You'd think a *school nurse* could spot head lice!

Ugh. Today is Sunday. Maybe last Wednesday (?) I noticed 9YO mudgirl scratching her head more than normal. OTOH, cold weather is coming fast, and she does suffer from dry scalp. So I hoped that was the problem. I did a quick look through her hair (yes, yes, I should have done a more thorough check, in retrospect). Didn’t see anything suspicious. No sores/marks, no nits, looked in the ‘most obvious’ places (according to the websites), nothing. Two days later, the scratching had gotten more frequent. I said “Honey, you’re scratching your head an awful lot; I’m going to do a good check on you tonight for head lice, and I’m going to use a lice comb to do it!” To which she replied “Oh, don’t worry; the school nurse checked me yesterday, and I don’t have any lice or eggs”.

Well, that was a relief! So it’s the cold weather, right?
This morning, she was getting dressed for church (she likes to go with our neighbors) and asked me to brush her hair so it would look extra-good. I’m brushing her hair, and guess what? Yep. Saw a live bug. Saw three, in fact!

I don’t think there’s anywhere in this little 'burg to get lice shampoo on a Sunday, so today, she’s getting the mayonnaise treatment. I’ll have to keep her home from school tomorrow, since the school requires proof of treatment with lice shampoo. So tomorrow morning, I’ll have to go to the local pharmacy and get some Nix or something. I repeat, ugh!

I’m angry at myself for trusting the school nurses’ ruling, and not doing a more thorough check sooner. But damn. A nurse at an elementary school? Shouldn’t they be good at spotting this stuff??


We just went through this with our 8 year old. It’s been a week since the second shampoo application and I still have the paranoid scratches. Every time I itch my head, I have my SO look at that part to make sure there’s nothing there.

It sucks to have the head lice invade your home, but I wouldn’t give too much grief to the school nurse. The schools here are having quite a time with them, and that nurse has probably looked at hundreds of heads lately.

Well, I’m not going to say anything to the school about the nurse not catching it. I will have to call the school first thing in the morning. I know I said in my OP that the school requires proof of treatment with lice shampoo, but now that I think of it, that’s only what her old school (different state) required. It’s possible, I’ve heard, that her school may require treatment with a prescription shampoo. I’d hate to go out tomorrow morning, spend $10.00 on lice shampoo, only to find that I have to spend another $20.00 (doctor’s co-pay) and whatever the 'script costs.

Frankly, I’ve actually been more successful with natural treatment (a blend of tea tree oil, rosemary oil and olive oil). But schools have requirements.

I’ll follow it up with what I’ve used successfully in the past!

I feel your pain. About a year and a half ago, we had an infestation of the wee beasties. It took me HOURS to go through each girl’s hair (I have two) and my son, I buzzed his hair close and treated with shampoos. However, I didn’t really have anyone who could go through MY hair, so I went to the school nurse to get checked. (I went to the health department, they said the law won’t let 'em check me, I go to my doctor, and the nurse told me she won’t do it either. On a later visit, Doc told me that Nurse is full of crap and she certainly WOULD have checked if asked.) School nurse went over my scalp and pronounced me clear. That same evening, I was looking at a zit in my bathroom mirror and saw TWO LIVE LICE!! Not bitty ones, either. LARGE ones. I was unhappy, to say the least. I did the shampoo thing four weeks running, just to make sure I was clear!

I sure wish a place like this had been available to me!

okay folks, may we hear where you are posting from?
Are kids with lice more common in some areas of the US than others?
How about other countries?

And how has this changed over the past 10 or 20 years?
I vaguely remember when in 1965 or so, (in Ohio), ONE student at my elementary school had lice. This was apparenly so unheard of that they closed the whole school for a health emergency, notified parents about home care, and checked everybody’s head when they returned to school 2 days later.

I’ve never heard of a school being closed for head lice, even when there’s a huge infestation keeping half the kids out for a few days. When my high-schooler was in elementary, we’d get notes coming home as soon as the cold weather started. Just general ‘Be aware, keep a look out’ type warnings, as hats and scarves are likely to get thrown in a pile and provide excellent transfer opportunities. There were always a few kids being sent home for treatment, but it was considered a normal occurrence. We’d get a different form letter sometimes, a ‘someone in your child’s class has a confirmed case, we suggest a preventative treatment’ and they’d all get checked every few days until the entire class was declared clear.

Well, as my post says, I’m in WV now, though we battled the problem back in western Maryland, too. (For any who think it’s of interest, I’m in north-central West Virginia).

It’s changed the same way bacteria/infection have changed. Just as many infectious bacteria have become much more resistant to the more ‘classic’ antibiotics, we have spent years breeding strains of head lice that are much more resistant to the kind of pesticides that are in Nix, Rid, etc. In the late 60s, my sister and I had head lice (and were humiliatingly sent home from school over it). One treatment with lice shampoo (plus a painful comb-out with a nit comb) and we were good-to-go. We repeated the lice shampoo a week later, but that was considered a “precautionary” measure. What we have left, some 30 years later, are head lice that are extremely resistant to the pyrethrin/permethrin that these shampoos contain.

I’ve never heard of an entire school being closed because of it. Doesn’t mean it’s never happened, of course, just outside the scope of my experience.

One other thing that’s changed a lot in recent years is the school’s ability to check every student, just on a precautionary basis. Seems like in a lot of locales, this “check all students, just to be sure” approach is considered a privacy breach. A lot of schools are now only allowed to check students who have exhibited symptoms.

Better a false negative than a false positive, right? I hear tales of kids getting sent home with dandruff.

My daughter brought her first (and so far only) case from summer camp. I don’t think she had 'em when she went there, but whether she did or not, the camp staff missed 'em on her head (if she had 'em already) or on someone else’s head (if she caught 'em there).

Why keep her home tomorrow? Do your mayo-combing tonight, that’ll most likely get rid of any live ones, and don’t tell anyone at school.

Screw that prescription stuff - you don’t want to go with the big guns (heh, I typed “bug” instead of “big” at first) anyway. The school might have a “no nits” policy but I can’t believe they’d insist on prescription treatment.

Again, why tell 'em anything?

I agree on the natural treatment, BTW. When Moon Unit had her bout, we did the Nix treatment but I also did a comb-through with olive oil every other day. When I did the olive-oil comb-through the first time (2ish days after the Nix), I definitely found a critter that was too old to have hatched since the Nix treatment. I think elbow grease and non-toxic oils (e.g. your mayo, our olive oil; almond oil has a nicer aroma if you can get it) work just as well.

Our school nurse can’t handle my diabetic child. No way I’d trust her with head lice. I feel for ya: those things are a pain!

Oh, and if the school nurse didn’t spot it, and no one else at the school knows about it, officially she didn’t have it… right? :smiley:

My head itches just reading this thread and I have never had lice. I hope you got them all.

LOL, I got a chuckle from this thread.

I picked up head lice when I was maybe 8 or so.

Our school nurse did catch it - good for her.

But I still remember the exchange.

Background - she was Chinese - jet black hair
I am white - brown hair with natural blond highlights. Mostly faded when I hit adulthood. Now growing thoroughly gray (and I’m not even thirty!)

“You seem to have head-lice. I’ll tell your parents.”
“Oh. OK.” (funny how a disgusting parasite doesn’t faze you much when you’re eight.)
“But your hair…it’s so…interesting.”
“It’s brown…but also…golden.”
“…I guess”
“You have very beautiful hair.”
“How can your hair be brown, but golden?”
“…I don’t know”
“It’s very beautiful”
“Can I call my mom now?”



Blasted power of suggestion!:mad:

Well, for you and Mama Zappa, I’ll say this: I thought of that, too. But mudgirl is very candid. When my middle daughter (now grown and out on her own) called earlier today, and mudgirl asked to talk to her, the first thing she said was “Hey, sis, know why I’m not going to school tomorrow? 'Cuz I have lice!”
On the other hand, maybe I can have a little talk with her, and get her to agree to be more discreet about it. I’m definitely going to have to go with something, preferably what’s worked for us in the past (not the stuff you can buy in the drug store!), and maybe I just have to send a note to school Tuesday saying she wasn’t feeling well on Monday. OTOH, she already told her best friend from upstairs (a tenant’s kid) that she has lice, and this is a really, really ‘podunk’ town, so by Tuesday, everyone’s gonna know anyway. . .Sigh. I’ll probably call the school tomorrow, ask them what their policy is, and try to follow it. I’m not worried about a ‘no nits’ policy. I mean, who the hell is gonna check her for nits? The school nurse who couldn’t spot live bugs?? I’m guessing the school will require some ‘approved’ treatment like Nix (or something equally useless). I’ll buy some, so I can send in the box top or whatever the hell they require. Then I’ll do what I know works. I’ve already ordered the more exotic oils off the 'net. In the meantime, not only will I do the Nix, I’ll also douse her hair in conditioner each night and nit-comb through it.

Thank goodness she got her (extra-thick, curly) hair cut short a couple of months ago! If it was still long, this would be double hell, for her as well as me! Also, thank goodness I work from home, for myself, so I can take whatever time I really need to deal with this mess. The shampooing/conditioning/combing is one thing. Then you’ve got the laundry, the vacuuming, the high-temp drying. . .ugh.

Mama Zappa, the stories of kids being sent home with dandruff just piss me off! Not only do those poor kids have to (often by school rules) be subjected to (ineffective) treatments, but their parents freak in the mean time. Me, I’m not freaking because I have two grown kids who have each been through this.

The thing I feel worst about is that I’ve known for days she’s been scratching a lot! But the school nurse checked her (under ostensibly better lighting than our apartment provides) and cleared her. So how many other kids has she communicated it to without me even knowing she was infested?? She is very gregarious, and so are those damned bugs!

lee, I know just how you feel! I can’t watch ‘bug scenes’ in movies without scratching! :eek:

Well, that decides the whole ‘treat her with mayo/olive oil tonight, and send her to school Monday’ debate. She just came into the kitchen, and told me she needed an Advil because she had a headache. She also had a runny nose, so I gave her a Zyrtec at the same time. Upon trying to swallow the pills, she vomited a lot, and then took her temp which is now 101! So, no school for the kid tomorrow!

Yes, I’m sure the vomiting and fever are not a result of the lice, but it does help decide the question of treating her with a home remedy for the lice and sending her to school tomorrow anyway!

We are just post-outbreak here. I think my 2-year old kid got them from her father’s family, as we don’t go out much and hadn’t been exposed to many risk factors on our time. But with him, his mother is an early elementary school teacher and his girlfriend is some sort of nurse or nurse’s aid and has a kid who most likely goes to daycare, so a lot more risk factors there.

We had been itchy for a few weeks, but it didn’t seem like lice. No bugs, no nits, no crawling sensation. Anti-histamines helped with my itch, and that didn’t work before when I had them. (I am in my 30s and lost my job 2.5 years ago. I have no risk factors, I don’t even leave the house much or have a lot of visitors and I have gotten lice TWICE in this period. Wtf?) I had a rash on my neck, so I thought it was an infection.

Well, then I found a bug. I figure now the rash I had must have just been from me scratching. I contacted my kid’s father to tell him to keep an eye on her, but not why. I just said she had been complaining of itch. I thought there was a good chance she didn’t have it, as her hair is very thin. He claimed he didn’t see anything, but within having her home for 5 minutes, without even looking hard, I found half a dozen bugs.

So I did treatments on us both, top to bottom house cleaning and quarantine of stuff, etc. I spent up to an hour a day on her hair and mine. Each. I sent her back to her father and told him he had to do the same thing and when she came back, he declared he and his medically-trained girlfriend hadn’t found any. When i got her home, she got peanut butter in her head and I went to wipe it off and found her to be crawling with bugs.

So apparently there is an epidemic of medical professionals who can’t spot lice. eyeroll

I did the second treatment on her and they appear to be gone.

I can’t tell if mine are gone and have no one to ask for help. I haven’t found bugs or eggs, but I still itch (but is it itchy cause I keep scratching?) and sometimes have that creepy, crawly sensation.

I wear my hair tied back tightly (supposedly inhibits them from moving freely about your scalp). Between commercial treatments I use a listerine/vinegar soak under a shower cap. That worked very, very well the last time. I put tea tree oil in my conditioner too.

I did read that being clean is actually more likely to get you lice because they get around easier on clean hair, so that’s probably why the oil treatments work-too slippery for them.

So since I don’t know where she got them for sure and since it’s not being treated properly, we might be in for months of this if we keep getting re-infected.

I live in the UK and have spent the better part of the last 3 years dealing with this. The first two years I was quite smug because it kept going round and round the class and the girls never got them. But man, once they did it was a nightmare. Because they go to a private school, there is no school nurse or public health nurse who visits (I have no idea if such a thing exists in the public schools here) and the school was too chickenshit to enforce any kind of lice policy at all. They would just send home friendly reminders to parents to check their kids’ hair. As class parent I used to email everyone, practically begging them to deal with the problem but my kids kept coming home with them regardless of how much combing I did and how many chemicals I subjected them to. Finally, they’re gone!

A friend in Toronto has her girls in a school where they hired “The Lice Assassins” to come in and clear every head. They came back three times. The school passed the cost on to the parents. They raised a huge stink about it but they got rid of the problem. I wish my school had been brave enough to risk the wrath of the parents and just deal with it.

Now I need to go scratch my head.

Our school provides no information on how to get rid of lice other than OTC remedies. But they are certain to make sure no one gets hurt feelings over a lice infestation, which is nice the first time, but by the second time, you don’t care who feels what, you just want some people to get the message about how to break the cycle.

I’ve passed along to the admin all sorts of useful info on how to detect, treat, prevent, the life cycle, and none of it has filtered down to the handout they use to inform parents of a lice breakout in the class.

Gah i hate those things.

I would have gladly paid someone else to deal with it. I’m nearsighted, but have “old-fart farsightedness” as well, which makes going through my kids’ hair extremely difficult and time-consuming (last year–10 hrs to do one girl, and 12 hrs to do the other).

We just had a very minor go-round with lice. Because my older daughter is, like me, so paranoid about them, she caught the very beginning of an infestation in her own hair about a month ago. One bug, few nits. Two shampoos, problem fixed. Then this past Saturday night, she spent the night with her cousin. She slept at the foot of the bed, stripped the girl’s pillowcase and laid fresh-washed clothes over the pillow. Next day, she saw her cousin scratching up a storm. She checked her hair and found bugs. scream Thankfully, she never got head-to-head with her and we did a shampoo treatment last night. Totally precautionary, but, I felt, totally necessary.

Damn, I hate lice!