It’s All Fun and Games Until Your Child’s Head Itches During A Lice Outbreak

Bleep Bloop! Bleep Bloop!

I heard this *just* as I was about to step in the shower this morning. My husband was at work and the kids were at school. I thought that weird robotic blooping sound had to be the phone. (We got a new cordless phone for Christmas, and I’m still not used to its bizarre ringtone.).

I investigated and, sure enough, it was the phone “ringing”.

Before me appeared a mother’s most dreaded caller ID: the school’s number.

Now, there is absolutely no *good* reason to get a call from the school number. None. Something has happened. One of the kids is either in trouble or sick. Those are the possibilities (For anything else, you will get an email). I braced myself for the verdict…

“Hello! It’s the Lower School nurse, and there is no emergency!”

I did some quick motherly mental calculations in about three tenths of a second. It’s the Lower School, so it’s got to be about Lucy. It’s the nurse so she’s not in trouble. It’s not an emergency, so she’s not bleeding out. We currently have three epidemics going around school: flu, strep throat, and a GI virus. Although all three of these are heinous, they are not emergencies.

Got it. I was up to speed. Even though she was FINE when she left home, I deduced I was probably about to be on my way to pick up Lucy for having a fever or otherwise being sick. I was sad I was *this close* to actually getting a shower before I answered the phone, but this is neither the first nor the last time that motherhood has denied or delayed my personal hygiene needs.

The nurse continued, “Lucy was complaining to her teacher that her head was itchy.”

Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention the FOURTH outbreak going around the school right now. LICE. Motherf-ing LICE.

Images Courtesy of Gilles San Martin under Creative Commons License  How he was brave enough to take these without running away and screaming, I'll never know.

Images Courtesy of Gilles San Martin under Creative Commons License How he was brave enough to take these without running away and screaming, I’ll never know.

Okay, you know that I’m a medical professional. I am not at all squeamish about a pus filled wound. I can deal with a bleeding gash on an arm. I can do rectal exams all day long and never think twice. I can eat and have discussions about things that would turn most people’s stomachs. I am exceedingly hard to gross out.



Seriously, I’d rather drive through a CARWASH, than deal with a lice infestation. I felt like curling up in the fetal position and rocking in the corner just thinking about it.

Knowing about the outbreak, I had even run Lucy through the anti-lice paces today before school as I was drying her hair.

Me: What are you NOT to share at school with ANYONE?

Lucy: Jackets, headbands, hats, combs, brushes, and scarves. And you can’t touch each other’s hair to do braids at recess. (She’d been busted for this activity last week).

Me (trying to sound very sweet and innocent so as to lure her into a mistake): What if you just needed to borrow one tiny hairband from someone to put your hair up in a pony tail? That would be okay, right?

Lucy: No. I don’t think so.

Me: You don’t THINK so??!!  GAH! Of COURSE NOT! NEVER, EVER use someone else’s hair band. EVER.

Now here I was with the nurse telling me about my daughter’s itchy head. NIGHTMARE.

“So her teacher brought her immediately down to the office here so we could have a look.”

(Of course she did. She’s no fool! Kill me now.)

Dread filled my body. I was envisioning the special shampoo and the de-contaminating of sheets and combing of hair. My own head immediately became itchy. I knew if one of us went down with the nasty critters, we’d all soon fall like dominoes if we weren’t already teeming with them.

“Lucy doesn’t have lice. We looked really thoroughly and she’s fine, but she does have a few patches of dry scalp you might want to do something about. That’s why I’m calling.”

Diagnosis: Dandruff.

I had a heart stopping 2 minutes for….dandruff. Whew. That was a close one but we’re in the clear…at least for now.

All Clear...At Least For Now


 Linking up with :MOM2

You Know You’re A Mom When….

  • The school number on your caller ID fills you with dread
  • You can do mental arithmetic on the phone to know in .25 seconds how worried you should be
  • You are resigned to the fact that your personal hygiene needs always come last.




It’s All Fun and Games Until Your Child’s Head Itches During A Lice Outbreak — 95 Comments

  1. By some miracle I never actually had to do the head lice thing. But about a month ago I had the boyfriend text me – Did you brush your hair this morning? Because your favorite red-head’s friend has lice.

    The friend that had spent the night and sat at the kitchen table with her head within a very short distance of mine.

    I spent a whole week doing the paranoid head scratch.

    • Oh, no!! I know they don’t “jump” but sitting close…is sitting close! I’d have head scratched at least a week too!!

  2. I am soooo with you! Lice (and by the way, just reading this made my head itch like crazy) is my absolute fear. I’d rather deal with puke (and only my a small margin) than lice. I have so much hair that if it ever did happen, I’d never get rid of them (so does Belle). I let her go to a sleepover, ONCE and the next day the mom stopped over with a bottle of wine and lice shampoo because a kid there ended up having lice. ICK! Never again. So glad it is only dandruff!

    • I’d rather deal with vomit, too. MUCH rather. At least that mom knew about the lice and could tell you so you could do a prophylactic shampoo. *shiver*

  3. And now my head is itchy, too. (Why does that happen when talking about lice?) This is something we have avoided so far.( I truly, truly hope that remains the case.) Dry scalp is so much easier to deal with – hope your family gets through the current outbreak lice-free.

    • We have all of our crossables crossed that we make it out of this one unscathed. I am also knocking on wood and throwing salt over my shoulder to seal the deal.

  4. You’d think she could have LED with “no lice” – I hope you guys stay parasite free!

    (I’m so sorry to do this, but have you heard of eyelash mites? EWWWW!)

    • *fingers in ears* Lalalalalala I cannot hear you talking about eyelash mites lalalalalalala!

      I would have appreciated a THERE ARE NO LICE as a lead now that you mention it. That was a tense two minutes, I’m telling you!

    • I hope you were knocking on wood when you typed that, Crystal. My biggest fear is to breathe a sigh of relief that we are bug free only to be told the next day we are infested. It would happen just that way.

  5. I am laughing hysterically at this article. I too go through the same thought process when I see the school phone number. And we have a big lice outbreak in our school is well and I just got a cast put on my arm yesterday so I have told my children under no uncertain circumstances are they to come home with lice because mommy has no idea how to clean lice with a cast on her right hand for today there was a lot of braiding and hairspray and all sorts of praying so I have my fingers crossed that the worst call I get is itchy scalp too!

    • Oh, no! You poor thing!! I hope you’re feeling okay! You totally deserve to miss this outbreak!! (We all deserve to miss it, but the casted ESPECIALLY deserve to miss it) Good luck!!!!

  6. Oy, I worked in an elementary school for two years, and after one of the students had rested her head on me during the morning circle time she announced that her sister had lice. Gah! I zipped over to the school nurse to make sure my head was clear of the little buggers, then promptly tied up my cardigan in a plastic bag that I tied up in the trunk of my car for a month before I would touch it. Man, I can’t imagine coming home and having to check my three grown roommates’ heads for lice.

    So glad to hear Lucy does not have lice (this was such a suspenseful blog post!)

    • Oh, Bev!! Hahahaha! I can totally see her revealing that as she was resting her head on you! I would have high tailed it to the nurse, too!! (and good thinking on the cardigan…so smart!!) It would have been IMPOSSIBLE to tell grown roommates that they had to be checked for lice. They would have formed a mutiny!

  7. *shivers* Lice…Ick! I always hate the letters that come home that start, “There’s been a few cases of lice…” Make me squirm and start itching immediately. Horrible! And I have really long, thick hair, so if I get it…Yah, bad day! And we have a cat…Oi! Don’t even get me started on thinking about the torment of having to de-louse a cat! I would be joining you in the corner with my teddy bear and blankie! I might even suck a thumb and cry out for mommy! I am so a lice nazi. Hate those things!

    Anyway, I’m glad she told you it was only dandruff, but geez, could it not have come home in a letter or could she not have started things off with, “Your daughter has dandruff”? I mean, talk about near cardiac arrest! I totally feel for you! *fights the urge to itch*

    • Omg…that never crossed my mind! We have a cat and a dog…would we have to de-louse them? GAH!!!!! Can you imagine???!!!!

      I would have been fine with an email about the dandruff. It was sweet of her to call–and they are SO good about calling when they see your child for things to keep you in the loop–it’s just a little nerve wracking when you know it’s lice season!!!

      • Yep, you have to de-louse the fur kids, too! It’s horrible, especially the cat. So glad you don’t have to!

        I know what you mean about the calls; I love it when our school keeps in touch, too, but yah – that I think would be email worthy vs. call worthy, but I get why she called at the same time.

        • Hi ladies! Caileen here, I work for Tec Labs. We make non-toxic head lice solutions called Licefreee! Just thought I’d chime in and mention that if ever lice do invade your homes, your pets cannot “catch” human lice. The lice that affect humans are completely different than the critters that prefer your pets! In fact, human lice don’t “like” animals and vice versa.

          PS – We deal with lice everyday, and we still itch from time to time :).

  8. Oh, how lucky you are. My daughter brought lice home from camp a few years ago. It was awful! We didn’t know she had it until it had spread. It took multiple treatments to clear her head. And I got it. Yes, it’s the creepiest, most disgusting thing I can think of. Ugh! So gross. I came *this* close to shaving my head. For real. My husband and son shaved theirs. I spent weeks cleaning and treating everything. We even did several vinegar rinses on our hair to keep it from coming back and to keep it from getting my other kids. It was a long, horrific experience that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I’m so glad your daughter didn’t have it.

    And that nurse opened that phone call perfectly. Kudos to her!

    Stopping by from SITS.

    • OMG…BOTH of my kids go to summer camp…my daughter for 2 weeks and my son for a MONTH. If they got it there they could be totally and completely infested before I even knew. GAH…GROSS!!!!!!
      I am SO sorry that you got it, too!! That is just the absolute worst. UGH!!!

    • I know!! It’s completely impossible not to start scratching when talking about lice. It’s so gross. So glad we were able to slide by with just dandruff …at least this time!

  9. I’ll give the school credit, at least they said its not an emergency. Give Lucy credit too for not falling into your trap. Good try on your part.
    Speaking of carwash – I pull into one the other day that you don’t like, its cold, so when underwash starts creates big cloud of steam & can’t see. Just have to go forward by feel. Made me think of you while I was doing it.

    • Yes. You have to be careful with Lucy. Bobby is a total rule follower so he will do exactly as told. Lucy is more “creative” in her interpretation of the rules. You have to watch her like a hawk!
      I cannot tell you how hard I laughed at your car wash story. The fact that you thought of me while you were creeping along into that thing MAKES MY DAY!! My work here is done!

  10. Really a funny article. It’s kind of bad that having dandruff is really good news these days. Are there more lice in the world now? It seems like the only time you had to check for liced was when you were being processed to go into prison. Glad Lucy isn’t lousy!

    • Hahahaha! Good point!! It’s a total epidemic each year now…but I don’t remember it being like this back in the day! It probably has to do with global warming. The lice don’t die back anymore because it’s never cold enough. (or something)

  11. Itching my head just reading this post!! I HATE the little buggers! We had it twice in one summer – with three of my five. TWICE!!!!! I start hyperventilating whenever I think it’s back….

    • Oh no!!! TWICE!!! and with multiple children??!!! That makes me want to weep. It seems like if you have it once, you should be immune for life. (at least that would be fair) I feel like hyperventilating just thinking about your experience!!

  12. I felt like I was reading a HORROR novel and was biting my nails and squirming up until the diagnosis!!! GAH!!!!! Thank GOD Lucy is lice free!!!! I do the very same thing with my girl… I even put her hair in french braids daily to deter the little bugs from floating her way… 🙂 Lice. Sucks.

    • Thank goodness we escaped the horror…at least this time. Lucy loves to trade jackets and she and her friends love to play with each other’s hair. I just feel like we’re living on borrowed time over here. (I don’t know how to french braid…I want to learn how!)

  13. Thank God it was dandruff. It would have taken forever to clear up with all that beautiful long hair!! Out of 17 years as a Mother only one of my kids got lice one time. Tanner got lice went we went to..wait for it…..Disney World. Oh yeah, it was a great time! remember now…Tanner is my anxiety boy. I got him fixed right up by shaving his head. Hmm…..maybe I traumatized him and that’s what his problem was the other day…..Well, I really don’t care. I would have done ANYTHING to make sure Samantha and Olivia didn’t get it. I don’t know that I would have rather done a Rectal exam but, I know I definitely didn’t want to cut their hair!!

    xoxo Nikki

    • That is SO not fair. Disney is supposed to be the happiest place on earth. Lice just don’t fit in to that equation. Awful!!

      Hahahaha! No WONDER he was not happy with his current haircut…he was having lice flashbacks!!

      I agree…anything to keep the girls from getting it! Nightmare!

  14. So you had a two minute-ish break down between the time she said Lucy complained of an itchy head to when she said she did not have lice? O.o
    I am so like that too. At the mention of even a slightly concerning issue, all kinds of horrible scenarios unfold in my head!
    So glad she doesn’t have lice. I had them as a kid. It was a nightmare!

    • Exactly, Xae! I don’t need much info for my mind to start running 10 steps ahead and BOOM. At lest this time it was for nothing. (now my head is itching again)

  15. Ughhhh that would be so gross!!! So glad she doesn’t have lice!

    I found a cricket in our house the other day and I freaked out! What if it crawls on me at night?! It’s not like we live on a farm or anything, where the eff is a cricket coming from?!

    • Bwahahahahahaha! This is no FARM!!! How did a cricket get in here??!! I’m with you. I need no insects of any type in our general living space. Period.

    • Hahaha! I would have been fine with that. At least I can scan ahead in an email and figure out the part that will keep me from having a meltdown quickly!

  16. This year is my daughter’s first year in school and I got the call one time during the day from school and my literally DROPPED to my feet! It was the office reminding me about school pictures! WHAT?!? They could have sent a note in her bookbag for that! They also could have sent Lucy home with a note as well! It’s good they checked her out…and GREAT it wasn’t lice! My skin is still itching from that picture!

    • I don’t think the people at school realize the power they have with their calls. They don’t understand we catch our breath and brace ourselves for the worse when we realize it’s them. (or maybe they do and they like to mess with us)

      I am SO glad they checked her out. I do check her myself because I’m like that…but it’s so nice to have another set of eyes give her the once over. I’ve never been so happy about dandruff in my entire life!

    • I am so glad you never did!! I hope some of that good luck rubs off on us and I’m able to say the same thing eventually!!!

    • I just found out last week that there are professionals that can deal with this. I would gladly pay for de-lousing. *shiver* So glad that your child’s case was mild. It’s good news that it can happen that way!!! I will keep that in my mind if we ever do get the actually dreaded call!!

  17. When my oldest son was in preschool he got lice. I flipped my lid. At the time we had NEVER cut his hair and it hung in 3 perfect ringlets down his back.I did the treatment, the comb, washed everything, vacuumed, shampooed carpets tied up stuffed animals. Send him back 2 days later he has them again. This went on for nearly 3 weeks. No one could figure out how or where they were coming from. In desperation I cut his hair off. I was crazed with anger when he got them AGAIN *9 times total in 4 weeks*. Not nits but full grown lice every time. Finally I confronted the school knowing they were NOT coming from him or us and he never had any nits from day one, always full grown ones. Come to find out a little girl he rode the bus with, had class with, was desk mate and lunch buddy with had them. As in her mom would half way do her hair, enough to pass inspection, and that was it. No bed clothes, no animals toys blankets floors nothing treated or removed to kill off the bugs. I went OFF. Told them if they didn’t get the nurse to her house to take care of the issue I would be there before they could blink.

    • Oh..MY….GOD!!!! I feel totally enraged just hearing about that. What mom would DO that???? That is just horrible!

      And to think you cut off your son’s never-cut-before hair, and it was because of THAT! Awful!!

  18. That last pic made me giggle for a Long time! Thank goodness, when my daycare calls I go into complete panic, here I was thinking we have to protect out kids from the flu and u have 4 FOUR lice outbreaks!! Unbelievable!

    • I know, Nellie! You have to bob and weave and dodge them all…flu…strep…vomit viruses…but the LICE is the most dreaded call of all. I feel SO fortunate we evaded that fate this time. You just never know. *shiver*

  19. You crack me up!!! My neighbor is a teacher (I used to be) and she had a child in her class who had lice. I got a phone call saying, “my husband isn’t home and my head is itchy, I can’t relax bc I may have lice can you come check my head” haha inwas so glad that it was her mind playing tricks on her and not lice!!

    • Hahahahahaha! Oh, I totally get it. I would have called you if I was her, too!!! And you rock. Any friend who will check your head for lice is gem!! 🙂

  20. Fortunately, all Lily has come home with is dandruff, too! I even have the “lice-preventative” spray to use during outbreaks, although I know it’s probably just a scam. But it makes me feel better!

    • Sometimes we have to do what we have to do, Ginny Marie! If it makes you feel better to spray that spray, you go for it!! (It’s better than doing nothing and just waiting for the dreaded call!)

  21. Ugh- thank goodness. We wound up with it last fall. When we went to Disney and shared brushes with my nieces. Dumb me. I didn’t get it – thank goodness, but yeah, it was there. Ew. Gross. Thankfully she wasn’t in school yet so we holed up in the house and I hired a professional for help. It was the best $ I’ve spent in like almost ever.

    • I’m telling you…I am seeking out these professional de-lousers if I ever need one. It would be worth every penny. (and can you imagine how badly the professionals must itch at the end of the day?)

      So glad you avoided getting it, at least!!

  22. I just went through this with my son. Last year he got lice twice. Ever since then I’ve gone through his hair about once a week. I got lax over the Christmas break so the week before we went back to school I decided to take a look. At first glance, he was COVERED in nits. I caught my breath. Then I realized that 1) none of the little white things were glued to the hair – I could brush them right off 2) the white things were confined to a mohawk strip in the middle of his head and 3) he hadn’t washed his hair for three days. (Hey, it was the break.) I bought him some kiddie dandruff shampoo and checked again the next day. Nuthin’. Whew.

    • Hahahahaha. OMG!!! I can only imagine how you felt in those first seconds before you realized it was just dandruff! You poor thing!!! Whew!!

  23. I have a fear of lice. So far my kids have never had lice…but I’m worried it’s coming 🙁 And I’ll freak.

    Thank goodness yours was only dandruff!!

    • Me too, Amber! I’d try not to freak…but I’m fairly sure I would! (I’m knocking on wood RIGHT NOW that we both keep nit free!)

  24. {Melinda} Oh. my. This brings back memories. One of my children (who shall remain nameless) was found to have lice on the morning …. of camp. And camp would not take said child until they were completely lice free. Which means lice treatments and picking out lice one by one. It was a horrifying experience for all involved. So thanks for letting me relive that memory! 🙂 Glad it was only dandruff!!

    • Oh, Melinda!! The only thing worse than your child coming home from camp with lice…is NOT BEING ABLE TO GO TO CAMP ON TIME because of lice! That would totally bite!!!

      (I’d forgotten that they do a lice check before letting them enter camp. I’ll be sure to be anxious about it this summer!)

  25. I freaking LOVE dandruff! LOVE it! My oldest had live last year – and it was the 3 week never ending saga. Never ending, I tell you. We send men to the moon and we can’t figure out how to kill those eggs? Really?

    • OMG, that is such a great point! How in the world have we not solved the lice crisis yet with all the advances we have made!

  26. I don’t want to talk about lice!!!! We got it from the movie theatre (as best I can figure) and it was a NIGHTMARE trying to get it out of my boys’ long curls. Not to mention that my own hair goes down to my rear end and my husband has shoulder-length curls. We ALL had it by the time I realized it (my son sometimes comes to sleep in our bed at night.) UGHHHHHHHH! And the worst is it’s not like chicke pox or something that you can commiserate with other parents about.
    I can just imagine their reactions: “Hey guys, man this re-occuring lice cycle is really bumming me out!” We were pariahs!

    • Ha ha ha Robin! The end of your comment just made me laugh out loud! I cannot imagine the nightmare of getting lice from the movie theater…ugh, that is the worst!

  27. lol…that was great! I so know how you feel bc we had a lice break-out at our school too and I was so nervous! My daughter’s two bffs both got it but she didn’t…phew! Thanks for visiting my blog yesterday! Have a great weekend!

    • That is such a relief that your daughter dodged that bullet! Thank goodness they did not share that with her! 😉

  28. Oh, my heart is beating fast. just the thought gives me anxiety. I have two fears. 1. being attacked by a scary man (I can’t even type the word.) and 2. LICE! I remember being in school and sitting next to a little girl who had lice and I was so freaked out. My hair is probably the only physical feature I’ve ever really liked about myself. Well, until recently when I fried it off. (That story is on the blog), but live freaks me out! Thank God for dandruff!

    I laughed about the brush. Good God, NO! Don’t use someone else’s brush!

    • Oh, I read your hair story!!

      I agree, Adrienne. I can take a lot and not bat an eye, but insects crawling on my head –just the though alone almost sends me over the edge!!

    • Woo Hoo, Pinterest!! We never really know if pinning things on Pinterest makes a difference!!

      I have never been so relieved for dandruff in my life!!

    • YES! I think lice is the very most dreaded for me. I do not enjoy a stomach bug, but I’d take that over lice any day of the week!! Blech!!

      Our family has escaped lice thus far…so it makes me feel like our days are numbered!! (How’s that for a pessimistic outlook!)

  29. As a former teacher I have had to deal with students having lice a couple times and it is no fun. Talk about an itchy head! Thank goodness it was just dandruff!

    • BLECH!! We’ve had a few teachers comment, and I just cannot get over that lice is sort of an occupational hazard for teachers. YUCK. Teachers don’t get paid NEARLY enough to make up for that!!

  30. Uhm, yeah, ew. I forget if I commented here already but we returned home from Disney last fall with a bunch of vistors. Fun times. AHHHH!

    Thank you guys so much for adding my button and linking up with me. YOu rock. Seriously. xox

    • Oh, I remember that because you got a professional to deal with it. (Which is totally my strategy now if it happens. I even looked into it and they have those people in Charlotte…thank goodness)

      We wouldn’t miss your link up for the world!! It’s such a fantastic meme!!! I hope you do it often!!

  31. ick, that would be a nightmare, thank heavens for dandruff! I get itchy just reading the brochures that come home from school about the lice. returning the visit from Sharing moments of motherhood link-up! I hope Andrea keeps this one going, so entertaining!

    • The informational pamphlets make me itchy too, Tanya! I hope Andrea makes the link-up a recurring feature. It’s such a great idea and fun! 🙂

  32. We’ve had lice! That sucks. Know what else my daughter has learned not to share/borrow?? Shoes! If you don’t wear tennis shoes at school the PE teachers are nice enough to let you borrow a pair from the community shoe basket. Guess who got athlete’s foot!?! Now she remembers to always take a spare pair of sneakers in her backpack!!!

  33. Ack. Ack. Just ack. We’ve never (I’ve been sympathy scratching with one hand and knocking on wood with the other) had to deal with lice thus far. We survived 2 years of pre-k and almost all of Kindergarten so far. Our school has had no letters home, and I haven’t heard of any parents from our school discussing an outbreak. I have heard it from other parents in surrounding schools and from Moms I know who live in the city over. I don’t honestly know much about it. From my friend’s experience I’ve gleaned that the lice don’t like short hair and they LOVE clean hair? Is that right? Also, just for my sanity sake, when I’m combing/parting my girl’s hair after bathtime, would these be VISIBLE? Or are they microscopic? Because After bath each night, I comb her hair wet to do her part and then scrunch because she has some curls. So far I’ve not seen anything alarming, but I was never really *SURE* if I would see them with the naked eye.

  34. Just terrifying. Almost when my son’s pediatrician told me that my toddler had hand, foot, and mouth disease. I said, “WHAT?!!!” I thought that this could be the only thing that my son has gotten that has a worse name — or least worse connotations — than “lice.” HFM was not all that bad, considering. But it seriously need a name change.

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