HeadLice.Org Hot Spots

Of all the lousy bad luck...

Nov. 14, 2003

I get a very hesitant phone call. "You should check your kids' heads for lice. They've been exposed."

The kids had all been nestled with their friend in front of the computer. Head to head.

I check. All three heads are louse-free. But I start scratching. The power of suggestion is an awesome thing.

I've got thick unruly curls. They are not conducive to louse-hunting. It takes three long, itchy days to persuade my husband to check my hair. To convince him that just maybe I'm not being ridiculous and that the itch from the suggestion of lice would have worn off by now.

He goes in. "Hmm. Yup that looks like a bug." He's totally unconcerned about it. I react as if I'd just been diagnosed with the plague. He scowls at me. "It's a nuisance. That's all."

My itch increases exponentially at the confirmation of bugs. I envision shaving my head and living in quarantine until the infestation is gone. I know it's just hair. It's just bugs. But ... gross. I have bugs in my hair. How disgusting.

You feel dirty when there are bugs crawling, living and breeding on you. Knowing that head lice aren't caused by lack of hygiene does not help.

I don't use pesticides on my lawn and I'm not about to use them on my head. I send my husband to the drugstore for an herbal head-lice shampoo, a safe natural treatment that kills lice on contact. Use every other day for 7 to 10 days to avoid re-infestation. Voila. You are lice-free.

I use the shampoo three times in two days. He rechecks my hair. "There's just a couple in here."

Just a couple? Having just a couple of bugs is okay? I frantically douse my head again. Then wash all the towels and bedding for the third time in three days.

I avoid people. I have to tell those who I've come in contact with about it. It's embarrassing but necessary. My neighbor and I had looked over his résumé on my laptop during the week. He just laughs when I tell him. He would. He's almost bald.

But I take heart. Maybe telling people won't be so bad. My daughter sneaks into her friend's house. I stand in their doorway and tell them of my plight. They take a large step backward. It's instinctive. They try to downplay it. But they've done it. I take my daughter home.

Even my son hangs back when I try to hug him goodnight. "Do you still have those things in your hair, Mom?"

I can't handle it. The itch. The embarrassment. The fear that I'm going to share my lice with others. It's time to do more than "gently deal with the little mites." Give me toxins.

I go back to the pharmacy. "You've been using the herbal shampoo for more than three days and you're still finding eggs? It's time to step up the fight."

I couldn't agree more.

"You are using the nit comb aren't you? It's essential. The shampoo kills the bugs but is not effective on the eggs. You have to go through her hair with the comb."

He assumes the lice are in my 4-year-old's hair.

"It's not her hair, it's mine," I reluctantly mumble.

"Oh." He's speechless. Mothers aren't supposed to get lice. Just kids. And me.

The warning on the bottle says: "Treatment may make your scalp itchy." I love it when the treatment creates the same effect as the problem.

It takes my husband a painful hour to go through my bushy hair with the nit comb.

The first time, we're not even speaking to each other. He's mad at me for making a big deal of our new pets, not trusting the first treatment and not assuming that the itch is just a reaction to the shampoo. I'm mad at him for not checking my head sooner, and not understanding why I feel like a leper — one who has done way too much laundry.

I offer to get the shears so he can shave my head and save us both from the hassle of nitpicking. Fortunately, he's more patient and reasonable than I am. With the comb in one hand and the scissors in the other to cut out the tats that just won't co-operate, he goes through my hair strand by strand. I have to sit and trust that he doesn't miss any. It's not easy.

It's Day 7: Tonight's comb-through will determine whether I shave my head, or celebrate — in a crowd.

Writer and editor Evangeline Moffat is a mother of three who lives — lice-free — in Brampton.

Legal Notice:- Copyright 1996-2003. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. All rights reserved.


-- send this page to a friend --

The National Pediculosis Association,® Inc.
A Non-Profit Organization
Serving The Public Since 1983.

The National Pediculosis Association is a non-profit, tax exempt
organization that receives no government or agency funding.
Contributions are tax-deductible under the 501c(3) status.

© 1997-2009 The National Pediculosis Association®, Inc. All images © 1997-2009 The National Pediculosis Association®, Inc.