Nits. I never in a million years thought I would be writing about them on my blog. But for the last few months, we have been plagued by the little buggers, and when I say plagued it is not an exaggeration. (Well it may be a little bit of an exaggeration, but you get the gist).
It all started in September. My kids had managed to reach the grand ages of 4 and 5, escaping the peril of head lice. Then Gabriel began year 1 and Willow, Reception at primary school. Within just a few days I noticed some persistent head-scratching. I checked their heads, first of all, there seemed to be nothing. then I saw some slight movement from something I like to call ‘King Louse’ UGH. Yep, there’s a big one that starts the ball rolling, likely the first to inhabit the head, laying eggs all over the hair after breeding, feeding off the scalp (causing the itch) and before you know it, there are hundreds of them. See the cycle below for more information, if you want to see some photographs of actual lice, check out Google images, I do not want them on my blog!
Gah! Where was my Mother when I needed her? I wasn’t adult enough to deal with such things, surely? But off I went to the pharmacy to ponder the array of lotions and potions on sale to rid of these rank little lice from my children’s hair. As a novice, it’s pretty overwhelming. Lots of lotions, shampoos, mousses and creams. Then there’s the natural stuff, not forgetting the traditional tiny combing method. I opted for lotions, it seemed the easiest choice and the pharmacist suggested that was the best, most reliable treatment.
I headed home and mentally prepared myself. I don’t like insects really and the thought of them being in the kid’s hair OR my hair made me shudder. I soon realised though, as much as the moving head lice are disgusting, the real problem are the eggs. They stick to the hair like glue and once the head is treated, you have to re treat a few days later to make sure none of the eggs have survived the chemical apocalypse you created. How can something so small be so tenacious?
After the ordeal was over, we got on with our lives. Until the following Friday. More itching, more lice. This happened on repeat and for the next few months,from September until the Christmas school holidays, head lice pestered our home, continuously. I class myself as a patient parent.. but I will be honest here, I became pretty pissed off. You see, for me, when I have a problem, logically I think about my end goal and take steps to get there. I am pragmatic. Sure, I get that kids sometimes have head lice, I get that they are harmless really and I get that it’s a common problem, but nine occasions in 8 weeks, becomes tiresome and arduous.
Here are my main gripes with head lice infestations:
* They are rank. Of course they are, they are blood sucking lice that feed on your scalp, breed in your hair and make you feel, disgusting.
* It’s expensive. Each time we had lice it cost me between £15-18. (I have loads of hair and need a whole bottle just for myself!) The lotions smell, they’re oily (watch your step, I learnt the hard way..) and your kids will cry when it runs into their eyes. As will you.
* Chemical treatments, oils, tea tree & conditioner, combing, vinegar rinses etc. Whatever your flow- it’s time-consuming! I work, I collect the kids from after school club, we sometimes don’t get home until after 630 pm. I simply don’t have time to be treating head lice every night. My precious pre-bedtime hour with the kids became jaded, and they hated me for it!
and finally, I share with you my biggest issue…
* WHY THE FUCK AREN’T SOME PARENTS/GUARDIANS/CARERS NOTICING THEIR CHILDREN HAVE HEAD LICE???
Surely, after a few days infestation, this becomes some sort of neglect issue??
Anyway, I have decided to put to some good to my frustrations and share with you my top tips for dealing with and avoiding the nits coming to stay at your home. So here we go:
1. Where possible, tie hair up, or clip it away from your child’s face/shoulders. Sure kids, hug, play fight and sit closely together but it’s worth trying your best to avoid an infestation. Remember that nits cannot fly, jump or swim.. they CRAWL. *Shudder*
2. Buy a head lice deterrent spray (I found a great one in Home Bargains for about £1.50) and USE IT daily. Alternatively, make a home-made mix of conditioner, water and tea tree essential oil and spray it onto hair. Apparently, nits HATE tea tree?
3. If like me, you don’t want to deal with combing endless nits and eggs from your kid’s hair, choose a treatment like Hedrin treatment, rather than the shampoo versions. No combing required. The treatments dehydrate the lice (BLEUGH) but then they wash out easily.
4. REPEAT the treatment. Whichever you use. This is very important, because if you don’t they WILL return, and you my friend are back to square one again.
5. Talk to your school/nursery/childminder/friends about your infestation. Yes it’s disgusting but you will not be judged. It’s important others are told so they can treat the problem too. You will probably find your school’s policy is to send a standard letter home to everyone in that class. Usually, they are not permitted to check children’s hair or speak directly to parents. (I could rant about this, but I won’t) but suppose you just have to hope that parents will check their own child’s hair on receipt of such letters.
6. And finally, whether you receive a letter or not. Whether someone tells you your kids may have head lice, or not. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE check your kid’s hair regularly anyway. It’s definitely worth it because trust me, whole family bathroom head lice parties are really not much fun.
*DISCLAIMER: I take no responsibility for making your head itch*
If you require any further information on head lice, please check out the NHS information page here