Ok, so I finally found something to drive me back to blogging. What is it, you might ask, that can break a 6 month hiatus? Simple. Head lice.
Now don't start scratching just because I made you think about creepy crawlies in your hair. That itch you feel is most likely all in your head. Er, I mean it is just your imagination. Or is it?
2 weeks ago I noticed the kiddo (all 7 and 3 quarters years old, she would tell you) was scratching her head. Not the scratch of puzzlement that is supposed to, what, stimulate the brain cells into solving some riddle? Also not the I've been rolling in the dirt and sweating all day and really need a dunk in the tub scratch... no, this was the even though my hair was just washed 2 hours ago and is still slightly damp, I must dig my finger nails into my scalp and see if I can reach bone scratch. This was accompanied by an extremely wicked case of the irritables which included snapping at anyone in a ten food radius of my sweet angelic kiddo.
So, of course, the first thing that popped into my head was that it was time for close scrutiny of the kiddo's head. While we have never had an out break of lice, we've had scares, and kiddo has a couple of aunts who run daycares. That, coupled with childhood memories of my mother getting me down and searching my hair if I so much as twitched a finger in the general direction of my scalp, provided me with enough information to know that I had to at least look.
So, I took a deep breath and captured the kiddo, begging her to hold still (ha!) so I could check her head for bugs. At first glance I thought she had sand in her hair. Then I realized what I was seeing were "nits" or the eggs of critters attached to the base of her hairs. Ew. I looked up pictures on the internet. Yes, they were not just nits, but hatched nits. Apparently they are whitish yellow when the little devils are still in them, but turn a brown when they are just empty shells. GROSS! There were LOTS of these hatched eggs, but it wasn't till I saw a live one crawling that I freaked. We had just been on a Brownie trip (I am a co-leader) barely a week ago AND she had spent the night with her aunt and her soon to be adopted cousin. I picked up the phone and called everyone to tell them to do head checks and then darted off to the store to buy a remedy.
Um, yeah, about the remedy. This is a pesticide you put in your hair. Not thrilled with that, but, like the idea much more than just letting the little buggers crawl free. So I bought a kit with shampoo, nit removal stuff, furniture spray, and a funky plastic comb. I decided the comb that came with the kit looked wimpy so I bought a separate one that had metal teeth. I also bought XXL ziplock bags to bag up all the stuffed animals, dolls and hats that couldn't be washed. Oh yeah and a new jug of laundry detergent, because in case you didn't know, everything that can be washed that has come in contact (or might even possibly have come in contact if you are paranoid like me) has to be washed in hot water and dried on high heat for at least 20 minutes. We were in for a LONG evening.
The washing of the kiddo's hair (as well as mine and my teenaged son's) went alright. Then it was combing time. I started on kiddo's head, armed with paper towels to wipe the comb on after each swipe and smaller ziplock bags to stuff the towels into for disposal. I was combing out bugs.... and they were moving still. ICK! I thought they would all be dead. Most seemed stunned at least. I combed her hair for over an hour and finally tucked her in to bed with clean sheets and blankets. Combing my hair didn't seem to net anything although by then my scalp felt like it was alive and crawling around on my skull.
We washed and sprayed.... and did all the stuff you are supposed to do. I declared us lice-free and felt vindicated.
Every time I saw kiddo scratch I would recheck her head. I didn't see anything. And then tonight (wait YESTERDAY, it is after 3 in the morning now) she came and asked me to recheck her head cause she was really itching. I searched, no signs of eggs that I could see. Just about to declare it her imagination I saw something move. Oh no. It was small but there was no doubt as to what it was. I tried to get it, but it was a fast bugger. I search some more and after 5 minutes spotted another movement, the same one again? a different one?? Oh god, I didn't want to do this again.
I was back on the internet. Looking at other options... home remedies that I recall scoffing at previously. There were many out there that suggested mayonaise or various oils to saturate the hair with and suffocate them. Others that recomended things like tea tree oil or exotic oils like neem both as a remedy and preventative to reinfestations. Some who swore that switching to a coconut shampoo and condition would both solve and prevent. After wading through various combinations of these themes, I went and bought two bottles of Suave coconut conditioner and a bottle of some Tea Tree Oil shampoo and some shower caps. I slathered the conditioner on and covered heads with shower caps. I figured enough conditioner should smother them just as well as the other stinkier and messier ideas. We watched two movies I had rented and feasted on malted milk balls and Shirley Temples. I told kiddo it was our bug killin' party. After several hours of suffocation we rinsed out the conditioner and washed thoroughly with the tea tree oil shampoo. And then back to the comb.
I'm horrified to say that I combed over 20 lice out of that child's head. However, all but one were stone cold dead. And the one that wasn't was twitching and not looking too healthy. So, thus far, this has worked much better than the store bought lice treatment. And while we have the long run to consider still (I plan to use the tea tree oil and follow it with coconut conditioner for a week or two at least), I think the ONLY useful thing I bought last time in the Lice section was the Rid comb with the metal teeth. (That reminds me, I have to gather up the brushes and soak them in boiling water again in the morning. A mother's work is never done.)
On the plus side, I combed nothing out of my hair again, even after re-watching one of our movies with the commentary on and combing the whole time while I waited for sheets and pillow cases to dry.
If I never see another louse, it will be too soon.