How to Have a Shame-Free Conversation With Your Kids About Lice
It doesn’t have to be a big deal.
There is no need to make lice a big deal. Your child shouldn’t feel that they did anything wrong and neither should you.
Lice don’t cause disease and there are now easy and effective treatments to get rid of both the lice and eggs (nits).
All too often the child with lice, and their parents, feel shame for having lice. There has been an association between lice and poor hygiene or a dirty home environment. However, lice live just as well on a clean head with a clean pillow as they do on a dirty head with a dirty pillow. The lice simply need access to the scalp for blood meals and body heat. Cleanliness has nothing to do with it.
Head lice are spread by head to head contact. Yes, it is possible to get lice from sharing a hat or brush, but lice cannot live for long off of a human head so they do not move off of someone’s head on purpose. In the end, your children do not need to be thinking about lice everyday. Getting haircuts or styling hair in ways that makes it less likely for their hair to come in contact with their friend’s hair (short hair or hair pulled back) could be helpful in some situations, but why let lice control your actions in that way?
It is important for children to be able to play and be carefree. They may pick up lice at some point and they may not. If they do end up with lice, the Lice Clinics of America are here to support you with information and treatments.
You Didn’t Do Anything Wrong
As a parent, you may need this reminder as much as your child does. You didn’t do anything wrong. If another parent talks to you about a case of lice, remember that lice do not need to be a big deal and you do not need have a shocked reaction to show that you are a good and caring parent. If your child or one of their classmates gets lice, shrug it off as just something that happens, like catching a cold.
Unfortunately, shrugging it off as just something that happens may not be the message your child has already received at school or day care. School officials and other children may have reacted with fear or alarm that could be interpreted as blame or judgment.
Tell your child that getting head lice is like catching a cold. You get it from someone else, who got it from someone before that. No one did anything wrong!
Instead of wondering who to blame when there is a case of lice, parents can begin to foster a supportive community offering advice for treatment. Open communication about lice is one of the best ways to keep it from spreading. It is easier to deal with lice on one head than it is to deal with a whole classroom full of infested heads.
You can also tell your child that head lice aren’t dangerous and that, like a cold, they will go away with appropriate treatment. No big deal.
Lice Treatment Options
Perhaps the major reason that lice have such a weight associated with them is that historically they have been difficult to remove. Aside from shaving your head, there were not great treatment options. Because of this sense of powerlessness, lice were viewed as a serious issue that needed to be dealt with drastically. Today, however, lice are better understood and there are many treatment options available.
With 6-12 million cases of head lice in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, there is no reason to feel a stigma because your child picked up lice. Fortunately, Lice are getting easier to treat with the advent of the AirAllé medical device. Offered by Lice Clinics of America, AirAllé is an FDA-cleared medical device that kills live lice and eggs in a single treatment that takes about 90 minutes. Knowing that there is a safe, fast, and effective solution available can go a long way to reducing fear and stress. Find the clinic nearest you and schedule an appointment.