Tales from the Crib: Lice Lice Baby

We managed to make it 6 years into the parenting journey lice-free — until our daughters hit their school-age years.
Published August 21

School has been back in session for less than two weeks, and I am already seeing posts in our local mom groups about kiddos with lice. Please momma bears, do yourself a favor and be proactive. Check those precious heads once a week and use a preventive shampoo. It will save you money and your sanity. Trust me, I know!

Last year, our family was taken down by a nasty mob of head lice. We managed to make it 6 years into our parenting journey lice-free until our daughters made it into their school-age years.

It started when my hubby overheard a few moms discussing lice at our little ones’ preschool. At first we weren’t too alarmed, because it was in another classroom, and Addy shouldn’t be affected by it. Or, so we thought. I hadn’t seen any signs of bugs, scratching, or discomfort, so I thought we were in the clear. I periodically checked her scalp, and nothing. Then one morning those buggers seemed to appear out of nowhere. I remember the discovery as if it was yesterday.

You know there is never a good time for head lice but why do these traumatic events always have to happen on the busiest of days? The morning was going smoothly, I woke up early, we were running on time and everyone was cooperating. I should have known right there I was doomed. I heard my husband yelling for me as he brushed Addy’s hair and he spotted three brown things, moving! My poor baby’s scalp was scabbed and bleeding as I watched in horror. Live bugs, crawling. Barf!

Off to the pediatrician we went for an official diagnosis and treatment. Sadly, we were just there the week before, as the entire family was diagnosed with bronchitis. With school-aged children we are frequent flyers at that office, so I suggested they start a rewards program.

I LOVE our pediatrician, but if I must see her face more than twice in a week, I want a coupon. It could be as simple as ‘see us twice in a week, get your third appointment free.’ Maybe a $5 Starbucks gift card? Better yet, they could have a moms’ lounge where we could go to recharge during appointments. I mean, help a sister out! Parenting is stressful enough when the kids are healthy and bug free.

Our pediatrician performed the lice check and began to give me detailed instructions on how to fix this. Whoa, have you met me? I am no do-it-your-selfer. I am calling a pro; I don’t have time for guessing games. I’m like Eminem and I’ve got one shot to get this right. As I pulled out of the parking lot I phoned my new friend, The Lice Queen. Thank the Lord for her. Back in the ‘80s, my poor mom had to put me out in the driveway with a comb and a magnifying glass.

She answered the phone immediately and was at my house within the hour. I got smart and pulled my older child out of school early and my husband came home as well. Suddenly, I was channeling Oprah — you get a lice check, you get a lice check, lice checks for everyone in the audience! We were all positive for lice except my husband. His daily man glaze spared him from the infestation.

I held my little one still for over two hours as The Lice Queen painstakingly combed through every strand of her hair. She was amazing, I could never do what she did. My kids do not listen or follow my directions. If I was home alone to battle the lice, we would all still be sitting in the kitchen combing each other’s hair out right now. She got rid of the lice and now, the aftercare was up to me.

I cannot stress to you how important it is to delouse your home. Wash all the sheets, clothes, jammies, stuffed animals, etc. every night for a few weeks. You must continue to check their hair nightly until no more eggs are found. I admit, I was overwhelmed with this process — because it is a lot. Who has time to vacuum your house every single day? So I may have slacked off a little after a few nights of clean head checks and those hitchhikers returned. We had three rounds of lice in two months before they were finally eliminated. It is up to us to teach our kids to not share hair ties, brushes, hats and jackets. Even a simple hug can put you at risk.

Now I pull back the girl’s hair with mousse or gel and finish with the Fairy Tales conditioning spray. Lice can be easily spread and they multiply quickly, so education and prevention is key. Otherwise you will end up with a few hundred unwanted guests.

Lynn Cristina is a Wesley Chapel momma with two girls and works full time as a marketing manager. The girls’ names are changed here so as not to embarrass their momma. She and her family love living in Wesley Chapel. Contact her at LCristina@tampabay.com.