*Beware… This post might make you itch!*
We are almost at the end of the first term of school and I’m about to tell you a tale about something that happened very early in the first weeks of this school year. It’s taken me this long to write about it because I really needed to put some distance between me and the traumatic event. And I’m not exaggerating- it was that traumatic!
So there I was, early one school morning, brushing my daughter’s hair, when she remarked that her head was itchy. Truth be told, she had mentioned it before and I hadn’t really thought much about it – I just assumed that she hadn’t rinsed her her properly after washing. She’s a big girl now and I mostly leave her to do her own ablutions and just check in on what’s happening behind the ears now and then. She also generally ties her hair up herself and it’s only when she wants to do something special, that I get involved. Well this was one @ those days. She mentioned the itchiness and I parted her mass of long brown hair and took a closer look. And there it was… Although I had never seen one before, it was unmistakable. A creepy crawly creature, about the size of a sesame seed, hanging out in my daughter’s hair. She had lice.
My heart sank and I wanted to cry. I didn’t because I didn’t want to freak her out, but I just knew, from the mother grapevine, what a nightmare lice are to get rid off. I told her to not to bother with getting dressed, it was going to be a stay at home day for her. I also suggested, in the kindest possible way, that she stay off the furniture. I left a request for my domestic helper to wash all the linen, on super hot, and tumble dry what couldn’t be washed. I needed to be at work that day, but I don’t think I was terribly productive – I think I spent most of the day googling “how to nuke lice without harming the head on which they’re feeding”. There is an astonishing amount of information on this, let me tell you. From how-to instructions to home remedies like coca-cola, coconut oil and straightening irons.
Besides googling, I had to make the phone call to the school to confess my shameful failing as a parent. I know, I know, it’s a seriously common problem amongst kids, and absolutely no reflection on us, but it just felt so embarrassing! The school secretary was awesome. She’d clearly handled calls like this before and was sympathetic and light and made me feel a little less like a leper.
That afternoon, I drove home via Dischem and stood staring at the medicated hair care range for ages. What to pick? The hippy tea tree stuff or the one with the cartoon louse being bonked on the head with a hammer? And then which product from the range to choose? The dip or the spray? Is the shampoo necessary too? I chose a couple of products and went home to wage warfare on my daughters head. We sprayed, we combed, we shampooed and we combed. It took hours. And we did it all again a few days later. And in between, I nitpicked, daily, whenever I had access to her head. My daughter has a lot of hair, and picking the nits out felt like an impossible task. Just when I thought I had them all, I found more. And just when I thought we had the situation under control, I found a few live creatures again. Rinse, repeat.
It’s been a few weeks since the great lice infestation of 2016 and I believe we are well and truly clear of the buggers now. I still check her hair every few days, but all she seems to have now is a dry scalp from all the products! I think the checking becomes a bit of of an OCD thing actually.
My top tips for getting rid of lice:
- Regardless of the product/old wives remedy you choose, the lice comb is your best friend. The best way to get rid of these things is by applying conditioner to wet hair and combing the hair a few strands at a time.
- You really do need to catch every single nit – and they really stick to the hair. As I combed, I would search for the nits and slide them down the strand of hair. They need to be removed manually, they do not comb out.
- Be religious about checking. This will not be a once off treatment.
- Time your big bed linen wash with the treatment – no point in doing a few hours of a lice treatment and going to bed in a lice infested bed.
- If your child has siblings, cousins, friends that they hang out with all the time, check the other kids out too. Chances are they are also infested and there’s no point waging warfare on your child’s head when they’re just going to pick them up again from their BFF. Check your own hair too.
- If your budget allows, apparently the best way to go is with a lice clinic, but these treatments are pricey. Although once you’ve done a couple of treatments with the off-the-shelf products, you will have racked up quite a Dischem bill.
Finally a big shout out to my Claire! She was a total trooper throughout the whole ordeal. She rarely complained and sat through the hours of combing with grace and humour.