Psst! I’m not generally a name dropper, but I’m in a club with Heidi Klum, Jennifer Garner, Ben Affleck, Courtney Cox, Madonna, Britney Spears, Kelly Ripa, Shakira, Rainn Wilson, and Adam Scott. We’re all members of the WHaLAS Club. It’s actually not as exclusive as it sounds. In fact, it’s not a club anyone would ever want to join. It’s the We Had Lice And Survived Club.
There are a lot, and I mean a LOT, of members who keep mum about it. You might even be one and I wouldn’t know it. Not because it’s a secret society or anything, but because many WHaLAS don’t like to talk about it, don’t want to remember it, are actually ashamed of it because of the social stigma associated with lice. Wow. Anytime I can say that Jen or Courtney and I are like “that” (picture me crossing my fingers to show best buds status), I will take it. Well, maybe not when it comes to having lice.
The difference between the millions of families that are affected by head lice infestations each year and WHaLAS like us is that we talk about how we survived lice. We all know, or should know, that lice aren’t the choosiest of parasites. They will crawl, since they can’t jump or fly, to any available, nearby head, regardless of gender, location, economic status. They do prefer clean hair (who doesn’t?) since it’s easier to get their eggs to stick on freshly shampooed strands, but other than that, they will climb on the head of any Johnny, Lourdes or Coco.
WHaLAS will tell you how they got “the call” from the school or camp nurse . . . and panicked. Or how they noticed their child, or all of their children, scratching their heads incessantly . . . and panicked. Yes, WHaLAS are human, which is why we are susceptible to head lice. It doesn’t matter if you live in a penthouse/castle/center hall colonial/bungalow, as long as you have kids/grandkids/know some kids who go to school/play dates/camp, there will more than likely be lice in your life at some point. Sorry, but there are as many as twelve million cases among school aged kids every year – the odds are against us. Unfortunately, having head lice isn’t necessarily a one-time thing; it is possible for a person to have lice on more than once (or three times!).
Okay, breathe. There are some things you can do to stack the deck in your favor, so your kids (and you) aren’t the most attractive head in the room for lice.
- Do a thorough head check of each child (and you, if you have a really good friend), just to be sure you are clear from the get go. Little known fact: Not everyone gets itchy from head lice; there are some people who aren’t allergic to the saliva (eww) that the lice leave behind after a meal, so it is possible to have lice and not have a clue.
- Use lice repellent daily. There are some shampoos, conditioners and leave-in tonics/sprays available that are very effective in warding off lice. Be sure to choose all-natural products, so you don’t need to worry about exposing your family to harmful toxins.
- Advise your children that they should avoid “head to head” contact or share personal items such as hats, hair accessories, brushes, combs or sports helmets with friends, classmates, or teammates. Other items not to share include dress-up clothes, costumes and even pillows at a sleepover.
- If your child has long hair, wearing hair up in braids or ponytails will reduce the risk of transmission.
- Continue to do regular head checks to make sure your kids remain clear headed.
By now, I suspect you’ve figured out there really isn’t a club for WHaLAS. But there could be. And we would all be in very good company. The more information we survivors of lice share, the better. Believe it or not, if you discover that someone in your family has lice, it’s best to actually suck it up and tell people rather than keeping it to yourself. (See the video of how Adam Scott dealt with telling a co-star about lice in a rather public way.) Make sure you call your child’s school or camp and let them know, if they don’t already know, since that is the most likely where your son or daughter got their lice.
The reason so many children get lice again is because, say, your child has lice (but doesn’t know it yet) and gives it to a close friend or classmate unknowingly, then after you go through hell and back treating your kid, he or she goes right back to school and gets it back from the friend. If everyone who gets and treats lice (including the seemingly endless nit picking and combing) is open about it, the likelihood of having to live through it again is significantly decreased. Plus, it would really stink to have your neighbor tell you she had to go pick her daughter up from school because the school nurse found lice, especially knowing that you found out your girls had it two weeks ago (just after the her daughter’s sleepover party). Not cool.
What’s better, keeping your family pest-free or maintaining that façade of perfection (and possibly having lice again)? The choice is yours, but we WHaLAS should do what we can to keep more people from joining the club. In the spirit of sharing, here is my "secret" (that I tell EVERYONE) on how I avoid renewing my membership: prevention, prevention, prevention. (I do weekly head checks and I spritz my kiddos with Jolis Cheveux Leave-In Hair Tonic every morning . . . so far, so good.)