- Kids Health
Nits! Head lice! Nightmare! Get Rid of Nits With No Stress...
Pediculus humanus capitis (Head Louse)!
Nits and head lice have long been a horror for me. In primary school a case of nits meant a shaved head: visions of concentration camps. I had long braids of fair fine hair that fell below my waist, so the potential shame and degradation of having my tresses chopped off to reveal my naked skull was a nightmare of mammoth proportions. Oh, save me from this scourge of pestilence!
Occasionally my children bring home notes from school informing me that there has been a case of head lice and I should check my boys’ scalps. Well, I simply never thought my children would catch the nits. I mean, aren’t they clean kids? And their hair is short. Surely we are safe. Er... well...
Last weekend after a footy game I noticed my younger son scratching his head while chatting with his team mates. Then I saw him scratch his head again… and again! He has a shock of thick blonde hair – a fashionable long fringe that sweeps over his brow. He scratched again. An idea vaguely stirred in my consciousness: could… it… be… NITS?!
I let the concept brood for a couple of days. Then I sucked in some courage and on Tuesday after dinner I put on my spectacles and stood my son under the light. Carefully parting the hair at the nape of his neck… I saw little black dots and some white dots and then… a moving thing. I caught it and poised it on the end of my finger. “What is this? What does it look like?” My son studied it and pronounced confidently, “It’s a tick!” “Well, it’s not a tick”, I muttered. “But it is of the same “family” of insects. I think it’s a louse.” He leapt enthusiastically to his feet and Googled images of head lice. “That’s it!” he proclaimed as he pointed to a photograph of an evil louse.
Oh my golly gosh! My son has head lice! The scourge of my childhood had finally caught up with me: my own flesh and blood, my precious child has nits!
What?! My child?!
This article is for all the louse loathers who may feel horror, panic and revulsion at the thought of head lice nesting in a head of hair that is precious and dear to their hearts.
… because it really isn’t so scary. Here’s what I did next:
I sat down and Googled to learn about head lice and nits. And I made some comparatively innocuous discoveries that I’d like to share with the uninitiated:
- Head lice are the crawlies that lay eggs. Nits are the eggs which are laid on the shafts of hair. The nits stick like glue. The lice move around.
- Head lice are quite partial to clean hair. Well, how’s about that? I had harboured and festered the idea that lice preferred to latch on and hatch in dirty only people’s hair – you know, the scummy, grubby vagrant types who don’t know what soap smells like.
- Head lice don't live for more than two days away from a human head. If you exterminate all crawlies, you just need to make sure no eggs have hatched after 7 days.
- There are plenty of products available nowadays that will kill head lice as well as the nits they produce. Thanks be to Science: there was no need to shave off my son’s hair.
Head Lice Life Cycle
Finding the Solution
The chemist was closed for the evening, so our de-lousing session would have to wait for the next day. I tucked my precious boy and his partying lice into bed, confident that the clean pillowcase he rested his head on would not be contaminated forever and that I would not have to burn all the bedclothes. I went to sleep.
In the morning, I woke with an awareness that something Big was going to happen today… Yes! that’s right - the main event: to exterminate head lice and nits. I went to my job. At 2.30pm I remembered, “I’m going to buy some lice killer this afternoon.” On my way home I began to feel faint – sick in the stomach – but I fortified my soul and held my head high. I was going to beat this thing.
…and it wasn’t so bad. Here’s what I did next:
I purchased a bottle of “Full Marks”
Now, I’m not going to say that this is the only product to use. It is simply the one I decided to get because it only needs to be left in the hair for 10 minutes and it comes with a special de-lousing comb.
The best part about choosing which product to buy was the relaxed, friendly and helpful attitude of the shop assistant and chemist. He had used the product on his own two daughters’ long hair and did not need to use it a second time. He explained that the product suffocates both the head lice and the nits so that they are all dead after only 10 minutes. That sounded dead-set final to me.
Essential Tool: A Nit Comb!
Applying the product involved sitting with my son for an hour-and-a-half – a rare and delightful opportunity to have with a teenager!
The product was very easy to rub into and over my son’s head of hair. He was casually un-phased by the whole process. It didn’t seem to bother him at all that he had head lice and nits (guess it’s so commonplace these days – not at all the nightmare horror of my childhood). He simply wanted the pests to be gone and casually subjected himself to my steady, systematic combing.
We could both feel the nit lumps being scraped off strands of hair and I kept on combing through until there were no little lice eggs left – all smooth. Dead lice floated in the bowl of water where I regularly dipped the nit comb – altogether, a satisfying process.
And it was pleasant to have such a docile boy. We chatted for a while. I think he dozed a little. Then he read his latest book.
Finally! He washed his hair. He was happy: no more itchiness, just lovely clean hair – minus the busy parasites.
The four things I’ve learned and want to communicate from this experience:
- Do not be afraid of the unknown! When the note comes home from school – check the kids’ heads. Lice like clean heads and short hair is just as good as long hair;
- Do not panic or feel ashamed to discover the child is an unwitting host of head lice – the pesky mites aren’t picky or choosy about whose hairstyle they set up house in;
- Do not be embarrassed to ask for advice. The chemist understands, is not grossed out and will sell what works – he wants a happy customer back at his shop to spend more money;
- Enjoy the easy triumph when the last dead louse is scraped off the last shaft of hair.
Stress less - those nits will be gone quick. Here’s "cheers" to healthy heads of hair and time to enjoy the pleasures of life: shiny soft locks, carefree kids and a victory to celebrate. Relax!!