If you’re a parent, you’ve probably gotten the dreaded call from the school nurse, letting you know that your child has lice. It happened to our older daughter in kindergarten, and then again two years later when our youngest was in the same grade. Each head lice infestation was a mini nightmare: a work and school day lost to early pickup, chemical shampoos, vacuuming and endless combing for nits (eggs). The days after, spent worrying that a stray louse might mean another call from the nurse and another day out of school. And that call always came: Your daughter has lice again. She’ll be waiting for you in the office. Last year, we spent a couple hundred dollars on a professional lice remover, just because we could no longer face the hours every night we needed to spend nit-picking.
Our experience was not uncommon (though not everyone is crazy enough to call Lice Happens’ 24-hour “LiceLine”). At many schools, any discovery of live lice in a child’s hair warrants a phone call and the immediate removal of the child from school. At some schools, the child may return the next day if the parents have treated the child’s hair — that is, shampooed it to kill live lice. But in schools with “no-nit” policies, a child can’t return unless every last tiny louse egg has been combed from her hair — and schools may check returning students and send them home if any nits are found.