I know, the first thing you may have done when you read the word “lice” is cringe or start scratching yourself out of paranoia. If you didn’t, then you either have been through the whole, draining ordeal that is lice infestation or you are just one of the odd ones out.

Wait, isn’t lice infestation something that is only supposed to happen to kids? Sadly not. It is the most common with children, yes, but it can still happen anyone. College dorms and housing can also be culprits. Between sharing beds, that couch that is always passed down, and/or sharing hair brushes, hats and towels, there are ways you might catch lice at some point if at all during your college career. It can happen to anybody, even if it may not be likely to happen to you.

The reason why I am writing this article that is making your paranoia rise is that my roommate and I had a lice scare last week. In the case of a lice emergency, it’s very likely to panic and Google what you might be able to do. Sometimes Google doesn’t do you justice during your state of panic, and then your Resident Advisor(s) don’t/doesn’t have a policy or action plan to deal with students with lice. So after my week of paranoia and research, I feel like I can actually be helpful and help direct you in how to go about this terrible situation that you may be in.

Do you think you have head lice? These are the signs you need to check off:

  • Your scalp itches like crazy and you can't stop scratching
  • Small, red bumps on the scalp, neck, and shoulders (bumps may become crusty and ooze)
  • Tiny white specks (eggs, or nits) on the bottom of each hair those are hard to get off. This is the main factor on deciding whether you have lice or if it’s just dandruff (this is what got my roommate and I): dandruff is dry, flaky skin from your scalp and it comes off when you brush it out. Nits stick to your hair like glue and takes way more effort to get them off/out.

If you think you check out for head lice, take a couple of deep breaths and keep on reading.

Please note that I go to a University in the city and I live in the dorm system. I recommend you alter these procedures to your situation.

1.Call your RA. I know at least at my school, in every hall there is an RA on Duty at all times. Call them, tell them your situation and ask what you should do. If they have a policy/action plan for you, follow that.

2. Depending on what time of day it is, go to the school’s health center/nurse and get checked out immediately. If you go to them during the hours that they are open and you check out for lice, they will give you further instructions from there.

3. It’s the middle of the night, what am I supposed to do? You can do a couple of things: a) if you’re paranoia isn’t that terrible, you can attempt to sleep through the night and go to your school’s health center first thing in the morning. Or b) Get to work on fixing the (potential) problem: put your hair up (if it is long enough), strip all your bedding, throw all your hats and possibly infected clothes and fabrics in the wash on high heat and then in the hot dryer as well.

While that’s going, go to the nearest convenience or drug store in search of lice killing shampoo and a special comb (that will usually come with the lice killing shampoo). Follow the instructions on the lice killing shampoo and go through the whole process. Warning: the longer the hair, the worse the process will be.

4. While the shampoo sits in your hair, if you are able to, disinfect and clean everything. No matter what, you will need to disinfect and clean everything. The easiest way to do this is with disinfecting wipes. Wipe down everything. If you haven’t thrown your comb/hair brush out yet, soak it in anti-lice shampoo, disinfectant or rubbing alcohol for an hour. Put clothes and fabric items that cannot be washed in a sealed plastic bag for 2 weeks before dry-cleaning them. Vacuum your floor (for any hairs that may found its way to the floor).

5. Visit a doctor or your health center first thing in the morning. Tell them what happened, what the situation is and what you have done so far in terms of clean up and disinfection. Even if it may not have been lice at all, it’s still better to be safe than sorry.

ALL of your roommates should get checked out for lice, even if they do not think they have any. If you are not sure if you have lice or not, go get checked out by a doctor immediately. When it comes to lice, or the possibility of lice, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

For further information and help, please check out these links:

https://www.virginiamason.org/body.cfm?id=1215&action=detail&aearticleid=000840&aeproductid=adam2004_117

https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/