The month of September brings many changes; the days don’t seem as long, the leaves begin to turn and it starts getting darker earlier. The rush of morning routines and racing against the clock are back in place for most families.

It’s time to start having serious talks again, about homework, about staying safe, about getting along. But there is one thing that no one likes to talk about. It’s a subject that pretty much disgusts us and makes us feel ashamed when it’s ‘our turn’ even though we are not to blame. Most parents come across it sooner or later, especially during the school year. It’s not just an issue that affects untidy people as assumed. It’s an issue that develops because when children are together, they play, they hug and they wear each other’s caps and jackets. They are in close contact a lot of the time.

And once it starts so does the finger pointing. These intruders don’t discriminate. And it’s not a matter of cleanliness. They simply hitch a ride from one host to another. By now I assume you know that I could only be talking about two things. The two things that make anyone who has to deal with it want to scream; the unwanted visit of Lice or Bed Bugs.

I never experience lice as a child. So when a friend called to tell me that her child had been invaded by lice a week after she had been in our home for a sleep over I went crazy, without letting her know of course.  After gaining myself control I was glad that she was considerate enough to call. I hear some people keep quit out of shame. I’ve even heard that some parents have kept their children home from school under false pretenses and not informed the school for fear of their child being ostracized. Parents can act a bit hysterical because they are simply ill informed.  

We didn’t panic. My husband and I did some research. We checked our daughter’s head, then our son and then each other.  I removed all the sheets from all the beds, all the stuffed animals from their room and I even removed all the pillows from the sofa. I put everything in the dryer thru three cycles of the highest temperature.

It was a heart wrenching experience but we got thru it. The lesson learned was that lice does not get on your child’s head because it’s dirty. It transported itself there from another host. We were lucky to have found only four soapiest white dots and we took care of it before it got out of control.  Her friend was not so lucky, she and her mother had to treated by a professional.

A Few Takeaways on Lice

Fist, it is important that you and your friends be honest if a child has been exposed and be compassionate about the situation. Lice happens. And it is better to deal with it early.  Secrecy only exacerbates an outbreak.

Second, check your child’s head at least three times a week to make sure that they are not bringing home lice from school. Yes it is a nuisance, but it’s the only way to prevent the invasion.

Lastly, if you have lost the battle you can find Lice medication over the counter at your local drug store. I was told that the smell of the medication is quite friendly now, for in the pass the smell from the chemicals was atrocious.  So there is a bright side!

Another Unspoken Issue

Bed bugs are another other unspoken and unspeakable issue. They can hitch a ride on your kid’s clothes, or on luggage if you or your husband travel for work.  And if any of your neighbors have them you have to be super vigilant. In NYC you can become a veritable social outcast if your home has been infested with bedbugs. So the best cure in this case is prevention.

The best way to protect your home is by purchasing a bed bug cover for each bed.  If by any change the bugs make it pass your door, at least your mattresses have been protected.  If you live in a private building discuss the issue with management, most management companies are aware of the issue and most have an exterminator they already work with. Also be aware that some buildings will pick up the bill for exterminating for they are trying to prevent the spread of these invaders to the rest of the building.

A Few Takeaways on Bedbugs

The bed bug dilemma is not a problem you can solve on your own. So if you suspect your home has been exposed it’s best to put vanity aside and ask for help. The longer it takes to handle the situation the harder it will become to completely eliminate the problem.

Bedbugs hate heat so if you think that your children or your neighbors have come in contact them wash everything you can in hot water and run it on high in the dryer.  It’s better to play it safe because getting rid of them is not easy.

Marlene Pratt is the co-founder of Casa Latina, an interior designer and on-air television host on both English and Spanish-language television. Follow Marlene on Twitter at @CasaLatinaToday and Like her FB page

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