Lice is a four-letter word – Stacey Hatton

Special to The Star

September 14, 2015

I need to air my recent grievance to the public. Truly, I try to be the wine-glass-is-half-full type of gal, but I had a bomb dropped on me that brought out the cynic in my Syrah.

There is no way to sugarcoat my woe. In fact, I’m pretty sure I would prefer a root canal than wish this on my worst enemy. At least there are drugs that can help you get through mouth surgery. I’d rather have an endless laundry pile rather than experience this again.

Wait, I take that last one back. That’s partially what’s been causing my panic attacks.

Just rip off the Band-Aid and spit it out…

We had lice. Parasites. An infestation, if you will. The secret L-bomb!

Never before have I so vehemently practiced sterile technique, and I’ve worked in a children’s hospital.

If you’ve never experienced these little bugs from hell, you will. I hate to be the bearer of horrific news, but it’s inevitable. Either your kids or your grandkids will drop off these itchy nuggets while you’re watching reruns of “All in the Family” in your comfy living room recliner — and those suckers will latch onto your hair follicles and (shh!) re-pro-duce.

Oh, yes, I’m sure many of you were like me. “I’m too clean to get lice,” I boasted. “They are for peasants and Third World country dwellers!” Well, I’m here to tell you my clean head and various princess heads in the neighborhood have never itched so badly. This pest war has entered my suburb and I’m ticked!

After much personal research and costly visits to the “experts,” I am a professional louse executioner. I might even start up a lice removal version of those Stella and Dot jewelry or Jamberry home parties.

The reason why I’m jumping on my tea tree oil box is it is about time we stop shaming our kids. I want to break through today’s social barriers and go all “Norma Rae” about kicking the stigma to the curb. I’ll be yelling it from the rooftops, from church steps and various factory union meetings — whatever it takes to get my message out.

Lice is not a four-letter word! (Waits for applause.)

OK, maybe it is, but shouldn’t we be able to discuss infestation outside of school nurse room curtains and dark alleyways? What’s so shameful about having bugs taking residence on your noggin? I agree it’s gross, but shaming others is unjust. If you are brave enough to discuss it with friends, you will find out that about every house in your ZIP code has experienced the insanity that comes with the territory.

Especially now that there are teenaged-mutant lice running rampant in many states. The stories are plastered across all media. These buggers are resistant to over-the-counter drugs. They have built up such resistance to old-school treatment, that everyone’s going to have them. It’s the new fad.

“Did you hear? Becky’s family has lice.”

“No! I’m so jealous! You know that lice is the new black stink bug.”

“Yes, it’s all over Facebook!”

Maybe lice infestation isn’t pleasurable. Unless you have some twisted love affair with washing every fabric item in your house, vacuuming daily for three weeks, or twice a day picking nits out of your loved one’s tresses.

But can’t we give lice a break? Nits happen. Deal with it, stop the blaming and quit laughing at the downtrodden.

And remember, paybacks are an itch.

This article originally appeared in the Kansas City Star.



Stacey Hatton is a New York Times best-selling author, blogger, mother and head slapper. She can be reached at or her blog,

Head Lice Should Be a Topic of Conversation, Not a Secret

Head Lice! These tiny little bugs can cause shame, guilt and embarrassment for many parents. Not to mention the panic and frustration of getting it out of your child’s hair.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 6 to 12 million infestations occur each year in the United States.

Parents in the community can give one another a better chance at beating or preventing head lice by talking about it and spreading the word. Head lice have excellent hiding and reproductive skills, and we add to their skills by being secretive about their presence on our heads. We have to talk about lice in order to work them out of our social circles faster.

Once you share with others about having lice, it is likely others will open up and start sharing how they battled it too. Sharing your struggle, successes and failures with treatment will help others. Let’s build awareness throughout the community, stop blaming and start talking! Having proper information about head lice prevention and treatment helps everyone and controls the spread of head lice.

Suggestions for parents:

Parents of children with head lice: Find a safe and effective treatment.  Talk about it, let everyone know in your social circles that they have been exposed to head lice. Encourage them to get checked and treated. And please, talk to teachers and school nurses, so they can be aware that a lice infestation is present in the school. Most important, tell your kids that anyone can get lice – it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Parents notified about head lice: Don’t be mad, be thankful you have been informed and start checking your kids for lice.  Knowing your child has been exposed to lice leads to both prevention and early treatment. Immediate and thorough comb-outs can mean catching the one and only louse. This is much better than treating the whole family a week later.

Being secretive and shameful about head lice does not help anyone. In fact, it only helps head lice continue to spread.  Heartland Healthy Heads advocates for ending the stigma associated with head lice.  Join our #BeLiceFreeInKC initiative today by calling Heartland Healthy Heads at 913-730-6487 or