We’ve had some gross visitors to this house. Thread worms (three times), all-over ringworm, scalp fungus and hand-foot-and-mouth. I’m sure there are others that I have blanked out.
But we never had nits. Not once. Until NOW. We occasionally have emails from the school saying “There’s nits in Y1” and I dutifully go through the kids’ hair but there’s nothing there except mud, sticks, leaves, bits of old crisp, glue, paint, football cards, old Cheerios, 20p coins and rubber bands.
Then I heard Kitty complaining the other day “Sam stop scratching your head! You’re shaking the sofa. It’s so ANNOYING.”
And I thought oh god, this is it. And it was. I set about him with the nit comb and the lotion and felt itchy myself for about an hour and then forgot about it until it was time to lotion and comb him again. He’s got short hair and he quite likes being combed and I don’t mind either and it’s all basically fine and I think we’ve got rid of them.
Then two days later I had to relent and admit that, yeah, I probably had nits, too. The only other time I’ve had nits was when I was 16, which seems a bit old to have them, but there you go.
I will never forget it. It was the summer term of the lower Sixth. My head had been feeling monstrously itchy for weeks and I asked my mother to have a look. “Nah you’re alright,” she said. Then, a week later, at my school’s slightly ludicrous “fashion show” where among other pretentious and insane things, professional hairstylists had somehow been blackmailed or bribed into doing our hair, I was told.
A beautiful, cool girl, probably about 26, was scraping my hair back and looping it round with gel in some kind of weird ribbon effect. She had completely ignored me up until that point and was gassing to her mate about what she’d been doing in the most recent Fashion Week. Then she went quiet for a bit and leant over and said to me, really loudly “You do know you’ve got headlice, don’t you?”
And of course I nodded in a scared way and said “Yeah.” She gave me a puzzled look and went back to doing my hair. To her credit she didn’t drop me like a spitting cobra and disappear, only to return wearing a Hazmat suit. But still, it was pretty humiliating. She was probably astounded that in this massive, old, really posh and expensive London school, teenagers were wandering about with nits.
But that’s the thing about nits – they are very levelling. And just because it’s a public school, doesn’t mean there isn’t neglect. I remember one boy in the year below me lived by himself – by himself – in a flat in Belgravia while his parents lived in Greece, and had done since he was 13. We kind of thought nothing of it, but when I think about it now it was insane. What would happen to him if he got nits?
Another boy, in the year above me, is rumoured to have smoked 20 cigarettes a day since he was 11 years old and that was the reason he was so short. Kids did drugs in the loos and turned up high to lessons; in my year there was a group of boys called “The Sticky Fingers crew” who went round stealing things. There was someone who had a flick-knife but I now can’t remember who it was.
I am always reminded of all this whenever people look at me askance because my kids go to a little hippy non-selective school where they call their teachers by their first names. (A school, by the way, that we as teenagers always made rank fun of any time it came up in conversation). The assumption with our school is that it will be very druggy during the teenage years, to which my response is that all schools are druggy at some point and teenagers are all stupid c**** at some point and you just have to hope and pray that they get to 24 sane and alive. You might as well, if you are sending them private, send them to a school where they’re not nagged 200 times a day to tuck their shirts in and it’s small enough that if anyone sparked up a dooby in the bogs, the entire school would smell it.
After I was told I had nits, I got some leave-in, overnight nit solution and dosed myself twice and that was that. There was no combing advice, as there is now. But I think the wisdom these days, 22 years later, is that lice and nits have become resistant to even really very poisonous nit solution so the trick is to lightly poison them once for good measure and then comb, comb, comb, like mad.
But, hello, have you seen my hair? I am not going through that with a metal comb. And Giles is not going to do it either. I still haven’t forgiven my mother for misdiagnosing me all those years ago so I won’t give her the pleasure of doing it.
So I sat around for a bit, feeling faintly panicky. And then out of the blue I was recommended by my friend Sarah to go to “Dee the nit lady” in Primrose Hill; she runs a nit-elimination salon in the front room of her beautiful Georgian house on St Mark’s crescent. She also has franchises all over the country.
Dee is slightly alarming and brisk on the phone and also on first meeting but by golly she’s got a good thing going there. Her front living room has 4 massage chairs in it, that you sit astride in a sort of weird Christine Keeler pose and these girls come in, wearing all-white scrub suits like mental asylum workers and purple bandanas TO KEEP THE NITS AWAY.
First job is to hoover your hair with a special nit sucker-upper to establish if you do indeed have lice. They found one. “Do you want to see it?” they said. “No!” I screamed. Then there is the heat treatment, which dehydrates any leftover nit-houses and, last of all, they spray your head all over with leave-in conditioner and meticulously comb every strand of your hair. It takes about an hour and 15 minutes (depending on how long your hair is). You go back a week later. The whole thing costs £150.
I found it utterly relaxing and wonderful and think all that scrubbing and combing has in fact done really wonderful things for my scalp, lice notwithstanding.
To find out more about Dee the nit lady, visit her website HERE.
This is not a sponsored post and my treatment was not gifted.
How about you? Do you currently have lice? What do you intend to do about it.