Monday, June 11, 2007

More about nits

By way of a post, here is the article that last week's brief nit agonising turned into:

A few weeks ago my daughter and I became members of an exclusive club: Those Who Have Had Nits.

I first discovered them when blow drying my daughter's hair. A small dark spot had appeared on her scalp near the crown. As a cool, calm, collected kind of a parent, my first shriek was: 'Melanoma!' Then the spot moved: 'Crawling melanoma!'

Cooler heads prevailed and within five minutes my husband had picked half a dozen lice out of her hair. Then he turned to me. My daughter really hit the nit-picking jackpot when she inherited his fine, blond hair. My long, thick, curly hair was another matter. After half an hour of intense chimp-like picking and whooping (but thankfully not eating), my husband confirmed I, too, was thoroughly infested. Then he and my son shuffled their Pure and Clean Heads along the sofa away from us. A very long way away.

In the ensuing hunt for A Product That Actually Works, and the humiliating phone calls to inform playmates, in case any of our new friends had jumped ship on to their heads, I discovered the massive gulf between Those Who Have Had Nits and Those Who Have Not.

Those Who Have Had Nits were amazingly blasé: 'oh yeah, thanks, I'll whack some conditioner on their heads tonight and don't worry we're still friends'. Those Who Have Not turned Incredible Hulk on me: 'killer beasts?! Aaah! We never want to see your nitty faces ever again.' No doubt I would have reacted the same way a few weeks ago, except without the ostracision, because as a relative newcomer to this land girt by sea, I need all the friends I can get.

I also received a host of advice on nit repellents. Tea tree oil is apparently popular, but if you take it too far you will smell like a freshly disinfected toilet. Vinegar and water is reliable, but small boys, drunk on collecting football cards, may rummage through your hair on the grounds that if you smell like a bag of salt and vinegar chips, the Darren Lockyer gold card may just be hiding in there.

My favourite piece of advice was: never wash their hair. Ah, no more screams about shampoo in their eyes and conditioner in their ears! No more wielding the hairdryer to cries of 'too hot!' 'you're burning me!' On the other hand, if I stop washing their hair, Lazy Me might take over and it's a small step to no more toothbrushing or clothes washing, and from there, an even smaller step to No More Friends At All.

Nits are not fatal. Not nice, but not fatal. I'll wear my club membership badge with pride as I go back to the chemists for yet another foul-smelling cure.


jjdebenedictis said...

I've heard the old-fashioned method - olive oil, a lot of time, and a fine-toothed comb - is the best way because a lot of modern lice are immune to common treatments.

McKoala said...

I know that olive oil is the best cure for cradle cap. Magic stuff, clearly. I like old-fashioned cures. I suspect that olive oil stuns the wee beasties into submission, in a similar way to conditioner, so they can then be combed out. I think that the message is that it's the combing that really fixes the problem, not the poisons we're putting on our children's heads!