We have a lot of families in here who find out they have head lice and freeze. Who do they tell? How far back to do they need to go? What if it’s embarrassing and their children lose friends?
The hard truth is that you need to share the information. Most people have head lice from 6-8 weeks before the population builds up enough to become noticeable, so you need to look at least two months back to see who to inform. This isn’t just for their benefit; if you don’t tell anybody, they can’t get checked, and there is a risk that they can give it back to you and you’ll have to do this whole thing over again.
Here is a general list of who you need to contact about having lice:
- Family. If you saw your sister, or just babysat your nephews, or the kids spent the weekend at their grandparents, all those people have been exposed to lice.
- Friends. Many of our clients are in school, and their friends’ parents need to know that their children have been exposed to lice. This is even more critical if they have sleepovers, or if they hug or share jackets or hats.
- Significant others. If you have lice, odds are the person you hang out with a lot has lice, as well. Hugs, cuddles, and bed sharing are great ways to spread lice. For middle or high school students, borrowing a hoodie or jacket from someone you have a crush on is a great way to catch it, even with minimal personal contact.
- Roommates, dorm mates, sorority sisters, or fraternity brothers. If you share a living space, there’s a great chance you accidentally shared lice.
- Sports teams. Sometimes Little League teams share helmets. Most girls’ teams require ponytails, which can flip lice through the air from girl to girl during a game or cheerleading or dance routine. In addition, these teams foster tight friendships, so you can often inform their friend circle and their team with a few calls.
- Child care. Day cares have lice the same way schools do, and so do after school programs. If you have a regular babysitter, nanny, or just a good friend or family member who watches your child, let them know as well.
- Salons. Sometimes your hairdresser will miss seeing lice in your hair. Because they work so closely with hair, they have special regulations associated with head lice. It is a good policy to let them know if there’s a chance you had lice during your last visit.
The good news is, we can help. If you give us names and numbers, we will call schools, dance groups, coaches, after school programs, day cares, and hair dressers. We do it anonymously, saying only that we had a client come in (in Mrs. Smith’s class, in 9th grade, in the 7pm dance class on Wednesdays) who had lice. They are now lice free, but the client requested we inform the business that head lice were in their location.
The only way to keep our community lice free is if the entire community works together. Some schools cannot inform parents that head lice were found, so your best bet is to tell your friends. Moms have an amazing informal information network. Your school’s PTA can help make sure that people are doing biweekly head checks and keeping their children clear, which will reduce the likelihood of your own children catching it again.