We recently held a Twitter Chat on @ChildsFarm, and one hot topic that came up was how to deal with nits without having to douse everyone in the family with stinking chemicals which make you look like you’ve washed your hair in chip fat!
So, we have put together a hit list of how to get rid of the critters safely, and effectively, leaving lovely lush locks at the end of it.
Firstly though, a bit about nits. They are not fussy about who they visit, and clean or dirty, rich or poor, they will move into your hair without any qualms. When I was at junior school, there was a poster on the back of the piano with two children sitting next to each other, heads touching, with the caption:
‘It’s a touching moment, and a head lice finds a new home.’ Now, I left that school in 1981, and I still have that image drilled into my head. We were TERRIFED of getting nits,because of the whole stigma attached to it.
These days, the stigma is attached to the parents who DON”T treat their children, who then continue to re-infect the class because their parents can’t be bothered or are too ignorant to deal with it. Harsh? No. As parents we have many responsibilities, and dealing with nits quickly and effectively is one of them.
At my kids school, if you have nits you are excluded until they are gone. And I tell you, there is hardly ever an occurence of nits there. Another popular school near by doesn’t even inform parents that there is a nit break out at school, but they find out soon enough. Like so many things – limping to work with a filthy cold, going to a dinner party with raging tonsillitis – it’s just plain selfish.
So, let me train you to be the most angelic of parents, the most loved in your school, and fiend to all unwelcome pets!
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
1. Check your child at least once or twice a week for nits. Signs like scratching and a raw neck, are clear giveaways. Areas to look at are where it’s warm – so behind the ears, and the nape of the neck. Easiest time to do this is when you wash their hair.
2. You are looking for:
i) Sesame seed sized white/ yellow eggs which are attached to the hair.
ii) Browny-grey lice which are the size of a match head. They move at some speed!
iii) Have a look at this episode of Embarrasing Bodies to see what they look like and what you are looking for – dare you not to itch!
UNDERSTANDING THE LIFECYCLE OF LICE
- The first lice that arrives will lay eggs. So, find eggs, there will be a mummy in there somewhere. The clock starts ticking once the eggs are laid. An adult lice will lay up to 10 eggs a day, which take 7-12 days to hatch. So, the number of eggs (nits) that you find, should tell you how long she has been there. Once they have hatched, it’s another 9-12 days before they are adult, and then start laying more eggs.
- It’s important to know all of this when it comes to the clean up – there will be things that you can’t wash, so knowing that you have to squirrel them away until every critter is dead is vital.
- Lice comb. Nitty Gritty combs are currently on offer, and have a lifetime guarantee. I would suggest getting two because these things tend to disappear.
- A wide tooth comb / detangling brush. We use Denman’s Tangle Tamer here, because it is just marvellous and getting our tangles. Denman also do a Be-bop brush, which we love as the girls use it as they are washing their hair, and comb the conditioner through when they are in the bath. It makes they hair fabulously smooth. It will also break the back legs of an adult louse – if they have no legs, they cannot lay eggs. Why do I know this? My mother told us. Perhaps this was to make us brush our hair really really well, but we NEVER had nits, and, touch wood, neither have my children.
- A very good children’s conditioner. Please don’t use an adult one. Kids do not need the chemicals that smooth or volumise your hair – use a specific children’s conditioner, which has no parabens, SLS’s or mineral oils in, but also really works. Childs Farms’ Tame that Mane! Conditioner for unruly hair, ticks all these boxes, and we KNOW it works when you undertake to do this job!
- Loo roll
- Paper or plastic bag. This is going to be used to put the lice/ eggs which you have wiped on the loo roll. Use plastic is you are putting it in the bin (NOT for recycling though) and paper if you have an open fire or wood burning stove you can put it all on.
- A towel
- Lots of yummy snacks & drinks to hand for your victim. Try to make this fun!
- A decent and favoured telly program – for them, not you. This will not work if you are engrossed in a meaty episode of Broadchurch. Distraction is the name of the game here, so suck it up even if it means half an hour of Ben 10.
- Once you have identified an infected person, check everyone else in the house too. Once you know how many you have to treat, plan how you are going to undertake this in light of the following:
i) All bed linen from every infected person will need to be washed
ii) All nightware, towels etc will need to be washed
iii) All teddies that sleep in beds will need to be washed, or if that isn’t possible, sent on holiday in a plastic bag for a few days to your freezer to let everything to die off.
iv) Your car will need a very good Hoover.
v) As will sofas, chairs, cushions.
vi) Have a bin bag for all the infected stuff that will need to be washed – this keeps it all away from non-infected items, and keeps everything contained.
- Alert schools as early as possible that you have uninvited guests, so they can take the appropriate action.
- Get all your equipment out
- Get your victim(s) and sit them down infront of the telly.
- Pop a towel around their shoulders, and liberally apply conditioner to hair. You cannot use enough here. Comb through the hair with wide toothed comb or detangle brush, removing all the tangles. This is vital as the nit comb teeth are tiny.
- Partition long hair, so you can work your way through the head, leaving no area untouched.
- As you comb through the hair from the roots, wipe the comb clean after each run on the loo roll, and put in the bag. Be brave!
- Once you have done the whole head, go through it again – you don’t want to miss anything.
- Feed treats as required!
- Once you have done everyone – including yourself, so get a friend involved too if required – it’s time for a shower and hair wash.
- Wash all the towels you have used, dress victims in clean clothes, get rid of the bag of nasties, and have a well earned cuppa.
- Check your child every day for a week following treatment, and if necessary, go through the process again.
- Advise the school that you have all been ‘done’, and make sure they have informed all other parents.
- Let all other friends know so that they can take appropriate action.
This may seem onerous, but this is the most effective and most natural way to get rid of lice, and if it’s made fun, will not be held against you!
There are many natural essential oils that have qualities that lice don’t like, such as tea tree and rosemary. They are however very strong, and may not be as child friendly as they could be.
Good hair brushing, and regular checking will keep them at bay so be vigilant, and get the buy-in from your school to make sure there is a clear action plan for head lice in place. Things like gym mats need to be cleaned if there is a case of nits, other wise they will keep re-infecting kids.
Unfortunately though, reinfection is usually from a child that has not been treated, inevitable because the parents haven’t checked their kids, or believe they simply won’t get nits. Anyone can get them, and it is our collective responsibility to treat our children. And ourselves. And, I’m sorry to say, our husbands.
SORE MARKS ON THE NECK
WHITE SEED LIKE THINGS IN THE HAIR
Get to it!