my kids were little. I remember pouring some red stuff on their heads – Rid, maybe? is that the pesticide? Oops – well, that’s all we knew.
Reminds me of how friends of mine said that back in their youth they would run down the street behind the mosquito-spraying truck, playing in the pesticide spray! But that was in the early 60s.
How times have changed!!!
Oh yuck about the mosquito spray! That’s unbelievable!
Great, now I have Ghost Lice.
Yeah, sorry. They go away after about a week…
I actually had a similar incident a few years back with my little girl. I became a ‘nit picker’ on that night. After about a week she was lice free. I never want to go through that again!
I’m still not sure I could spot one. All I know is that they stick to
the nit comb, and now we’ve got one. The woman who worked on my child’s
head told me we could have easily gone TWO MORE WEEKS without knowing
about the lice. EWWW!
Wow thats alot of money. When my daughter had lice last year I got rid of them over a weekend using coconut oil, rosemary, and a electronic nit comb. I treated bith my girls. I wouldnt have had the money for a service even if one was here. Maybe i should open one. You were lucky not to have to deal with it yourself.
You should open one! You’d make a killing!
Oh my gosh! We had a similar experience at Christmas. Our school had multiple lice outbreaks this fall and I became CONVINCED my daughter had them. She has this amazing thick long hair and everyone kept saying to me…you better hope she doesn’t get them. On Dec. 2 I placed that same frantic phone call to Lice Solutions and we rushed right over. Thankfully we were lice free -but the ladies there were so nice to us!
They’re SO nice. And by the way, I hear Williamson County schools are having a lice outbreak now. Mwah ha ha ha haaaa! 😉
Your Worst Nightmare is a community-created headwear item for the Sniper. It is a sloppy looking hairdo, similar to a mullet, tied back by a team-colored knotted …
Now here is something you may not have heard. When our family had lice last summer (everyone but the baby and my husband), the lady at our local health clinic explained this to me: “The person with lice may continue to feel itching on the scalp even AFTER all the adult lice have been eliminated (by the strong poisonous gel stuff). The reason is that lice bites are very much like mosquito bites: the bugs’ saliva under the skin continues to cause that itchy feeling for several days even after the original bite(s).” Made me feel just a little better to know that. Another thing — Whenever you check for nits, make your child stand under the brightest light possible — preferably right next to the window, so you can get a really good close look at the nits. That’s the way you can learn how to tell the difference between nits and skin flakes. Notice the way you have to use your fingernails to pull the nits off the hair shaft (they’re kinda glued on there, unlike dandruff). Good luck, hope they’re all gone quickly!!
Good advice! Thanks.
My daughter has very thick, long hair and had lice last fall. LOTS of lice. I spent 8 hours that day picking through her hair, 2 hours the next and combing it for a long time several days after. But she was lice free. Unfortunately, I wasn’t, and since I can’t pick through my own hair, I ended up having a service come from an hour away to help me. I keep trying to convince myself I should open such a service locally. And I can see the reasoning behind cutting the hair — the 8 hours of nitpicking would have been shorter if her hair was shorter. I had to pull the nits from her scalp to the end of the strand of hair in order to get them off. Thank goodness she has dark hair so they were easier to see.
Oh! By the way! The “nitpickers” told me that once the egg is unbonded from the hair follicle, it can’t hatch- so as long as you loosen it from where it’s bonded near the scalp, even if you don’t get it entirely out of your child’s hair, it’s fine. And it doesn’t matter where you put the eggs after you get them out. They’re unhatchable. I thought that was really helpful (though gross!) information.
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After several bouts one year we discovered Sklice, a prescription product that works perfectly. We also pulled our girls off of the schoolbusses, which is kind of a pain, but they haven’t gotten lice again though they have been going around.