Oh cr*p! I’ve got head lice

Family life

I’m a 36-year-old woman and last week I had head lice.

There. I said it. My secret is out. I have debated for a week whether to write this post or not, but I figure we’re all friends, right? And you won’t judge me, right?

I really hope not, because pretty much all school-kids get head lice at some point and as the little critters spread so quickly, I’m sure I’m not the only parent to have caught them. I’m just one of the few to admit it. Publically. On my blog!headlice

We all know that head lice only like clean hair, but who wants to confess to being a haven for icky bugs?

It was about half way through the Easter holidays when Little Miss E, my five-year-old daughter, started itching her head. It started off with her just scratching every now and again. “Maybe I’ve got nits,” she announced excitedly. “No, I’m sure you’re fine,” I replied. Little Miss E and Little Man O, her three-and-a-half year old brother, have been a bit obsessed with headlice recently. She came home from school one day near the end of term suddenly really knowledgeable about nits and asking lots of questions. Apparently some of her friends at school had been talking about them. I didn’t think anything of it at the time as she’s come home from school obsessed with lots of new things she’s learned since she started full-time school in September. I told her that sometimes just talking about nit can make you itchy. I bet you’re itchy just reading this post, aren’t you?


But then the itching escalated to full-on frantic scratching that left her hair wildly dishevelled. I gave her hair what I thought was a good check and found nothing. “Looks fine,” I told her. But still more itching. I checked again. I checked for about half an hour just before bed, meticulously combing through her hair with a Nitty Gritty comb. And then, just when I thought she was clear, I found one. Oh crap. She burst into tears. Little O ran away from her to the other side of the room. Cardiff Daddy and I exchanged panicked looks, while Baby Boy I just crawled around on the floor oblivious.

We needed some head lice shampoo. It was almost 7pm on Easter Monday and we knew all the supermarkets would be shut. Cardiff Daddy dashed out the door driving around all the smaller local shops. Four shops and not one of them sold lotion. The nearest out of hours pharmacy was a good 20 minute drive away and my children were shattered and needed to go to bed. I messaged a group of mum friends to see if anyone had any spare shampoo lying around. No one did, but one mum told me to watch what I buy because the treatment they had used had left their hair greasy for weeks. “If you’ve used the Nitty Gritty that will have got most of them anyway,” she reassured me, as I frantically googled all the latest advice on headlice.

The next morning, Cardiff Daddy left the house at 645am and went straight to Tesco to get some shampoo. The lady in the shop pointed him the direction the lotions. “She had them last week and this did the job,” her colleague said. Cardiff Daddy wasn’t sure if they were joking.

We used it on all of us. We all got combed to within an inch of our life. As I went through Little Miss E’s hair with the comb, dunking it into a bowl of water after every stroke, I discovered she actually had quite a few baby lice. One thing I have learned from my research into lice is that you can barely see the baby ones. They’re smaller than a pinhead when they’re first born and even when fully grown they’re only the size of a sesame seed. You also need to check the hair when it’s just been washed, as they can’t move on wet hair. The other thing that surprised me was that not everyone itches when they have headlice. I presumed it was the lice biting you that made you itch but no, it’s an allergy to them that causes the itching. Not everyone is allergic to them and so not everyone has the giveaway scratching. And even if you are allergic, it can take up to three months for the itching to start. By which time you’d be overrun with them.

Having my husband nit comb my hair was not what I envisaged when I made those “for better worse, in sickness and in health” vows on our wedding day. But ever the romantic, he said to me, “This reminds me of our summer ball at uni when you had your hair pinned up and I had to take out a hundred hair clips at the end of the night. You looked really beautiful that night.” And then the romance of the moment was ruined by the discovery of lice. Plural. I wanted to cry.

Over the following days, we combed and combed and shampooed again (Hedrin much more effective than Lyclear, despite being a nightmare to shampoo out of your hair) and combed some more. We hot-washed all our towels, bedding, coats, and everything we’d worn that week. We warned everyone we’d come into contact with that week to be vigilant. We warned everyone we were due to meet up with that we had been nit-treated in case they wanted to avoid us. No one did. A surprising number of them told me they too had had head lice recently. I’d had no idea. It’s not the kind of thing you see posted all over Facebook in among the cute kid photos.

I told the other parents in my daughter’s class via our Facebook group. I wanted to give them the heads-up so they could check and treat. “Please still talk to me in the playground after this confession!” I begged.

Turns out head lice have been rampant in one of the other year groups in our school since the start of the academic year. Some of the children in Little Miss E’s class, with older siblings in the school, had also been treated over the Easter holidays.

One mum thanked me for my honesty. One told me not to be embarrassed as head lice only like clean hair. I just hope everyone is as upfront if their child gets them so we can all act fast and halt their spread. “It could be so much worse,” another one said. “I saw this headline a few weeks back and it made me laugh and wince at the same time: Nits and worms epidemic hits Barnsley schools. ‘If they aren’t scratching their heads they’re scratching their arseholes,’ claims teacher.”

Okay, so the journalist in me Googled it straight away to find the full story and it’s come from the spoof Twitter account Visit Barnsley – “Pound Shop capital of the North” – but I’m sure that’s actually been the case in some school, somewhere at some point. I just hope to goodness it doesn’t happen to us.


You can read the NHS’s latest advice on headlice here.

Please tell me I’m not the only parent to have caught headlice?! Join in the chat on my Facebook page or tweet me on @cardiffmummy


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36 Comments to Oh cr*p! I’ve got head lice

  1. I am itching away! I think it’s only a matter of time before my lovely girl brings them home – last time I had them was at university, when it’s even less socially acceptable. I remember very phone my friends in huge embarrassment to let them know, at which point one told me ‘Oh yes, I had them too’ – which rather annoyed me that she hadn’t bothered to let anyone know! I’m just hoping treatments have improved as I had very long thick hair at the time and whatever removed the lice left me needing a very good cut.

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      That’s terrible she didn’t tell anyone! Quite selfish really, no matter how embarrassing it is. Hope you the head lice stay away for as long as possible x

  2. Ha! You are so not alone! The kids have had, I’ve not. The kids and me have them. Then the kids had nothing but some how I ended up with them I really don’t know what happened there! I think it’s great you could be so honest in out school they’d make you feel so embarrassed it’s def a case of treat and tue hair up and scare your kids into staying away from their mates heads haha!!

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Urgh, it is such a nightmare, isn’t it? How odd you ended up with head lice when no one else did! That’s awful they’d make you feel bad about it at school. It’s obviously come from someone else and they do spread. I’d have way more respect for someone who was honest and warned me, than someone who had them and didn’t tell anyone. x

  3. Whoops! The curse of typing on my phone! It’s a nightmare the nit situation isn’t it? They just seem to go and return immediately! I am tearing my hair out!

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Well, if you tear all your hair out, at least you won’t get any nits!! Maybe that’s the asnswer!! x

  4. I’ve been itching all day now. I’m convinced I’ve got them too – am off to get a nit comb. We often get the slip of paper saying “nits have been discovered in this class” but I don’t seem to have spotted any. Perhaps they’ve all legged it over to my head. Oh, what have you started 😉

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Haha, sorry to make you so itchy. Hope there is nothing in your hair! I am paranoid that now the schools are back after the Easter holidays, she’ll get them again. Ah well, we have loads of nit lotion left in any case!

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Ha, thank you! I have three children aged five and under, so I am sure this won’t be the last time they, or I, get headlice. Just wish everyone was so honest about it, telling the other parents, so we can all be vigilant and keep checking.

  5. This did make me itch hut I’m used to that as a teacher of little people. I never knew about the allergy thing- interesting. Nothing to be embarrassed about- happens to the best of us 🙂


    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Oh gosh, I imagine as a teacher you are always coming across head lice. The allergy thing surprised me too, I genuinely thought it was the lice biting and crawling that made you itch. Argh, I’m itching again even thinking about it! x

      • So far I’ve managed to avoid it as an adult. From the people I’ve spoken to I’m pretty sure they don’t like highlighted hair.

  6. entertainingelliot

    Lol this did make me itch!!! We’ve not had the joys of little visitors yet but I remember getting nits alot when I was a kid – my poor mum was forever buying that stinky shampoo. Please tell me the shampoo doesn’t smell as bad as it did back in the 80s?!!! It used to burn your eyes and the back of your throat!! x

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Ha, sorry to make you itchy. Isn’t it funny how even thinking about them makes people itchy. The shampoo is nowhere near as bad as I remember it, but it wasn’t great either. Hope you escape them for a while longer yet, x

  7. Yes you’re right – I am itching! Occupational hazard as both parent and teacher – I’m so paranoid. I’m sure it won’t be the last time you have to treat for them I’m afraid x

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      I’m sure you’re right this will be the first of many times. Something to look forward to!! No wonder you’re paranoid about it being a teacher, they must be continually in school. I’m all itchy again now writing about it! x

  8. My niece picks them up quite often from school and is obsessed with them, she is actually really pleased with herself when she has them and happily and loudly announces to everyone that she has them. She doesn’t quite understand that there (for some odd reason) is a shame that comes with having them. She also chases me around and tries to touch my head with hers, not good!

    Thankfully I haven’t caught them yet but my sister has!

    Leanne – A Slice of My Life Wales

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Oh bless her, that’s so funny. One of my daughter’s little friends wants headlice so he can keep them as pets!! You can imagine what his mum made of that idea! x

  9. Aggh head lice are the worst aren’t they! My eldest has had them a couple of times although luckily I’ve caught it early and the thought of them makes me itch so I Hedrin’d myself just to be sure!! You are definitely not alone!

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      They are such a nightmare! I am so paranoid about her getting them again. In fact, I’m sure this won’t be the last time we get them. Such a pain!

  10. This is one of those things that my son brought in the house with him when he started school in addition to all the bugs that are out there. We are co-sleeping and lice easily transferred from him to me to his Dad and so we are all scratching our heads together.

    Thanks for the honesty and this is such a fun read =)


    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Sorry to hear you have all been subjected to the little critters too. They are so horrible! I’m so paranoid about her catching them again at school. I’m sure this won’t be the last time x

  11. As it happens, we had a nit scare over the Easter holidays. Turned out to be a false alarm but I am fully prepared for the day it happens. Either that…or threadworms! #MMWBH

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Glad to hear it was a false alarm. I don’t even want to think about threadworms! The joys of parenthood!

  12. Oh I really can’t wait for this, (not) my head is itching just thinking about it!! I think it’s best to be honest, and tell everyone (like I apparently did when I was a child, walking in to the playground telling everyone that I had had nits… I am sure they all wanted to know!!)
    It’s just another part of school life it seems, thank goodness we have treatments for it is all I can say =)

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Yes, thank goodness for treatments. Goodness knows what people did in the olden days before they existed. I love that you walked around telling everyone. If only everyone was so honest maybe they wouldn’t spread so fast. x

  13. Oh god. I dread the day. Mainly it’s the thought of my husband having to comb my hair. Last time he came anywhere near my hair with a comb we ended up getting scissors involved! 🙁
    Thanks for linking up #FridayFrolics

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Hope they stay away for as long as possible, Not nice at all. I’m intrigued about your husband’s hair combing though and wondering how he managed to make such a mess you needed it cut!

  14. You’re definitely not the only parent to have caught headlice. Since Jessica started preschool I have been making sure I check her hair regularly and we have had them a couple of times – Hedrin has worked quite well for us at getting rid of them too.

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Oh poor you having it a couple of times. They are such a nightmare. The Hedrin was great stuff. We have stocked up in case we need it in the future!

  15. Head lice are just one of natures little buggars that can infect us all, regardless of our age! No judging here! Bless you though, I had them years ago {my son brought them home from school – typical!} and they are a NIGHTMARE! We used Hedrin and it worked a treat!! Thanks so much for linking up with #MMWBH x

  16. Headlice… thread worm… impetigo… They do like to share don’t they?!? Try adding a few drops of tea tree oil to whatever shampoo or conditioner you use as it’s a natural headlice repellant, and much cheaper than buying the special prevention shampoos and conditioners. We’ve been doing that since C’s second dose of the dreaded lice, and so far so good. I’ve managed to get away with just one infestation myself – hopefully never again!

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