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- 13 Sep 17

It all started with an itch one morning…

‘Mama! My head won’t stop itching!’ screeched my 5-year-old. He’d woken up in floods of tears and was scratching his scalp rigorously.

‘Don’t worry,’ I reassured him. ‘I’m sure it won’t last.’ But it did. In fact it got so bad that during breakfast my little man lay on the kitchen floor and balled his eyes out, kicking his legs in the air with frustration.

It was at that moment that I remembered a recent school newsletter: ‘Please can all parents check their children’s hair as there have been reports of head lice.’ Great.

I also recalled that I too had been scratching my head a bit more of late. That I’d had a few tingly sensations going on in my hair, a bit like something crawling around…

Totally freaking out, I rang my husband: ‘We’ve got nits!’ I shrieked. ‘Oh crikey,’ he replied. ‘That makes a lot of sense.’ Turned out that he’d had an itchy scalp for about a month but hadn’t thought anything of it. And, like me, hadn’t thought to mention it.

After Googling ‘Cures for head lice’, I bundled my two boys in the car, raced to the nearest pharmacy and stocked up on the biggest bottle of lice-obliterating treatment I could get my hands on, plus the essential nit comb (whilst trying to ignore the ‘Ewwwwwwww’ looks from the lady behind the counter).

Luckily it was the school holidays so I didn’t have to worry about informing the other mothers about our delightful head-lice infestation. I didn’t have to endure those disgusted, ‘Don’t come any closer!’ looks that you tend to get when you mention the dreaded ‘nit’ word.

Back at home I slathered the lotion onto the boys’ hair and made them sit at the kitchen table with a towel round their neck for 15 minutes whilst they groaned and grimaced. I too covered my hair with it and made my husband do the same as soon as he got through the door that evening, much to his disgust.

The rest of the day was spent de-head-licing the whole house. Cue washing copious amounts of bedlinen (apparantly this is totally unecessary as head lice only survive on a ‘human host’. Gross, I know…). Cue cancelling any playdates for the next few days (just to be on the safe side). Cue having to deal with my little ones freaking out about bugs feasting on their heads. Cue hoovering and dusting for up to two hours to completely get rid of any traces of nits (again, totally unecessary, but it makes you feel better). Cue shopping online for a whole load of tea-tree shampoos, conditioners and defence sprays (because tea-tree oil gets a big nit-repellent thumbs up on various parenting forums). Cue spending the whole night searching the net for a miracle cure to stop nasty nits from returning (don’t waste your time, there isn’t one).

A month on from this whole hideous experience and what have I learnt? That you’re utterly bonkers if you’ve got children and don’t have at least one bottle of nit-blitzing lotion in your bathroom cabinet. And that an innocent itch on your head will never feel that innocent again.

Happy scratching fellow mamas…

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Fiona Pennell

Fiona Pennell lives in the Cotswolds with her husband and their two boys, Jack, 6, and Otto, 4. A former YOU magazine sub-editor, Fiona now spends her days being trampled on, going on slug hunts and dreaming of lie-ins. (Twitter: @fiona_pennell)

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