Friday, April 6, 2018

When Your Kid's Friends Give You Head Lice

Eeek! Yes, you read the last two words in the title right.

Since Naomi goes to school, she getting viruses like influenza and cough on monthly basis has become a normal routine for me. I really hate it when she falls sick (and technically brings home an array of viruses for her brother too) but really, no matter how good I shield her with multivitamins or sanitize her hands the moment she gets to the car when I pick her up from school, sometimes the above can't be helped.

But head lice? In 2018...? You gotta be kidding me, right?

Unfortunately, not.

Head lice are not extinct yet.

HOW I FOUND OUT

I discovered that my kids were infected with head lice about two weeks prior to CNY this year. One Thursday evening, we were heading to MIL's house for dinner and on the way to her house, B was napping in the car. I just happened to repeatedly stroke his soft hair when he was napping in my arms that evening.

Cutiepie in February.

When I was stroking his fringe, I spotted something unusual on my toddler's hair. My first thoughts were, "Hey, why is his hair so dusty? What are this white debris? Are they some tiny debris the from the white IKEA furniture we bought yesterday? I remember he was busy hovering around his Dad when his Dad was fixing a new IKEA cabinet." I tried to clean the white stuff on his hair but they were so difficult to get rid of. They were glued to his hair strands so well and simply hard to remove with one finger.

After a minute or two, I realized that this white stuff were not just some furniture dust nor debris. My heart literally dropped to the car's floor when it dawn upon me that these white stuff looked somewhat familiar. All the white stuff on B's head suddenly scared the sh*t out of me.

They were head lice nits, for Christ's sake.

My heart broke as I learnt that my innocent baby's head had been infested by annoying parasitic tiny insects. He's so young to experience this. How unfair.

HOW DID I KNOW THEY WERE "THEM"?

Erm... 25 years ago when I was in primary school, head lice infestation was quite a common thing among us kids. I got infested once or twice from a school mate with a long hair who sat in front of me. Her hair was terribly infested by head lice and our class teacher had to write a personal letter to her parents about it. The next day after her parents received the teacher's report, my class mate's long hair was chopped short. Also, my Mom is a hairdresser and those days, she occasionally got issues with hair lice too when she happened to handle customers carrying the parasites.

Problem is our childhood encounters with hair lice happened in early 1990s and I just cannot fathom that I still have to deal with hair lice in 2018. Well, the fact that there are still hair lice in the year of robot shocks me in general.

MORE DISCOVERIES

When I shared my initial worry or rather, suspicion, that B had head lice to MIL and my husband, all eyes suddenly turned to Naomi's thick hair. It was as if everyone agreed to one thing "Naomi must be the source. Why? Because she goes to school. She must have gotten it first from her friends and spread the lice to B!". I quickly scanned and ran through Naomi's hair strands with my fingers. Mind you, all the accusations to her were validated. She had worse nits' problems than B. Shortly, MIL looked at me and said, "High chance you have hair lice too".

Still looking cute with her helmet hairstyle.

Come to think of what MIL told to me that night, I suddenly recalled how I had been so sleepless for the past 2 weeks in early February because my head, back of my neck and ears were incredibly itchy at night. I used my husband's anti-dandruff shampoo with menthol, hoping to get some relief for the itchiness on my scalp when washing my hair; however, it didn't actually work. I thought I had an allergy reaction or something as my head and neck were super itchy for more than a week so I even consumed allergy syrup for food poisoning, hives and insect bites for 2 days before discovering the hair lice nits on my children's heads.

Moving on, the moment we finished dinner at MIL's place, I asked my husband to rush to the nearest pharmacy to start my embarrassing shopping frenzy, buying anti-lice shampoo that are safe for children (I was embarrassed to ask the pharmacist whether they sold any anti-lice shampoo to be honest). The price of one small 40ml bottle was around RM 18, so if you are using the shampoo daily for your whole family; the total bills to clear all the head lice in your head, which would take weeks, can be quite costly I'm afraid.

The herbal anti-lice shampoo from pharmacy, safe for kids' use.

(BTW, in the end my kids and I were infested with the head lice but my husband was not. I guess that's because the kids share the king sized bed with me while my husband sleeps on the other bed next to ours).

That weekend, we brought the kids to get a hair cut and from then on, my new day and night 'leisure" activities for the coming weeks were religiously shampooing my kids' hair and my own head with the herbal anti-lice shampoo every day (as per written in the shampoo's description in the box) and manually removing lice nits on our heads using the Terminator aka the lice comb. LOL. I began washing our bed sheets, blankets and towels more often than usual as well.

Fated to see and use you again.

Oh yes, that night after I found out about the head lice infestation, I immediately informed Naomi's head master of her latest condition and our strong suspicion that she might have gotten the hair lice from her school mates. Upon getting my updates, her head master sounded very surprised initially but after few rounds of questioning in polite and casual manner, her head master finally admitted that late last year some of her students' heads were infested with hair lice too. No wonder after the annual concert was held; I noticed Naomi's BFF who had a waist length hair suddenly sported a bob hair! Apparently, she was severely infested with hair lice too... and we only found out about this issue on Naomi's hair pretty late just because I never thought in a million years that we could still be infected with hair lice in today's everything Cloud, drone and AI era.

Fortunately, Naomi's head master is a sensible individual and after she learnt about another hair lice case happening in her premise, she did few rounds of check on all of her students on the following week just to make sure no other student was infected with hair lice.

THE TREATMENTS

After about a month (that felt like forever) of using the herbal anti-lice shampoos from the pharmacy, it seemed like I still could not get rid of the lice's nits completely. I was at my wits' end doing the manual removal of the nits on Naomi's hair strands on daily basis because every time I checked her hair, I still found few nits on her hair and she was not cooperative when I was clearing nits from her hair. Ok lah, I must say that it can be quite painful for her when I pulled one or two strands of her hair to remove the nits because nits are so persistently glued to the hair strands and you need to use extra strength to remove them.

One Saturday when the kids were due for their influenza injections, my husband and I decided to tell their pediatrician about the lice infestation problems that we're facing for weeks already. When he heard the words 'head lice', he was kind of taken aback I cannot forget his expression. He wanted to check Naomi's hair but I quickly told him he probably wouldn't find anything visible then because I have sort of manually cleared most of the nits.

He dashed to the dispensary and brought over two small bottles of anti-lice lotion. He wrote two dates on each bottle and proceeded to explain to use the anti-lice lotion.

The prescribed anti-lice lotion. The brand is A-Lice.

Instead of using the anti-lice lotion like the daily shampoo, all of the four of us (because we live under the same roof) were advised to apply the anti-lice lotion according to the date or schedules that the doctor had listed on the bottle. We ought to evenly rub the lotion on our washed hair and scalp, cover our hair with a damp towel or shower cap for 10 minutes then rinse it thoroughly with running water. The chemicals should be strong enough to kill all the adult lice.

There were two dates written in the lotion bottle. First date was the date when we all applied the lotion to kill all the adult lice. Second date was scheduled around 10 days after the first date, that's basically when the nits were expected to hatch lice babies. Therefore, the plan was to attack the lice babies and newborns on the second date of using the lotion. In conclusion, the war strategy to fight head lice was very logical, well calculated and multilayered. It's like "Don't play play with our head no more, lice! I am bringing in a professional to send you lots and your next generation to oblivion now!"

Back to a more serious topic to combat head lice, seemingly we're not supposed to use the anti-lice shampoo or lotion on daily basis but use it on schedule like how the doctor had taught us. As the shampoo or lotion won't be able to kill the lice eggs or nits, applying the chemical on your head when the eggs haven't hatched would be considered as a futile attempt to remove the head lice. Not to mention, the shampoo and lotions are quite expensive too if you compare them to normal hair shampoo.


Happy girl, happy me.

Anyway, we took the doctor's advice and I am happy to report, after strictly following the doctor's schedules and finishing two bottles of the prescribed anti-lice lotion, we are all clear from head lice. Thank God!

Annyeong, Oppa.

Our challenge now is to prevent the head lice outbreak in our family again by practicing extra hygiene in our house (especially when handling the heavy laundry as lice can survive on fabrics), giving Naomi her own comb to use in the day care (instead of using the communal comb that the school provides) and using the anti-lice shampoo once in a blue moon.... just in case you know!

**Disclaimer: I waited until we're all clear from head lice then only started writing this post. I thought long and hard before sharing this story online publicly because I think it's quite an embarrassing and sensitive topic that involves my children. But then again, I reckon not all of us know how to manage or treat head lice problems in today's modern days (especially if you never had one) despite the widely sold OTC anti-lice shampoos. So yeah, hope you readers find this post at least useful. You never know the surprises your child may bring home from school!

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