*Update*  It’s now 2018 and this is still one of my most well-read posts. That being the case, the older and wiser me is going to share some wisdom. Ditch the lotion and get yourself a long and close-toothed metal comb. Something like a nitty-gritty is the only way to go. Cover the offending head in conditioner and comb (and comb, and comb) through, section by section. It takes ages but it’s worth it.

Important note: Don’t wait until you’re flaying yourself alive to comb. Build it into your schedule – regular coming is the only way to stay nit-free (and it saves you a fortune in nit-lotion, which is horrible to wash out). If you discover you or your child has nits and you only comb once, you’re guaranteeing that they come back…


I’ve been suffering lately, convinced that the world was talking about me because my ears were on fire.  I’d wake up and spend the day pulling at them, tearing up the back of my neck scratching away.  I wondered if I was suffering from some sort of allergy and stopped using all my hair products to try and isolate the guilty party, allowing my hair to frizz away happily in the sea air on Raasay.

A couple of days into our holiday I had a brainwave and checked all of the kids for headlice – nothing doing – I couldn’t have them then could I? I returned to blaming the bloody midges and scratching off a layer of skin an hour.

Maybe the sea air helped, because the itching subsided. Or maybe it was the fact the the midge bites took precedence and I forgot about the burny ear and neck issue – until this morning.

Waking up I was surprised that my neck wasn’t oozing blood I was scratching it that hard.  I dashed for the shower, grabbing the nit comb on the way.  There’s a sense of nostalgia that envelopes when using the nit comb, I never comb my hair these days with a close-toothed comb, truth be told I rarely comb my hair at all, which is possibly why it turns out that I was housing some of the biggest head lice in the western hemisphere.

Look away now if you’re squeamish:

This was just one of many that were rehomed down the plughole. I combed and combed and despatched many little licey families but then, disaster – no lotion in the cupboard and it’s bank holiday Monday. Which means that I’m incubating the little buggers.  They’re partying on my poor exfoliated head like it’s 1999 and there’s nothing I can do about it.

I learned two lessons today and I’d like to pass them on to you.  Firstly a girl should never be without her nitcomb, Victoria would do well to remember this as she embarks on her huge adventure, and secondly, no house where children reside should ever forget to build in regular combings to their schedule.

Are you scratching? If you’re not then you’re at least 80% cyborg….and quite possibly headlice free.

Ears burning? That’ll be the head lice….
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50 thoughts on “Ears burning? That’ll be the head lice….

  • August 30, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Itch itch and boy do I feel for you. (Please do not visit me right now though lol)

    Do you have any soft margarine or crisco (shortening)? I know I may sound odd but rub it well into your hair, then wrap of your hear in plastic saran wrap and sleep with it overnight. Lice breathe through pores in their sides and this suffocates them. In morning wash hair a few times with dish soap before shampoo cause otherwise grease does not come out.

    Another lice tip: Put Pantene conditioner (only pantene or pantene mixed with a bit of bicarb) on dry hair. Comb through with lice comb. The pantene for some reason lets nits slide off hair shaft.

  • August 30, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Oooh, that’s a big bugger you got there Paula.

    You have my sympathy – there is nothing quite like a dose of head-lice to make one feel slightly soiled. And madly itchy of course.

    My personal tip is buy a ‘nitty gritty’ comb, smother your hair with conditioner and comb it through every other day untill you are clear three combs in a row. Nits become immune to the chemicals in the end.

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  • August 30, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    You have my sympathy. My kids gave them to me a couple of months ago and it took so long to get rid of them out of the house. About 10 treatments in all.


    Hope you are nit free tomorrow!

    Mich x

  • August 30, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    I don’t think a day passed at school without a note being sent out from one or other of the classes about the little blighters! I was always amazed that the staff didn’t succumb more often!

    Oh & how do I stop this itching now?!!

  • August 30, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    I knew I shouldn’t have read this my head is itching like crazy now! My tip would be cover your head in vaseline. Works the same way as the butter suggestion I guess by smothering the little bastards!

  • August 30, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    OK I’m itching, did think for a minute you were wanting to pass on the headlice not the lessons learnt.

  • August 30, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    Bleurgh. Bleurgh. Actually I’m with Gappy. One of those combs and conditioner do the trick in this house. Not keen on the head lotion (my daughter has sensitive skin anyway) but over the years I’ve come to find the combing conditioner through their hair night quite relaxing . . . !

  • August 30, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Thanks Susie, I’ll cancel the tickets then! I’m going for option 2 for now – conditioner and nit comb, I’m not looking this time….it’s too horrible!

  • August 30, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Soiled – that’s exactly how I feel…. Nitty Gritty is my personal fave too – that’s it in the pic above, by far the best nit comb I’ve ever used!

    Just keep combing….my new motto

  • August 30, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    I fear it might be a while – detected them in 2 out of 3 children tonight. Multiple combings have taken place! x

  • August 30, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    We get letter after letter too, and this is my second bout – weird thing is that I never had them when I was a kid!

    Ah, and no answer to the itching problem – soz about that x

  • August 30, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Lots of any conditioner on your hair before you comb stops them clinging to the hair and easier to remove with the comb. Shouldn’t have to use the Hedrin if you comb enough.

    I always itch thinking about head lice. Gah!

  • August 30, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    I now don’t feel so stupid admitting to coating my ears with vaseline this morning, hoping it would mean that they stayed away….it worked too!

  • August 30, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    I’d be more than happy to pass on the headlice, bet they’d love a bit of sun – I know I would!

  • August 30, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    LOL to the resigned tone there! Last time they all had them I had to resort to Hedrin, the combing just wasn’t shifting them all – I’ve got 72 hours to shift them before term starts…!

  • August 30, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    An itch shared is an itch halved, or something along those lines…..off to comb out (again) now

  • August 30, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Don’t forget pantene conditioner only on DRY hair.

  • August 30, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    and one more thing-a lice lady (yes they have people who do this as a job) also recommended using a ghd on the dry hair each evening for the ten or so days after delicing, plus each morning putting all linen in hot hot dryer for 15 minutes.

  • August 30, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    I’m officially buggered then – no GHDs and my tumble dryer’s broken! Wonder if anyone would like to donate me some?!

  • August 30, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    One of my worst fears is head lice because I have such long thick hair. *shudder*

  • August 30, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    They are horrible, I’m imagining the little buggers getting drunk on my blood – I mean, how dare they?!

  • August 30, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    When you said, “I’d like to share with you…” I itched even more. Ew…

    PS do you let that topsy.com thing trackback like that? I get those and ditch them as spam. Are they harmless?

  • August 30, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    I use a nitty gritty comb and conditioner, but you have me all an itch now and tomorrow morning (it is 11.52pm) I will be combing me and the boys. I HATE the things with a vengence. The last time and the only time the boys had then, I combed my tangle mass of hair and didnt find one, but itched for days and resorted to chemicals and still couldnt find any and still itch now!

  • August 31, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    i have a phobia of head lice and am terrified when my son starts school in Jan.
    Is it as simple as Hedrin? I hear all sorts of stories of never being able to get rid of them, and it sends shivers down my spine.



  • August 31, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Oh dear, I hate using the comb because I have a big mop of hair on me and it takes aaaaages, so I dread getting the note home from school about an outbreak, sigh. Oh well, one of the joys of having children 🙂 Jen

  • August 31, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Thanks for the mention. Always like to be associated with head lice. I’ve been thinking about writing a worms post. If I do, I’ll return the favour my lovely.

    PS spent all evening wondering if I’ve got nits. I’ll let you know…

  • August 31, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Thanks for sharing. In so many ways.

    We’ve recently tried the hedrin gel and found it to be very effective and quite economical as well.

    My eldest has never had her hair cut in her 7 years and can be a nightmare to rid of lice. And when she had chicken pox in her scalp…..

  • September 1, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Soz – what can I say? I’m a friendly type….

    Did you get my reply about Topsy?

  • September 1, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    It’s amazing how the itching grabs you – I’m itching just thinking of you itching…..I bet if we were in a room full of people and mentioned headlice they’d all be itching within 30 seconds!

  • September 1, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    They are pretty ubiquitous, but not impossible to get rid of. The nitty gritty combs that everyone’s mentioned are brilliant – expensive by comparison, but the only ones that work. Hedrin has worked for us and I’d use it again..

    I hate them too, just the thought of them dining out on my blood…..ew


  • September 1, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I need to stop revisiting this post – I am itching all over again now!!

  • September 1, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    I have lots of hair too – it takes forever and pulls like mad! And yes, one of the many ‘joys’ xx

  • September 1, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    LOL, that would be lovely…. that reminds me, we need to do our follow up treatment…

    I doubt you’ve got them, and if you have?… it wasn’t me x

  • September 1, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Sorry! It’s true, long hair is the worst…when we get rid of this bout my girls are spending the whole year in a shower cap, I don’t care what their friends say!

  • September 2, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Oh I am itching like mad now! My top tip though is to use a tea tree shampoo and conditioner – apparently nits don’t like the smell of tea tree (how they know that, I’m not sure..) and the condition makes it harder for the blighters to hold on to your hair 🙂

  • September 2, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    My feet now itch… what’s that about?!
    We haven’t had the dreaded nits yet but we’re only two years into school, so I’m not holding my breath just yet…!

  • September 3, 2010 at 1:57 am

    My mom is 83 and lives in a different stat so I really can’t help her. She lives by herself but has some how managed to contract lice (I’m assuming from her beauty shop) She’s treated with medicated shampoo three times now but says she’s still finding nits. Also she complains that she keeps finding them in her ears. How do you kill them in there? Also, does anyone know if a louse falls to the ground can they crawl back up your body to the scalp and nest again?

  • September 3, 2010 at 9:32 am

    it’s inevitable every time you think about them – maybe it’s thinking about them that makes them appear? Certainly feels that way…

  • September 3, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Oh yes, I’ve heard that too – I was covering my neck in tea tree moisturiser and that deffo helped a bit…should have spread it over my hair too!

  • September 3, 2010 at 9:34 am

    We didn’t have them until my eldest was 7 and since then we’ve had them at least twice. I think it’s a bigger problem than it used to be tbh… we need the return of the nit nurse!

  • September 3, 2010 at 9:37 am

    I’ve never heard of them in the ears, but it’s possible I suppose. The shampoo only kills the live lice, it doesn’t remove the eggs. She needs to be combing out – the nitty gritty combs are excellent – and hot washing all of her bedlinen and towels. Yes, lice can survive for up to 2 days away from the food source, so it’s possible that they’re crawling back somehow.

    Is there no one closer than could help her? It’s awkward to comb out and check your own head…

    Good luck getting sorted.

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  • November 17, 2011 at 4:25 am

    Most parents don’t realize that OTC lice products/shampoos can harm their child, and nowadays, many strains of lice have become immune to them anyways!

    Pesticide based lice shampoos are full of chemicals that are known or suspected to cause cancer, negatively affect the nervous system, or have other harmful effects.  The scalp is one of the most absorbent parts of the body – especially in children, and products that are applied to the scalp get picked up directly by the bloodstream, without being filtered in any way.  That means that these harmful chemicals are being put directly into your child’s system.

    The safest, most effective way of eliminating lice in your child’s hair is manual lice removal.

    To find out more, check out our site:
    Natural Choice Lice Removal (www.NaturalChoiceLiceRemoval.com)

  • February 3, 2012 at 1:54 am

    ok so pantene condi not shampoo ? and how do you find someone to do it for you ? and what is ghd ? I found out yesterday my daughter has it we treated it last night mine and her hair and her grandma and I am freaking out about them comming back they said too treat in another 7 to 9 for missed knits that could hatch when do you do panteen and use ghd on dry hair for 10 day after 2 treatment ?

  • February 3, 2012 at 1:57 am

    where did you get the comb cause the one that came with the kit for my kid sucked and the over the counter one was ok but could have been been

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