McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

July 31, 2013

Letter to Editor by Penny M. Warner, RN, NE-BC

From submitted reports
Submitted report

McALESTER — Editor:


I just read the incredibly sad story about the child with head lice. I am an RN and owner of a professional head lice removal franchise. I would just like to weigh in on this if I may.

I do not know this mother, I do not know her history with her children. What I do know is that a family dealing with a chronic lice problem will sometimes go to extremes to get rid of head lice. These are not bad parents, these are desperate parents. They have typically tried every OTC product (which lice have become resistant to), every home remedy they have ever read about (which usually just makes a mess and is not effective), even tried prescription treatments (again, lice are becoming resistant to these as well). They have cleaned and bagged everything in their home because everyone and almost all internet information will tell them to do this – 95 percent of environmental cleaning is completely unnecessary. And despite all their efforts, their child still has lice. I guarantee you that somewhere on the internet she read about the gasoline treatment. I had a college-educated mom who lived in a very affluent area of Houston actually try this remedy as well. Fortunately, her child was not harmed; yet the child still had lice even after this. Hence, she ends up in my office to be treated. I had a very long discussion with this mother about the hazards of gasoline as a lice treatment.

Unfortunately, this happens more than I care to count. There is actually a prescription treatment that is highly flammable as well. There was a recent incident where a mother had put this on her child and it was the child’s birthday. She leaned over to blow out her birthday candles and her hair caught on fire and she suffered 3rd-degree burns on her face. People need to understand that lice have no ill health effects – it’s all this garbage they put on themselves that cause the harm, not the lice.

If the mother you wrote about was just truly desperate as so many other parents are, it would break my heart to see her go to jail simply because she just did not know what to do anymore.

I do want to thank you for writing this article. My hope is that many parents will read it and learn from this mother’s poor judgment. Hopefully, it wills save a child from the same fate.

Penny M. Warner, RN, NE-BC

Lives in Houston and is President/CEO of The Lice Place