I've got thick unruly curls. They are not conducive to
louse-hunting. It takes three long, itchy days to persuade my
husband to check my hair. To convince him that just maybe I'm
not being ridiculous and that the itch from the
suggestion of lice would have worn off by now.
He goes in. "Hmm. Yup that looks like a bug." He's
totally unconcerned about it. I react as if I'd just been
diagnosed with the plague. He scowls at me. "It's a nuisance.
My itch increases exponentially at the confirmation of
bugs. I envision shaving my head and living in quarantine
until the infestation is gone. I know it's just hair. It's
just bugs. But ... gross. I have bugs in my hair. How
You feel dirty when there are bugs crawling, living and
breeding on you. Knowing that head lice aren't caused by lack
of hygiene does not help.
I don't use pesticides on my lawn and I'm not about to
use them on my head. I send my husband to the drugstore for an
herbal head-lice shampoo, a safe natural treatment that kills
lice on contact. Use every other day for 7 to 10 days to avoid
re-infestation. Voila. You are lice-free.
I use the shampoo three times in two days. He rechecks
my hair. "There's just a couple in here."
Just a couple? Having just a couple of bugs is okay? I
frantically douse my head again. Then wash all the towels and
bedding for the third time in three days.
I avoid people. I have to tell those who I've come in
contact with about it. It's embarrassing but necessary. My
neighbor and I had looked over his résumé on my laptop during
the week. He just laughs when I tell him. He would. He's
But I take heart. Maybe telling people won't be so bad.
My daughter sneaks into her friend's house. I stand in their
doorway and tell them of my plight. They take a large step
backward. It's instinctive. They try to downplay it. But
they've done it. I take my daughter home.
Even my son hangs back when I try to hug him goodnight.
"Do you still have those things in your hair, Mom?"
I can't handle it. The itch. The embarrassment. The
fear that I'm going to share my lice with others. It's time to
do more than "gently deal with the little mites." Give me
I go back to the pharmacy. "You've been using the
herbal shampoo for more than three days and you're still
finding eggs? It's time to step up the fight."
I couldn't agree more.
"You are using the nit comb aren't you? It's essential.
The shampoo kills the bugs but is not effective on the eggs.
You have to go through her hair with the comb."
He assumes the lice are in my 4-year-old's hair.
"It's not her hair, it's mine," I reluctantly mumble.
"Oh." He's speechless. Mothers aren't supposed to get
lice. Just kids. And me.
The warning on the bottle says: "Treatment may make
your scalp itchy." I love it when the treatment creates the
same effect as the problem.
It takes my husband a painful hour to go through my
bushy hair with the nit comb.
The first time, we're not even speaking to each other.
He's mad at me for making a big deal of our new pets, not
trusting the first treatment and not assuming that the itch is
just a reaction to the shampoo. I'm mad at him for not
checking my head sooner, and not understanding why I feel like
a leper — one who has done way too much laundry.
I offer to get the shears so he can shave my head and
save us both from the hassle of nitpicking. Fortunately, he's
more patient and reasonable than I am. With the comb in one
hand and the scissors in the other to cut out the tats that
just won't co-operate, he goes through my hair strand by
strand. I have to sit and trust that he doesn't miss any. It's
It's Day 7: Tonight's comb-through will determine
whether I shave my head, or celebrate — in a crowd.
Writer and editor Evangeline Moffat is a mother
of three who lives — lice-free — in Brampton.