Should Head Lice Be Stigmatized?

With the school session in full swing, many parents are anxious about getting the dreaded phone call from school informing them that their kid has lice. While schools are pretty conscientious about head lice prevention, many don’t address the other side of head lice: the shame. There’s a lot of stigma and shame attached to the word lice.

The Stigma of Lice

Those who have been unlucky enough to have contracted head lice will be no strangers to the accompanying feelings of guilt. As soon as you suspect you have lice, the feelings of shame and disgust follow. Kids feel like they’re responsible somehow, that they’ve contracted head lice because they are “unclean” or “dirty.” This is not only a major hit to their self-esteem, they also will start avoiding their friends and family as well as isolating themselves from others. The self-stigma is not in a vacuum. People will actively make those who have head lice feel like a pariah. People who’ve had the misfortune of contracting lice are ostracized by peers and are made to feel like an outcast. This social stigma can lead to even bigger dangers: lice-triggered bullying and overwhelming emotional distress.

Overcoming the Lice-Related Social Stigma

Overcoming the Lice-Related Social Stigma It’s important to understand that anyone can get head lice and that it’s not a shameful thing if you have it. In fact, contracting head lice is no different from catching a cold, they’re both that common.

Spreading Awareness

One way to remove the stigma surrounding lice is by educating yourself and spreading more awareness about lice to others. The more you know about it, the better equipped you will be to deal with it. Parents and children both should know that while lice are a nuisance, they’re not dangerous.

Educate, Don’t Hate!

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