Any parent with young children has a visceral reaction to the word lice. When you receive that dreaded note home, the one that says someone in your child's class has lice, you fly into a low-key panic and become extra vigilant because: "OMG! What if my kid has lice?!"
The reality of the situation, however, is that they're not actually a menace. According to HealthyChildren.org, a website from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), lice don't cause serious illness or carry disease. So while there may be social stigma attached to lice in the same way lice attach to a child's hair, the truth is that lice can happen to anyone with hair. Dirty hair, clean hair, rich hair, poor hair, curly hair, straight hair: any hair can provide a home to head lice.
Anyone who suspects their child might have lice should see a doctor to be sure, according to the AAP, and to obtain proper instruction (and potentially prescriptions) on how to deal with the problem, which can be facilitated at home. And while your kid may think this means they get a little vacation from going to school, the AAP states that while some schools have policies that keep children with lice out of the classroom, both the AAP and the National Association of School Nurses disagree with these policies, since lice are typically only spread from close, prolonged head-to-head contact. Casual contact, like sharing a hat or brush with another child, is unlikely to spread lice.
But while they may be harmless and unlikely to casually spread, the fact remains: lice are a nightmare. If your child is diagnosed, you will likely go through the following familiar steps of terror and sorrow: