Like piles, internet trolls and Jeremy Clarkson, head lice are out there lurking, but you’d rather not dwell on them too much. I mean, your child has lovely clean hair and they go to a nice nursery and you do all the right things - so why on earth would a bunch of evil beasties set up home in their hair and start making babies?
But head lice are more indiscriminate than Mary Berry after a pint of sherry. They like to get around, and to prove it, Vosene has helpfully provided us with a ‘nitmap’, showing the head lice hotspots of Britain. (All I can say is: Preston? Ewwwww.)
Perhaps your family are lucky and have never felt the itchy humiliation of a nit infestation. But don’t for a moment think you’re immune to them. The nit dance is a neverending creepy polka that can visit your house at any time and (literally) do your head in.
Based on my personal experience of Nitageddon, here’s what you do if you encounter nits. I’m sure some of you have tackled them differently (ie, without screaming and calling the Speakmans to erase your thoughts), but here’s how I recall dealing with it.
1st Stage – DENIAL
Your golden child just DOES NOT HAVE NITS. They’re not even capable of getting nits. Look at their lovely eyes! Look at their rosy cheeks and rosebud lips! They are sent from heaven. Nits? Nits are for funny looking kids who always have a trail of crusty neon snot coming out of their nose and do wees in the soft play.
2nd Stage - ACCEPTANCE
Fine. You found a nit. It’s light brown in colour, about the size of a green fly, and it’s really difficult to squish.
3rd Stage- VOMIT
4th Stage –ANGER AND BLAME
If the nursery/school would only observe basic levels of hygiene and not herd them around in groups like sheep, then there wouldn’t be a head lice situation at all! I’m going to write a stern letter as soon as I’ve stopped retching into this bucket.
5th Stage - MORE DISGUST
At this point, you might be compelled to rush to the doctors, but don’t bother. Instead, douse their hair with conditioner and go through it with a comb to see whether you can spot any other intruders. You might see some teeny weeny black spots. No, your child didn’t stand under a tree with bits coming off it or wear a poppy seed bagel as a hat. The tiny black things are eggs. Pick them out. While you’re doing it and your kid is whimpering and crying, and you’re whimpering and crying, try to remember that at least nobody has Ebola.* (*yet!)
6th Stage – START ITCHING
Although head lice don’t start itching until they’re (barf) eating your scalp, the mere thought of them is enough to set off some explosive head scratching and tingling. Even if you haven’t got any on your own head, and your kid isn’t itching either, the psychology of nittage is that you will lie away all night, scratting away like a tramp with an STD.
7th Stage – PANIC
If regular nit checks with conditioner haven’t shifted the little blighters, the next stage will lead you to the pharmacy, where you will be presented with a proper nitcomb (it looks like a council version of those 80s hair grips Blossom used to wear) and magic nit shampoo. Don’t worry, the pharmacist has seen it all before. They’re so cool about it, they don’t even wear a full body protective suit like the alien investigators in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
8th Stage – PRIVATE SHAME
Slather you and your child in nit shampoo and sleep with it on your hair overnight. Do it again in a week. Fondly remember the carefree days before kids when all you had to worry about was catching crabs from a barman called Juan.
9th Stage – PUBLIC SHAME
In between treatments, you will probably have to publicly admit that your child has had nits. You’re pretty sure they’ve gone, but you don’t want to be infecting their social circle with head lice and then getting angry fingers pointed at you. You should probably tell the nursery, or the school, so they can send nit-shaming letters to all the other parents and you can cry and say ‘this is about US!!’.
10th Stage- RELIEF
After the final treatment, and a week or two of picking obsessively at your child like a micromanaging gorilla, the nits will be gone, and you’ll finally be able to hold your head up high and say to everyone ‘WE ARE NO LONGER INFESTED!’ Throw a party - but for God’s sake don’t invite anyone who looks like they might be scratching their head or has a long plait with tiny little things crawling in it. Because when you’re on the nit merry-go-round, it’s sometimes really, really hard to get off…