The Only Time I've Wanted To Shave Someone's Head. Carefully.
But I'm not really recommending this. Not because you wouldn't look good with a shaved head (I think you would probably look great) but because shaving your head is a very drastic response to a problem that is usually easily remedied with a few combings over a couple of weeks. The time put into a bit of lice combing is significantly shorter than the time needed to grow your hair back.
However, there was one time that I wish I could have shaved a head.
I was asked to do lice removal on a wonderful woman who had long beautiful hair. Her hair was her crown, her glory - she was so proud of her hair. She had a really bad case of head lice; the kind that makes you think she has had it for years. From far away her hair was lovely but as soon as you got close, you could see rows and rows of dark brown lice, bug upon bug. It wasn't the worst case of head lice I had seen but it was clear that her head lice would not be dealt with in just a couple of combings. And as I started, it was also clear that her problem was bigger than expected.
Her head was one big scab. Months, maybe years, of bites and scratching had left her head inflamed and infected. Puss oozed from the sores and every time I touched her head, she flinched with pain. I told her she needed to see a doctor. She refused and demanded that I comb which I did. I tried to be as gentle as possible but it was clear that she was very uncomfortable. As I continued, I noticed that the glands in her neck were swollen. I asked her if she had any other unusual symptoms besides itching and she told me she had regular chills and body aches. She wasn't sleeping well and had no energy. I told her I felt she was having an allergic reaction to the lice and that her scalp looked infected. This concerned me because I knew she also had other conditions that compromised her health. I explained my concerns but she wouldn't see a doctor. Maybe she didn't want anyone else to know about her head lice. Maybe she was afraid that the doctor would tell her to cut her hair. Either way, she was adamant that she would be fine with a bit of lice combing.
Because her scalp was in pain, she could not handle the combing for very long. I gave her my lice comb and told her that she needed to comb her hair daily, as much as she could handle, and reiterated her need for medical attention. She refused to see the doctor and had me come to her home for one more short visit the following week which was not enough to complete the lice removal process. I asked her if she had used the lice comb. She said she had been too tired to do the combing. I told her she absolutely had to see a doctor. She again refused. I suggested she shave her head to get rid of the lice and allow her scalp to heal. She got upset. I did what I could that day but there were no more follow up visits.
Head lice are not normally a health issue. They are an annoyance. But the wounds caused by this woman's scratching became infected and her body started reacting to the infection and all the saliva and feces they left there by hundreds of lice. As I have said before, there are things much worse than head lice. Please, never let the stigma of head lice or the pride of your appearance keep you from getting the help you need. If your head lice has been going on for months or years, you should get support. Talk to a friend or family member. Find a trusted professional. And if you are having any symptoms besides a bit of itching, please talk to a doctor.
Posted by Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady.