Nit patrol: it’s like beaver patrol, but for dads
It was my wife who spotted them first, during a post-bath comb of our reception child. She texted me. “You’ll never guess. She has NITS!”
I furtively slipped my phone back into my pocket, and looked around: no-one had seen me.
Nits. I hadn’t heard that word for a long time. Not since the nit nurse gave our class a ritual inspection circa 1977, followed by five years of running around playgrounds shouting “YOU’VE GOT NITS!”. Not since my parents had treated me themselves with that rank-smelling shampoo that everyone used.
So I slipped away early, stopped off at Tesco’s on the way home for a jumbo jar of Hellmans, and when we got home we slathered it all over each others’ heads. Boy, did we have fun! It went everywhere: our hair, the walls, the carpet… and we still had enough left for a tuna mayo sandwich before we went to bed! Stop, why are you laughing? It’s a sure-fire way to suffocate the little devils.
We popped on shower caps, and the next morning, OUR HEADS WERE RANCID AND THE HEAD LICE WERE HAVING A PARTY.
Nah, of course we didn’t do that. Are you crazy?
My eldest daughter’s bouncy, curly hair got a going over first, then the toddler’s, then my wife’s long trusses. (My wife is a scab-picker by nature, so while she might have pretended to be revolted, she was secretly loving it.) And yes, since you ask, I did do mine when I got home.
Wise old birds on mumsnet et al will tell you that this is the only reliable way of removing them long-term. Wise old birds will also have more patience than is found chez moi, which is perhaps the reason by a study in the BMJ concluded that “evidence suggests that this method is of low effectiveness”. The problem is predictable: persuading a four-year-old to stay still for twenty or thirty minutes at a time, twice a week or more.
So I thought I’d do the usual trick and try throwing money at the problem. Sadly, I’d wildly underestimated how much money I’d be required to commit. Hedrin is the brand-du-jour, because unlike the insecticides of your childhood it acts physically on our little friends, filling up their breathing holes until they die a miserable death while cursing the inventor of the electron microscope, or something like that.
I discounted the bottles of Hedrin 4% lotion, as that requires a repeat treatment. And I’m not a patient man. So then I was looking at Hedrin Once, and before I knew it I’d handed over eighteen quid for one bottle of shampoo.
You can chuckle about my stupidity as you head for your GP, who apparently can prescribe a variety of such treatments on the NHS. The cheaper version listed as one of the prescription options gives the success rate at 70%, although a newer study explains that the ‘Once’ variant increases the success rate to something around 95%. Not because it has another active ingredient, but because the cheaper version is designed to evaporate and so the blighters get a smaller dose. The pricey silica-based version is left on for only 15 minutes. It goes on like a veritable oil slick, thus giving them both barrels of dimeticone (although no sea birds are harmed in its application).
Anyway, as you might have guessed by now, it worked. For the four of us, we used a third of a bottle, so when the eldest decides to cuddle up with Nitty Norah in the wendy house next week, we have plenty in reserve. For you, it might be totally useless of course: I’m just telling it like it is.
And while I’m scratching like crazy while writing this, some three weeks later, I’m reliably informed by my ever-vigilant wife that we are still lice-free: these are phantom nits. And I’m afraid there’s no known cure for them.
*Note: cynics amongst you will notice that several of the above research links are from the Hedrin site, albeit links to peer-reviewed research papers that are published elsewhere. This may well make me an unwitting stooge of the pharmaceutical industry. My answer to this would be the same as those gullible homeopathy fans: “well it works for me, so it must be true.” If that’s not good enough for you, I’d refer you to a fairly well-balanced write-up of the pros and cons in the, err, Daily Mail.
Have you had a visitation in your house, the type that Derek Acorah couldn’t solve? Or do you have one now and are willing to ‘do a Hellmans’ in the name of research? Tell us more, we won’t judge you.