Be Prepared to Itch; Let's Talk Head Lice


Every time I hear about head lice, I start to feel a little itchy.

Even just brainstorming for this blog post and asking parents for input has me scratching.

It’s funny how that works isn’t it?

With school back in full swing, I’ve seen multiple posts on social media (and have been feeling very squeamish lately) about outbreaks in classrooms as well as parents looking for tips to keep the critters away.

Recently Vancouver Island Health put forward recommendations to educators and daycare providers to avoid singling out children with lice and sending them home.

This means there are no longer lice checks at schools and educators and daycare providers aren’t advised to check their children’s hair. 

From my understanding, what brought this on was VIHA wanting to protect children's privacy, and to avoid shaming as well as exclusion from school and missing out on education.  

As much as I get that and the embarrassment that comes along with lice and being sent home, I think as a result we’re seeing more lice outbreaks.

The recommendations are leaving the responsibility up to parents and caregivers to check and treat their children and unfortunately not every parent will be on top of that.

Sadly, some will just toss out the VIHA-provided lice education/info handout that’s sent home in their child’s backpack.

The children will continue to come to school with lice and pass it along to their reading buddy, for example, and so on. 

I can sympathize slightly with the exclusion part of their policies. 

As an elementary student I was sent home almost every time our school held a lice check because the volunteers checking mistook my dry scalp and dandruff for nits. I never had nits or lice, but I was always sent home.

I still have a vague memory of missing a really fun field trip because I was sent home and even receiving an, “I’m sorry!” card from my teacher after the issue was addressed. 

As much as that sucked, and even knowing that my son has inherited the same dry scalp as me, I would still rather there be checks at school (and even some mistakes identifying lice) than multiple outbreaks.

Last year, a Duncan daycare provider took it upon herself to create a petition against the changes. 

Heather Michalski told the press the guidelines were unfair and put caregivers such as herself in an awkward position if they do not want head lice to spread in their facilities.

The guidelines are still in place, however and as much as it seems most parents I’ve talked to would like to see them reversed, it doesn’t appear to be heading in that direction.

Like anything in the parenting world, you have to deal with the cards you’ve been dealt.

So with that said, it appears tea tree oils and shampoos are a hot ticket item this fall. 

Tea tree is supposed to be an excellent deterrent and parents are being extremely proactive with it.

In our household, I’ve added a couple drops to a water spray bottle I use to style my kid’s hair in the morning.

We also use Jason’s Tea Tree shampoo anyways, because, as I already mentioned both Jack and I have dry scalp.

There are other tricks and tips as well.

Posting about it on my personal Facebook page resulted in many comments of ways to be on top of it as well as tips on what to do if children get lice.

Most prevention measures included tea tree oil.

It was also noted loading up on gel or other hair products and also using dry shampoo, help keep lice from climbing aboard.

Apparently, lice only dig clean hair, so not washing your child’s hair every day helps as well.

Lathering and leaving on conditioner is also apparently a great way of smothering and getting rid of them.

Meanwhile, some parents told me they like to stick to good ol’ fashioned chemicals to rid of the bugs.  

VIHA recommends wet-combing and there are parents who swear by Roby combs to catch the little buggers.

As much as the topic and thought of bugs in your child’s hair or yours is enough to make you squirm (I'm itching right now!), head lice happens and is treatable.

There is no need to panic. 

If most parents continue to be proactive and educated, hopefully we can say good riddance to outbreaks of the creepy crawlers. 

Ashley Degraaf