This is not a topic I ever expected to blog on, but thanks to my kids’ sharing nature, it is now something that after 38 years of louse-free life I am intimately acquainted with. [Note: you do not want your children to share all aspects of their lives with you – seriously!]
There is a lot of information around about head lice and how to kill them: this article was the most useful one I found. However, I thought it might be worth posting on my own experience of what may or may not work, so here goes:
- Don’t worry about the expensive chemical sprays. They work reasonably well on short hair (my sons) but had limited effectiveness on my thick shoulder length hair. And they smell bad – really bad.
- I found the conditioner method to be the most effective for me. I did use a herbal anti-nit treatment/conditioner thingy, but that’s because my scalp was badly aggravated and the tea tree and lavender oils in it are both scalp soothers as well as louse annoyers. According to another Mum whose tried it, ordinary conditioner works just as well.
- The method runs as follows (and can take an hour. It’s a bit quicker with short hair):
- Smother your dry hair and scalp with conditioner or treatment cream
- Comb through to ensure it gets everywhere
- Leave for 20-30 minutes
- Dampen your hair and get your nit comb (I’ve found the cheap plastic ones work just as well as the metal ones, though I suspect they don’t last as long and they flex a bit)
- Comb every inch of your hair from root to end. After each pass of the comb wipe it on a tissue or (my preference) rinse it in water – live lice are not easily squashed, so they might as well drown!
- Keep combing till your comb comes out consistently louse and egg free. This may take some time and some repeat combing
- Wash everything out
- Do this treatment regularly – like every one to three days – until your hair is consistently louse and egg free. This could take three weeks (the hatching cycle is 10-12 days). You should notice a drop-off in grown lice after the first week.
- Do soak all your combs and hair ties in boiling water (feel free to add some tea tree oil to make sure) after every treatment. Washing towels and pillowcases might help, too.
- Do keep your nails short, so you don’t scratch your scalp too roughly (this one I didn’t do in time and so am paying the price – please learn from my folly)
And if you do get stuck with hosting these blood-sucking free loaders at any time, try to take some small comfort from the fact that having lice is no longer a compulsory feature of daily life, unlike most of history!