The beginning of the school year means different things to different people. For my kids, it’s the joy of buying school supplies and new clothes. For me it’s also buying school supplies and new clothes, but I wouldn’t use the word “joy” to describe my feelings.
However, back to school can also mean head lice. Last year lice hit the school we go to, Laning Avenue Elementary School, only a few days into the new school year, and it wasn’t alone: Every Verona elementary school had an outbreak. Unfortunately, until the time comes when there are no lice in existence we will have to deal with these critters.
If you are new to Verona’s schools this fall, I realize that saying we have had lice here sounds pretty horrific. But lice is much more common now than you think. For the official low-down on lice, check out the National Pesticide Information Center. In Verona, the public schools will send home any child found to have active lice and not allow him back into class until he can show proof of being nit-free. It is then up to the individual school principals to decide whether the child’s entire class or grade needs to be checked, and what further measures to implement.
The NPIC and related sites note the effectiveness of chemicals like permethrin or pyrethrin. But the good news is that there are natural ways to both prevent and remove lice. With lice prevention, I don’t think there are any absolute guarantees but as a mom, I feel better knowing I’m doing what I can to try to keep those critters away without fumigating my house daily.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I have a personal business in essential oils, which are organic, medicinal quality plant compounds. I mix my own anti-lice solution which saves me a shopping trip and also gives me comfort in knowing exactly what I’m putting on my kids. There are several retail companies that have natural products that you can use, the most popular is probably Fairy Tales. The active ingredients in their Fairy Tales Rosemary products are rosemary, tea tree, lavender and citronella oils. Fairy Tales sells its shampoos, conditioners and sprays through its Web site, but they are also available at Terry’s Drugs on Bloomfield Avenue.
Should you find yourself in a situation where lice have made a home on your child’s head, there are a couple of options. You can go straight to the over-the-counter chemicals, but the natural and most effective way to get rid of lice is to pick them out (and the nits too) one by one. Yes, it’s a tedious process, but both the people at Seventh Generation and Lice be Gone say this is the way to go. It’s chemical-free and the only real guarantee they are gone from one’s head. Follow up head checking is recommended whether you choose to use the chemical treatments or not.
One other trick. Lice, like bed bugs, don’t like heat. So I throw coats, backpacks, and anything else I can think of in the dryer for 20 minutes once it all comes home.
Home page photos by Gilles San Martin via Flickr.