Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lousy children: my methods for combing and picking nits.

See also: http://www.consumer.org.nz/reports/headlice

My favourite nit things (because I find pedantry and scientific understanding are a good substitute for control).

  1. Lice are insects, nits are louse eggs.
  2. Like butterflies, they have a life-cycle but luckily they can't fly, or even hop. Head lice can only creep from head to head. Once hatched they don't survive long away from a head (48 hours will kill almost all).
  3. On average mammals have about 3 species of lice per species of mammal (like our head lice, pubic lice and body lice). Birds have about 7.
  4. Likelier than not, dinosaurs with dino fuzz had lice, including Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  5. Human head lice and body lice are closely related to each other. Our pubic lice are more closely related to gorillas' lice.

My favourite nit removal system (this week).

  1. 1. Give the victim a painkiller if they have a sensitive scalp.
  2. Assemble items:
    1. NitFree (tm) comb bought at the urgent pharmacy. Ruth got one on-line.
    2. Sean's mountain biking headlamp.
    3. My glasses.
    4. Tweezers.
    5. Box of tissues.
    6. Insect viewing magnifier box thing.
    7. A DVD the victim finds engrossing.
  3. Sit behind victim as they watch engrossing DVD.
  4. Cover their head with conditioner, this stuns the lice so they move slower and makes the process less painful for the victim. (I plan to try hair lotion next time rather than normal conditioner, but haven't yet).
  5. Comb scalp and hair in little sections, wiping comb on tissue as I go. Praising victim when they're not whining. I show them what I find because they are probably imagining something much much scarier than little insects.
  6. Pick any lice I want to examine off the comb with the tweezers and put them into the insect viewer.
  7. I tell parents of any kids I'm aware have been rubbing heads with my kids that they might be lousy, and if the school hasn't sent a Nit Warning notice lately I tell the school.
  8. We comb ourselves too. Kids are such good sharers.
If I think the kids are lousy I nit comb/pick about once a week, continuing until two successive goes have no lice or full eggs (full eggs are brownish and usually within 1cm of the scalp unless the host's head gets very hot, hatched are white and further down the hair). Nits are glued to the hair quite well, if some speck shifted off the hair quite easily it wasn't a nit. One's got a very sensitive scalp so I often comb her only a couple of times and subsequently just search really carefully through her hair unless the population seems to be rising again.

I always try to persuade the kids to watch David Attenborough when I'm nit-picking, it makes me feel like a part of the natural world; another animal grooming its young, we all have lice, it's normal.

1 comment:

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