Yes, it’s that time of year again. Our little darlings are tripping back through the school gates and the country heaves a collective sigh of relief to be back into a routine.
Every afternoon, home they bounce, full of the joys of the education system. Excited, overtired, grubby, new lessons learned, old friendships rekindled.
And of course; nits.
One week into the school year and we have already been blessed with our first infestation. I only picked up on it when I saw my four year old going hell for leather on her scalp Sunday morning. I asked her cautiously, “Are you itching, love?” praying to GOD she would say no, she was just looking for that stray coco pop.
But alas, I parted her beautiful locks to find an entire family of nits from Grandpa Joe to tiny baby, all sitting round a campfire toasting marshmallows and singing Kumbaya on my daughter’s head. FACK!
So for those of you who are or will be (it’s only a matter of time!) enduring the nit storm, here are my 9 Top Tips:
Firstly, go out the back and scream. When you have managed to move past the heebie-jeebies and have stopped cursing every child your Angel ever met, pull your shit together and go back inside.
Go out and get the mode of annihilation that suits you best. I went for the Lyclear lotion over the shampoo as it claimed to be 100% effective in killing lice AND eggs, and I wanted nothing but complete and utter nit devastation! Treat the entire household down to the bloody cat, regardless of who has them or not.
Some may prefer to go the natural route – a good home remedy is a mix of one teaspoon of tea tree oil, an ounce of regular shampoo and three tablespoons of olive oil. Leave in the hair for half an hour then comb through with a nit comb.
This shit takes time, so sit your child as comfortably as you can and arm them with a book/tablet/phone. Make sure you are in good light because lice eggs are tiny, I mean stupidly tiny, and you are gonna have to go through the hair strand by strand to get them all. I found the nit comb pretty useless to be honest, and ended up having to pull the eggs off with my fingernails – sorry!
Wash out the treatment thoroughly. I know this may seem obvious but I effed up here! I found the lotion very hard to completely wash out and the day after treatment my poor daughter was still pulling at her hair. I knew for a fact that there was nothing left alive on her head, then I realised it was the lotion itself that had aggravated her skin. After giving her another really thorough wash, she was fine.
Strip the beds! Even though my eldest was the only one affected, I still washed all the bed sheets in the house. Lice cannot survive longer than 24 hours off their “host” (*shudder*) and any temperatures above 53℃ will kill them, so washing at 60℃ or above will eliminate the little blighters from your wash. We took my daughters pillows and duvet to the big wash and dryer machines outside our local Tesco to get everything in together. I washed any clothing or coats she had worn in the last 24 hours, then I vacuumed the crap out of the house (I also did my girls mattress for good measure!).
Notify your school/creche/childminder/pre-school. This is so important!! As icky as you may feel about the whole situation, you have got to inform the people who your child has been in contact with in the last few days.
Don’t be embarrassed. Don’t freak out. This is nothing you have done wrong. In fact, head lice prefer clean heads! And as frustrating as it is, try not to let your child feel bad about it – it’s not their fault either. Indulge yourselves in a big bar of chocolate as you spend that quality time together in the bathroom nit picking…
Methods of prevention: Keep long hair tied up. Teach your child to avoid sharing combs/brushes with others. There are lots of shampoos and sprays available now that help to keep the nits away. A dab of tea tree oil behind the ears can be effective and also the oil infused hair gogo’s Leeloops claim to repel head lice.
Finally please, please, PLEASE! If you get the notice home that there are confirmed cases of head lice, check your child’s hair. Regardless of whether they have been itching or not. Check. Their. Head. Nits are an absolute scourge, especially in primary school, and the only way to break the cycle or re-infecting is to make sure your child is properly checked/treated.
Now go and sit down with a large glass of wine and steel yourself for the next invasion!