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'Tis the Season
A recent trip to a friend's farm for a birthday party was idyllic and refreshing. When she called me a day later to break the news, I got one of my first scares as a parent: “one of the kids at the party has lice,” she said, “you might want to check your son.” Lice?! I had never thought about lice until now. As the news sunk in, my head started to itch. My kid sleeps in the same bed as I do, and uses the same pillows. When I put him down to sleep, we rest head-to-head. When I got home that day, I checked my kid's head. He'd been at day care – who knows how many other kids could have contracted the lice as well? I poked my fingers around in his hair and my gut sank. There were black specks everywhere. Really? It spread that fast? We were just at the farm two days before. This means that I had to have it also, and my husband. Can dogs get lice too? (The answer to that is no.) My head started to itch even more.
I did the research and realized that my son did not, in fact, have lice at all. The black specks were sand, from the playground. My itchy scalp was just paranoia. But what would I do in case of actual lice, or if some other kid at his day care had lice?
I found most of this information through a company called Ladibugs. They are a local company that produces lice prevention and elimination products. This is what I have learned: Lice don't have wings so they can't fly. They also don't jump from head to head. You can be preventative by making sure your kid isn't sharing combs or clothing with other kids, or in very close contact when you know there's been an outbreak. Lice will, however, multiply rapidly. They lay eggs called nits that are essentially glued to the hair shaft with an enzyme. Nits are found close to the scalp for warmth. If you're doing a lice check, you might see nits along the back of the scalp near the hairline or behind the ears. Nits must be scraped off the hair shaft using a very fine comb. They can't be “flicked” off because of that strong glue that adheres them to the hair shaft. Ladibugs makes a mousse that contains a natural yeast enzyme that will break down the glue that holds the nits to the hair shaft, excellent for lice elimination.
You could also go with just essential oils, using lavender, tea tree, and thyme oils as a preventative. Use five drops of lavender, three drops of tea tree, and one drop of thyme and work it into the hair. If you or your child get lice, use this blend as a base but then add a blend called “Good Samaritan” (sold here at the Eastside Co-op). Three to five drops, depending on the age and size of the kid. You might be able to get the lice with just the oils, but you'd still want to have a fine comb to rid the hair shaft of the nits. And as always you need to be very careful when using essential oils on children, especially small children. Listen to your instincts – if your kid (or you) tends to have sensitive skin you might need go a different route.
Lice die after about two days if they don't have a host. If you are worried about clothing and bedding being contaminated, put everything in the dryer on high heat for about 45 minutes. The heat will kill the lice. Tape off areas in your home that aren't used often for a couple of days. For even more information, tips, and tricks about how to rid your kid & home of lice, or prevent an outbreak, check out www.ladibugshaircare.com or give us a call here at the co-op and we can answer your questions as well.