The return of the nits

Once you get past primary school nits often become a distant memory, except when they don’t…

removing nits from hair


I’ve long been fascinated by nits. Mainly because I’ve spent so long dealing with the critters. At one point I was considering writing a children’s series about a family of vegan nits called the Nitty Nots. But I’d kind of forgotten about them over the last few years as everyone has moved on to secondary school. Plus only son hasn’t really got them at primary school – maybe because his hair is shorter or because he tends to be a bit of a loner unlike his sisters who are prone to hugging people all the time.

But as soon as we were back from holiday – a holiday spent with extended family, several of primary school age, daughter three was spotted scratching her head. She washed her hair and emerged from the shower in horror. “I’ve found a nit,” she shrieked as if the end of the world had come to pass. She spent the rest of the evening combing her hair. Her sister followed suit. Only son wasn’t too bothered, except for the fact that he didn’t want to do the combing routine. His hair is tightly curled and combing is like torture. I remember sitting with everyone for nights on end combing through their hair and trying not to tug, the lingering smell of tea tree oil and the tears.

I recall trying all sorts of products, none of which really worked effectively – either that or as soon as they were clear of the nits another note came round from school saying another case had been found in their class. It was like groundhog day, but it also forced everyone to sit still [or as still as possible] and many good chats were had as I wielded the comb. My mum – for she was also affected – swore by Derbac, but it is hard to come by where we live.

There is such a selection of products available, all of which seem to say that they are 100% effective. I’ve tried them all. It gets very expensive if you have to treat the whole family [except my partner who is bald – it’s one of the few upsides of baldness, he tells me]. Some of the treatments are harder to wash out than others and require several rinses. Indeed, my work photo at one of my jobs has a photo where my hair looks distinctly post-nit treatment.

This time round I’ve discovered something called Vamousse. You just spray it into dry hair, comb and rinse. Only son refused to go under the comb and I was worried all my hair would come out – a horrible side effect of the menopause is the amount of hair you lose every time you brush. I’ve taken to keeping my hair in a ponytail in the completely erroneous belief that that preserves it more. My children have pointed out that it probably pulls more of it out. Luckily, so far, Vamousse seems to be living up to its name. At nearly 15 pounds a bottle so it should.

In a way, it makes things too easy. As I say, I have a love hate relationship with nits. I know more about their life cycle than any other small creature. At one point I became slightly obsessed with watching people’s hair for movement. Even a slight waft of tea tree oil brings a nostalgic smile…All those things that seemed stressful at the time have now been converted into fond memories of a time that passed all too quickly.

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