Lice wars. Get ready. The vermin are coming.

Posted by on 12 April, 2010

Boo!! Scared??

If you are one of the few parents walking the planet who has escaped the plague that roams your beloved little scrubbed-faced cherub’s golden curls, consider yourself touched by an angel. Or deficient in eyesight. Either way, you have never experienced the heartsink of spotting that foul scuttling animal darting along your little one’s scalp, or the tell tail white dandruff dots that don’t move when you blow them away…. And the horror of realizing that you either have to pack your little one off to school and hope nobody notices or call in sick and spend the next few hours delousing her head. Praying that there enough Disney Channel reruns that she loves to sit through quietly and immovably while you painstakingly scan every single hair on her scalp and pinch, pull and tweeze each stubborn nit and mumma-louse out.  

You then have to contemplate scanning the other family members with equal diligence in case the plague has infested one and all. And perhaps the most difficult and humiliating job of all- finding someone to scan your own hair. Your five year old daughter? Good luck! Your husband? If he’s blessed with the attention to detail required for such a task, and is prepared to allocate said talents to the revolting job of rooting out your potential crawling pestilence, you have yourself a gem; never lose him. Back in the real world, most of us are somewhat less blessed in that department and usually resort to sisters and mums. If you’re an immigrant and have no family here, you come to my practice and make a polite request for help (I’m not joking. And the answer, by the way is ‘unfortunately no.’) Or you might resort to a professional lice buster.

These guys are big business in the USA. This week, the New York Times reported HERE  that time strapped or frankly grossed out parents are paying up to $500 per head for a delousing treatment. That’s not a typo. And according to my twitter friends, apparently the delousing world is off and sprinting here in Australia too.

Now if you don’t want to dispense with your life savings on banishing lice from your family, but similarly don’t want to welcome them into your world, here are my tips. Gleaned from research (there are people who study those foul six legged vermin for a living) and from a sorry amount of personal experience (our three youngest girls had lice for the better part of 2008 until we worked this thing out), you WILL be rid of the pests permanently with these relatively inexpensive steps;

  1. Buy a mountain of home brand white vinegar and mayonnaise. Mix together in equal parts enough to coat the requisite number of heads. Do not be a scrooge. We’re aiming to completely smother the beasts. Cover hair in plastic wrap and leave for 10 minutes.
            *Studies show that most anti-lice products do little more than conditioner or mayonnaise and only kill around 30% of live lice but simply stun the remainder allowing you time to comb them out while they’re stoned on the chemicals.

           *Most anti-lice products will turn your child’s hair into a dry bird’s nest if applied often enough.

          *I’ve been told the vinegar loosens the glue the lice use to bind the nits to the hair strands. No studies back this up but in my experience the eggs slide out with this regime.

2. Lice comb through. Wash and condition your child’s hair then lice comb.

3. Do this every second day for a week.

4. Brush your child’s hair properly daily (the brushing can break a live one’s leg and if she can’t run she will die). Tie her hair up for school, especially if she’s very affectionate with her friends (lice walk from head to head directly- not via hats, old towels or pillow cases).

After the first time you find your child’s hair literally about walk off her head and you pull out around 40 live animals, you will never have quite the same level of infestation again but you have to keep checking to catch it early. Be strong, be vigilant and may you win this and every war!