Posted by Claudia Grazioso on October 3, 2011
School has been in session for a few weeks, and I just got The Note. The Note that is so horrific, so stomach turning, so creepy that I block out of my mind that it always happens at Back To School Time. It’s the Head Lice Note. It’s been reported that a student at my children’s school has head lice and all parents should check and be vigilant and please be advised that if your child does have lice they need to complete their treatment before they can come back….
Lice. Ugh. Forget how organic-produce-buying, all-natural-product-loving I may be, I sometimes think that if one of my kids gets lice, I wouldn’t mind seeing a mushroom cloud coming off their head as long as I knew that all of those itchy little bugs were decimated. Still, after I read The Note (and once I got through with my psychosomatic itchiness and managed to shake the feeling that little microscopic aliens were running on my scalp), I started to think about what I would do if (when) one of my kids does get lice. What’s in commonly-used lice treatments? More to the point, can something that kills an entire colony of bugs with one application be a good thing to rub into your child’s head?
Pyrethrin (the active ingredient in Rid) and permethrin (in products like Nix) seem to be the two most commonly used over-the-counter anti-lousing options, and although they are both toxic pesticides, most doctors seem to feel that they are safe for use in anti-lice shampoos. The big baddie to avoid, though, is a chemical called Lindane, which is usually in prescription lice medicines. Even the FDA issued an advisory about Lindane, calling for additional warning labels. This isn’t surprising, considering Lindane is a neurotoxin that can cause seizures, neurological damage and cancer, as well as disrupting the endocrine system. California actually banned Lindane from shampoos and lice treatments, because children are far more susceptible to the risks of toxic substances. Children, pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid using it.
So what course of action will I take on the inevitable day when it is my child who has brought a scourge down upon the whole school?Some people swear by soaking your child’s head with coconut oil, and then slowly working through their hair with a nit comb. Others point out that the heat from a blow dryer can kill eggs effectively. I really don’t know what I’ll do when it happens. Maybe the whole family will start a Bald Is Beautiful trend. Whichever path you take in lice treatment, just remember: Patience, fortitude… and maybe a shot of tequila. For you, not your child.