Lice Treatment – But first – are they good for us?

Lice Treatment

Should you decide to rid yourself of lice – my one recommendation would be this comb.  I would also recommend the coconut oil on the head approach.  Slather it on your head, cover with shower cap/or plastic grocery bag,  and go to sleep – if it’s possible with a crunchy bag on your head and lice scampering to survive the oil asphyxiation.

Lice – old friends or gross foe?

About two weeks ago, we were at the park with some school friends.  The mom noticed that my son was itching his head.

“Are you sure he doesn’t have lice?” Her

“No, it’s just eczema.  Besides they checked him at school a month or so back,” I replied, scratching my own head.  “But I may have lice.”

In wonderful so smart I’m dumb fashion, I had been itching my head and the back of my neck for two weeks since our return from camping, worrying in Woody Allen fashion, about strange and cripling diseases that had infected my skin.  It never occurred to me that I could have Lice.  Lice which was going around our school the last 2 months before summer break.  If you’ve read my blog post about the plantars warts and how I spread them all over my foot and finger – you’ll remember the amazing amount of energy I can bring to missing the obvious.

When my friend said that – I suddenly felt a euphoric sense of ‘I’m going to live.’  Upon returning home, my sister in law confirmed that I was indeed hosting lice.  I also had her look at my son’s head – because quite honestly I couldn’t see anything on his head.   And once again she confirmed lice infestation.

Now lice ITCH.  And then knowing that there were bugs on your head, well it made me itch more.  Images of them crawling into my ears and nose and mouth – well it’s enough to push someone over the edge.  And of course, being a girlie girl at heart – I’ve shied away from anything that crawls, squirms, wiggles – and often screamed hysterically while squishing spiders or thousand leggers in the tub.  I’m that bad.  But then again the old apple and tree cliche…

When my mother found out about our newly discovered little buggers – she cast judgement upon us as if we’d been infected with leprosy in the middle ages.  In her mind, we’d brought a scourge into the house.  “But how…  we’re so clean… lice are about being dirty… but he’s in private school…” the argument went.

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Lice (thankfully) does not discriminate against the dirty or clean!

Although there are hygienic practices that can quell or feed spreads of lice.

But, given that my son had gotten this in school, I’m assuming,  he would have to this point potentially been infected for about 3-6 weeks.  I myself had been infected for about 2 – ever since we slept next to each other in the tent camping.

I researched ways to get rid of the lice.  Most involved chemicals (nop – not going there) – and the ones that were ‘natural’ were not recommended for people with asthma (not going there either).  Lice were yukky and itchy and crawly –  but ASTHMA BLOWS.  I decided best approach was to shave his head – not to bald, but close – and then comb him out.  Which is what I did.  All told, after shaving and bathing, I combed out about 35-40 bugs in varying sizes.  Yuk – a potentially robust infestation.  But in the back of my mind, I was somewhat ecstatic that he got lice.  Lice are parasites.  And parasites can be good, especially for those who can use some help in the immune modulating department.  I had even told mothers at school – if your kid gets lice, invite us over – we want lice.  And while I was half-joking, I wasn’t.  Lice seemed like a universally accepted as benign entrance into parasites – low hanging fruit if you will.   But here, without any work on my part – he was infected with lice.

I mean yikes bug after bug after bug squirming on the comb as i ran it over his tightly crewed cut.  But somehow I was very curious if the lice had in any way had a positive effect.

I am a self-admitted neurotic and obsessive person.  And in such style, I had noticed, but hadn’t really thought much of it, that my son’s lips were really nice.  What do I mean by that?   Well for the last year and half, maybe more, he had begun having, according the doctor, perioral eczema.  His lips were dry and cracking, his mouth surrounded by a red aura from lip-licking, itching, scratching, and fiddling.  But since school had let out, I noticed that he wasn’t doing that.  In fact, we’d pretty much gone cold turkey off our vaseline addiction.  His lips were smooth, un-chapped, and sans red aura.  Also, he had some patches of eczema on the fronts of his knees and inner elbows that had diminished since summer’s start.  Initially, I thought – maybe it’s the sun, the warmer weather, the moist weather…. whatever…  I never thought that there could actually be something on/in his body helping him out – like LICE.

After combing my son and myself out – we are now officially lice free.  We have been for a couple weeks.   No more itching.   YAY!  No more itching stigma.  YAY!   But slowly the perioral eczema has crept back in.  BOO!  We’re back on vaseline.  And even some red blotches around meal time have made a reappearance – haven’t seen that in awhile.  BOO!  BOO! and more BOO!  We’ll see what happens with the other patches of eczema – but as of today – the one remaining patch looked a bit more angry – like it did prior to school’s summer dismissal.

I’m not sure if the lice were giving my son some immuno-modulating help or if it’s just coincidence.  Either way, we both agree – we kind of miss the lice and we’re willing to give them a second chance.  There was definite improvement of eczema – and potentially, reduction in asthma symptoms.  But we’d really need another lice infestation to tell if this was just coincidence or actual beneficial effect.   In fact my son said to me this morning, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could have the lice without my head itching!”  “Yes,” I replied.  And so we are again putting our offer out, but this time completely seriously, to all the moms at school that we know “If you get lice please let us know so that we can come over and rub heads with your kid.”

For myself, since I wasn’t going to shave my head I did the following:

Slept with coconut oil slathered, and I mean super-slathered on my hair.  Of course I had a plastic head bag on.  I didn’t sleep much because the itching was sooooo intense.  The next morning I used the Nit Free mousse and comb on myself and I too was lice free.

One month after lice clearing update:

Perioral eczema back in full swing.  My son has a red ring around his mouth where he’s licked, itched, scratched…  While lice has apparently made a reappearance at school, we have not, to my knowledge been reinfected.  Additionally, I’ve found that most people are so conditioned with ‘gross factor’ that they are not willing to share.  It’s too bad really – I guess you can’t appreciate the benign, but annoying, until you’ve watched your child get breathing treatments and steroids in the ER.

Lice Cons:

Itching – and all that goes with itching

Potential to pass to others not interested in having lice

Lice Potential Pros:

Lice Can Be Nice To Us: Louse Infestation Calibrates Immune System Regulation

“Parasite infestations might have a good side. Wild mice from a Nottinghamshire forest have given experts clues as to the importance of some parasites, such as lice, for the conditioning of a “natural” immune system….”

Immunomodulatory parasites and toll-like receptor-mediated tumour necrosis factor alpha responsiveness in wild mammals

“Analogy with relevant laboratory models suggests the underlying causality for the observed patterns may be parasite-driven immunomodulatory effects on the host. A subset of immunomodulatory parasite species could thus have a key role in structuring other infections in natural vertebrate populations by affecting the ‘upstream’ innate mediators, like toll-like receptors, that are important in initiating immunity. Furthermore, the magnitude of the present result suggests that populations free from immunosuppressive parasites may exist at ‘unnaturally’ elevated levels of innate immune activation, perhaps leading to an increased risk of immunopathology….”

Could lice prevent asthma?

…”The study, published in the BioMed Central journal BMC Biology, adds to evidence supporting the so-called hygiene hypothesis, which holds that the rise in asthma and allergies can be linked to hyper-clean living….”


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