For the first time in my life I saw head lice. And they were in my OWN CHILD.
The feeling of horror and shame when you find out it's your child! I was mortified! I felt like a bad parent. I felt like I never wash my child. I felt like she was suffering some sort of neglect!
My daughter had been complaining of an itchy scalp. I had been sifting through her hair earlier in the week but not noticed anything but on Friday when I was doing her hair I did notice something that I thought could be nits, but I wasn't sure. She'd never had it before and then I was working both Saturday and Sunday all day so I couldn't look again till Monday evening.
So on Monday I went to the areas that I saw the possible nits. I had seen nits on patients before, so I knew they cluster near the back hairlines. I was picking them out and putting it on sticky tape so I could see better. They were stuck quite hard to the hair but I could still pull them off.
And then I saw something moving in her hair. Immediately I went hunting for it and I grabbed it and stuck it to the sticky tape. Yep, it was a louse. GROSS.
I yelled to hubby and showed it to my daughter and she killed it.
"Why did you do that?" I asked. "I want to show your father."
"Because it's yukky!"
I rolled my eyes. I yelled to hubby that our daughter had lice and he needs to look in her hair and I need to go to the chemist right now. He came down with a comb and said we will comb them out.
"No!" I said. "You need to kill them first or we'll have lice everywhere!"
He found another one with the comb and I went off to the chemist and bought two bottles of nit shampoo. My memory of head lice shampoo is that it smells revolting and was full of chemicals. There were so many brands to choose from, I had to ask the pharmacy for advice and I walked away with an extra nit comb as well. There are lotions, shampoos, conditioners! I opted for a lotion that you apply to dry hair.
Now, I am not new to lice. After all, I saw the chicken lice. They were an orangey colour but the human ones are darker, more brown/black.
So off I immediately checked everyone else's hair for nits or lice. Boys are great with their short hair because there is nowhere for lice to hide. I can practically see my son's whole scalp coz his hair is short and there were no nits. Hubby too got checked and he was clean. But I couldn't check myself, so I decided to just treat myself because nobody knew how to check or what to look for.
So I marched my daughter to the shower and we sat naked in there whilst I poured nit killer on her head and hair and rubbed it in. She has such long hair it nearly used up the whole big bottle! She apologised to me about her nits and I told her it's ok, Mummy should have checked earlier.
Once I made sure all her hair and scalp were wet with lotion, it had to be left for 10 minutes. So we did my hair, which is fortunately short. Time to attack her hair with the nit comb.
The lotion is good because it acts a bit like a lubricant so I can pull the nit comb through her hair. I still had to do a bit of detangling but I started in sections and I was amazed at what the comb picked up. I put it on a tissue so I could look closer at them. Gross. I don't really WANT to share a picture of it, but for those who have never seen them it might be useful to see them...
It is actually quite rewarding doing a nit comb. Getting stuff off her head made me feel like I was doing a good thing. I was relieved when we did my hair that I didn't get anything so I was nit and lice free.
We washed all the sheets and then I was worrying about the couch and things that she had been lying on. However, the NSW health info sheet on head lice said that lice cannot live for more than a few hours off the head, so there is no need to worry about blankets and pillows. I was surprised. But there is still possibility of nits falling off and hatching, I suppose.
Someone at work was surprised my daughter made it to the age of 9 and never had it before. I am more worried about how to prevent it happening again!
Apparently head lice repellents (like tea trea oil sprays) are not effective. Basically it's just not putting your head next to an infested one. Braids and ponytails mean less stray hair around, so my daughter will be having her hair tied in tight braids every day!