Lots of ideas on how to tackle the blighters from – anonymous – TPPSG members
‘Itchy,’ said my daughter towards the end of her first term at nursery. I just thought her thick, curly hair made her a bit hot and sticky when she got out of bed. It took my husband to identify the cause – and to point out that I had them as well….
Nits have become resistant to most of the pesticides in lice shampoo, and the main problem with using it is that it doesn’t kill the eggs. They hatch between 7 – 10 days after being laid, so you have to use the shampoo again later – but by then they may have matured and laid their own eggs…..
So here is the method I have been using for years. It works, it’s just time-consuming and boring for the kids, but if you do it properly it will remove them completely. My top tip is if your child has long or thick hair get the hairdresser to thin it out before you start – I wish I had realised this years ago, it makes life so much easier.
Wash the hair with shampoo. Stand at a sink with a towel round the child’s shoulders.
1. Put some conditioner on the hair. Comb through the hair using a normal size comb until you have removed all the knots. (This can also be done in front of the TV which makes it more bearable for the child involved).
2. Add more conditioner. Then start to comb through the hair using a nit comb (preferably a metal one which you can get at a chemists), rinsing off the nits under the tap as you go. You will quickly become familiar with what a mature adult lice looks like, and you can see all the different sizes from babies to seniors. Try and use it as a biology lesson for the kids, even while your stomach may be heaving. Don’t worry, you get used to them!
3. Go round the hair combing thoroughly each section. Nits like warmth, so behind the ears is a good spot, as is the top of the head.
4. You think you’ve finished, but you haven’t. Go round again, and try to comb against the groove of the hair – you’ll be surprised how many you will find.
5. If you and your child can bear it, go round again.
6. Count three days then repeat on the fourth. Then wait another three days, then repeat on the fourth. Then wait another three days and there should be no more lice in the hair. If you find an adult louse at any stage then start again as they have caught nits once more or you have missed one and you don’t know if it will lay eggs.
As I said, this isn’t the easiest of methods, but you and your kids will get used to it, and it’s better than using the very noxious chemicals in the lice treatments you can buy, especially if you are going to have to use them fairly regularly. Think yourself lucky – in some countries you have to keep your child off school if they have nits!
I found that the essential things were:
1) understanding the life cycle of lice. If you zap all the hatched ones, then zap them again once the eggs are hatched but before the new lice are old enough to reproduce – so approx. 7 days later – then they won’t come back.
2) There is no substitute for elbow grease in tackling lice. You need a comb – preferably the Nitty Gritty one, which is by far the most effective, due to the sort of spirals on its teeth – and loads of conditioner. Sit your children in the bath and comb until you’re sure you’ve covered all the hair and anything live is out. Do the same (though maybe not for as long) with all other members of the family, in case they’re affected, too. The Nitty Gritty will actually get a few of the eggs, but nothing gets them all, so repeat in 7 days. I wouldn’t be averse to the nuke chemical options if they were more effective, but they’re not, though more so if you stick to the 7-day rule.
3) If the lice keep coming back it is likely, in my experience, that your child is repeatedly catching them from the same child. I learnt who this was through the nanny circuit (the child’s nanny complained to our nanny that the family had pretty much “given up” tackling lice). There was, of course, nothing I could do! But the lice went when the children stopped being friends.
As with any of these little intruders, killing them with a heavily chemical product is just a short term solution, as there are so many of them around that they will only come back a few weeks later.
These products also seem to disrupt the natural balance on your kids’ heads and the hair and scalp turn dry, which in turn only seems to attract more head lice, because the drier the hair, the easier it is for the lice to attach to it. By the way, this is why too frequent hair washing seems to make hair all the more attractive for head lice.
Our homeopath recommended the following:
1) Use Nitty Gritty or any of the other natural products found in health food stores and follow the instructions (quote school2014 at www.nittygritty.co.uk for a discount – ed)
2)Regularly apply a combination of citronella, tea tree and lavender essential oils on their heads for the following 4-6 weeks
3)Give a homeopathic remedy called Staphisagria after the head lice are gone, to deal with the overall effects of the “invasion”.
She also mentioned that you could boil the plant Robert’s Kraut/Herb Robert and wash the hair in the water once cooled down. Robert’s Kraut seems to grow in most people’s garden in the area, so it’s an easy, cheap and lovely natural remedy.
Electric nit combs – Zap the buggers with a battery-powered electric shock. Best brand was the RobiComb – www.robicomb.com/. Buy a couple of spare replacement metal combs with the kit as once the teeth bend too far, it no longer works as well.
FrizzEase– the John Frieda product for taming thick hair – seems to keep the nits at bay at least for some children.
Keep combing the hair with the special comb in the bath occasionally, preferably after applying conditioner because the greasiness of it makes it harder for the lice to cling to the hair.
Make a mix of water and citronella, tea tree and lavender essential oils to spray regularly on to the kids’ heads to deter the lice.
Tie hair back or cut short to avoid too much “hair mingling” when the little ones put their heads together.
Myths about Nits
They jump on to nearby heads – They don’t, but sadly this doesn’t stop them easily crawling onto your child’s head as children often put their heads together, especially when working on something at nursery or school or at a sleepover.
They don’t like some types of hair – I thought this my twins never got nits while at nursery so I thought we were exempt. We’re not, they got them at primary school. Several times.And now three times at secondary school. Nits like Afro-Caribbean hair just as much as Caucasian. And they like dirty hair as much as clean.
You have to wash all the bedding if your child has nits – You don’t, nits can’t survive without feeding from a human head so even if they crawl onto the pillow they will be dead shortly.
You can’t share a hairbrush with someone who has nits – ditto above, although you may not want to.
You will know if your child has nits by their scratching – not necessarily, sometimes they don’t bother them until there are hundreds, and you can’t always see them in the hair either.
Who Gets Them?
There’s a theory that head lice dislike testosterone so men are less prone to them, as are boys.
There is a correlation between people who eat a lot of sugar and those who suffer repeated headlice infestations according to some complementary practitioners. This would certainly fit with my daughter who had them what felt like continuously from the ages of three to 12/13, a time when she would also eat anything sweet she could get her hands on.