by Amanda Parry
The number of states battling outbreaks of “super lice” (strains resistant to the insecticides in over-the-counter treatments) has grown to 25, according to scientists with the American Chemical Society. This means more and more parents will be battling mutant vermin for control of their children’s heads — and their own sanity — in the coming months.
If you’re not already suitably terrified, let me help you out. Recently my 5-year-old daughter became infested with super lice and generously passed them along to me. It took us two months to get rid of the little bastards, and to say the experience was a nightmare would be an understatement. And I sat through the movie “Ishtar.”
Here are six reasons why you should be stocking up on wine and soiling yourself at the thought of your kids bringing them home:
• 1. Like glitter and drunk party guests, they are nearly impossible to get rid of.
You will try anything and everything to get rid of them, but, like the bad guys in the movies, they always come back. That’s because they are impervious to most methods of extermination and reproduce constantly. By masturbation. (Okay, I made the second part up, but that’s how it seems.)
• 2. All methods to get rid of them are equally distasteful.
Your choices include putting insecticides that probably won’t work on your child’s head (gulp) and/or massaging essential oils into his/her scalp. Apparently, lice don’t like the smell of tea tree oil mixed with rosemary and peppermint oils, which is frankly not surprising since the result is a scent I call “Satan’s Butt Crack.”
Another option is to coat your child’s hair with cheap conditioner and rake through it with a nit comb to get all the bugs and their potential offspring out. Raise your hand if your child enjoys getting his/her hair washed, let alone combed for an hour every day.
If you did raise your hand, use it to hit yourself because you are LYING. The method that finally worked for us involved 16 ounces of Cetaphil and a hair dryer. My daughter lives in fear of appliances that make noise, so you can imagine how much fun that was.
• 3. Despite what you may have heard, your child can pass them along to you.
Can’t get lice after puberty? Lice don’t like curly hair? Hair washing prevents the spread of lice?
Anything you’ve heard along those lines is a myth. As someone who is extremely post-pubescent and has lots of curly hair, let me be the first to tell you they will come for you. And guess what: they prefer clean hair.
It’s a short crawl from your child’s head to yours during a cuddle, and the more adventurous bugs on your child’s head will gladly make that trip. As a consequence, you will wake up feeling something crawling on your head and find bite marks on your neck and ears.
Which brings us to:
• 4. It’s beyond disgusting …
There are bugs crawling through your child’s (and possibly your) hair. You will sometimes see them moving. When you comb them out, they will attempt to crawl away. ACROSS YOUR KITCHEN TABLE.
• 5. … and kind of embarrassing.
There’s nothing like having body parasites to make you feel like an unwashed social pariah. It’s just so century-before-last, as in, surely we curtailed this problem when people began bathing regularly and women got the vote. It’s like having a condition only a character in a Dickens novel would have, like scurvy or fatal syphilis.
• 6. Once they are gone, you will spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder. Literally.
Every time your child scratches his/her head or you detect your own follicular tickle, you will become convinced that the nightmare is starting. All. Over. Again.
If you are unfortunate enough to become infested, I recommend something called the “Nuvo Method.” It ain’t fun but it was the only thing that worked for us.
Amanda Parry, 39, grew up in Chestnut Hill and attended Germantown Friends School from kindergarten through 12th grade. Amanda is the mother of two special needs children: a 7-year-old son with autism and a 5-year-old daughter who has developmental delays due to an ongoing battle with cancer. Amanda started the blog UnexceptionalParenting.com to let off steam.