Sunday, August 16, 2009

Are lice lousy?

Let's talk about lice. What are the common preconceptions about the little buggers. And let's demystify or elucidate them at the same time:

1. Dirty little children from poor and unkempt houses get them and spread them.

Wrong. Truth is, lice don't really like dirty hair as much as clean hair. A bit harder for them to get to the scalp where their nourishment is. They don't eat the dirt or grease in the hair. They also need the warmth and humidity of the head.

2. If you find out your kid has them, they must have gotten them from their last playdate.

It's hard to know when your child got them. Ways not to catch them include:
Being near someone with lice. Lice don't jump.
Swimming with someone with lice. Lice don't swim. They can withstand getting wet, but they won't swim over to your child.

The truth is, there has to be head to head contact for the lice to get onto your child. Using a towel that that lousy little kid used first could do it. Or, sharing a hairbrush, or hat could do it. And, it can take awhile (could be days, could be as much as a week or two) for your child to start scratching their head (the TELLTALE) sign that they might have them.


3. Kids have to be nit free to be safe to be in contact with other humanoids.

I know schools have adopted a nit free policy, but like all things bureaucratic, (man that word is hard to spell), they over-react. Nits are usually dead, dead, dead after having been washed with the special shampoo that kills the bugs. Some microscopic babies may have escaped death, but with the proper treatment and combing, it's all taken care of.

There really is no reason for anyone to freak out about lice. I liken it to my daughter coming home with cuts on her knees or paint all over her t-shirt. She had a good time, and she threw caution to the wind and got into it. I understand why some people get all atwitter, as they are annoying to deal with (especially if you child has thick or very curly hair), but they also seem an unavoidable part of childhood. And there is the nuisance factor of having to wash sheets, clothes, brushes etc in hot water. But really, come on. Why would that be any worse than a kid who plays in the mud frequently? Life's messy, clean it up.

And, it's not like everyone has the situation I had last weekend where we discovered an infestation at 8:30 am, (after an alerting call from a friend who also had them), did the shampooing, combing, denitting, using a washing machine that was known to be broken, ie, leaking, cleaning and reconstructing the bedroom, putting the various pillows in a plastic garbage bag just to be safe, soaking combs we used to delouse in 140 degree water, reconstruct the bedroom, and then hosting a bunch of the "lousy" kids friends by noon. And having to explain the situation to each of those kids' Moms with patience, and wondering if they'd panic and withdraw their child from the party. That's what's worse. When the other parents make a bigger deal about it then it needs to be.

As with so many things in life, if you really think about it, Knowledge is Power, and the Truth Will set you free. Or that other truism, there's no accounting for prejudice.

Shit, my head itches.

Good bye Good people.

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