5/09/2010

How I found a bug on my head. And why I'm happy about it.

As 'The Nice Lice Lady', I am in frequent contact with head lice. Because of this, I have my own head checked regularly for lice and nits. My buddy does a quick check of my head daily, and I check the heads of my children. I also comb my hair thoroughly each time I'm in the shower or bath.

Today I was having a nice Mother's Day bath and combing my hair, alternating between using a fine-toothed plastic baby comb and a metal lice comb. I like using both because the plastic comb goes through the hair faster, but the metal comb squeezes the hair more. When combing, I put hair conditioner in my hair to keep my hair wet and to make combing easier. Also, please understand that I'm not just combing my hair long enough to get tangles out. I'm combing for upwards of one hour - combing from under the hair, over the hair, from back to front and from front to back. I scanned the comb after every stroke to see if I had found anything. I had never had head lice in my hair ever since becoming a professional lice remover.

Until today. I found a tiny louse and I was giddy. There are two reasons that I was happy about what I found:

1. This proves my point that EVERYONE can get head lice. It is not a problem that is limited to children, people with poor hygiene, or those living in third-world conditions.


2. This also proves that regular checking works. My head was NOT ITCHY. I did not expect to find anything. It was a routine combing that kept this problem from being unchecked and becoming a big issue. If you are a health care professional, a child care worker, or a school teacher, you should be checking for head lice on a weekly, if not on a daily, basis.

Of course, once I found something, I kept on combing. In the end, I found 3 eggs and 1 bug in total. What did I do next? I got out of the bath, put my brushes and combs into a tall clean spaghetti can and poured boiling water over them. I got my kids some breakfast, took one of my brushes and went to dry my hair. Using cool air, I dried my hair in sections making sure to really dry out my scalp. Then I asked my buddy to check my head again. He found no nits or bugs. However, because a bug had been found earlier, I will continue to give my head a lengthy combing and hair drying everyday for at least 10 days. Also, the rule in our house is that if a louse is found on one head, all heads get a thorough check. (Update: No one but me had any head lice. Hurrah.)

Believe it or not, this reminds me of a Chicken Soup for the Soul story. A woman wrote about how she used to hate the sound of an ambulance siren. It made her sad to think that someone was hurting or in dire need. Then, her son became an EMT. Understaning her son's training and experience, the sound of a siren had new, positive meaning for her. It meant that help was on the way.

Finding this bug did not make me upset at all. It was a happy reminder that the advice I am giving about head lice actually works. The steps I ask you to take are the same that I take with my own family. Good luck.

(Update - it has been over two weeks since this post was written and not one more bug or egg has been found on my head.)

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Cathy,

I have found your site extremely informative and friendly. I just want to know how you think you got the lice. I'm sure in your profession you do not leave your hair loose or let it drape over any of your customers!

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

At the time of that post, my daughters had some neigbourhood friends that were always coming over and they always had head lice. I had offered to do combings for free but their mother didn't want me to. (It is this shame, this stigma, about head lice that seems to make us reluctant to talk to others about it or ask for help!) These little girls were very sweet and "huggy" and would sit next to me on the couch hug all of us before they left. Since head lice do not scare me or my children, I never stopped these kids from coming into my home and we never refused a hug. We just made sure to check ourselves regularly, itchy or not. Head lice can come from anybody and so you truly never know who you got it from, but this is what I have always suspected. Regardless of where the louse came from, I was truly so happy to find it because it just reinforced what I knew to be true - regular lice checks through wet combing really work.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cathy, thank you for this post it has helped me tremendously. Today was the last day of our vacation Bible school and my 3 year old came home. She has very fine light blonde hair, so spotting 1 bigger louse was pretty easy.My question is if I only found 1 bigger louse and about 15 or 20 nits, and treated do you think she may have just had 1?? I just cant figure it out. I am glad that I only found 1 and hopefully I got them all. Any suggestions?

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

Anytime there is one louse, you should always check for more. You should be combing her hair with a good lice comb every 2-3 days until you have had two weeks of combing with no new nits or lice. When you say you treated the hair, did you do a good combing? Wet combing is the best way to detect head lice. It is pretty clear that the problem was discovered before things got out of hand and if she does have more lice, they will be easily dealt with. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

My daughter had head lice almost a month ago. I got rid of it but I found a nit towards the end of her hair. I did a comb through and found nothing. An this be a new infestation or a nit left behind?

themodernio said...

About a month ago I went through the frustrating 3-step process to rid myself of lice. After doing this I waited a week and then did it again to make sure. It has been a month and my scalp is still pretty irritated and I have that occasional crawly feeling. (I'm afraid this might be paranoia). I'm at a loss for what to do. I've switched to doing a tea tree oil treatment multiple nights a week followed by combing in the morning. What should I do? I've even gone to the doctor.

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

With head lice, you have to trust what you actually find, not just what you feel. If you are doing wet combings and finding no new bugs, the itchiness can definitely be paranoia.

If you haven't found any new bugs, I would probably discontinue all work on the head for a while. Tea tree oil, over washing, even over combing can become a scalp irritant which for some people can lead to itching. Do a routine combing once in a while and then do no more than your regular hair washing routine.

As for the frustrating 3 step process, I don't know what that is. If you find lice again, just do some regular wet combings with conditioner and a good metal lice combing.

Good luck.

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

One more thing...
That crawly feeling is probably all in your mind. We don't feel the crawl of head lice. We usually don't even feel them eating until after they've left their snacking site. Like a mosquito bite, we react to the substance they produce to keep our blood from clotting while they are eating.

Anonymous said...

Hey Cathy,
I just started college this year and got lice for the very first time about a month ago. I had a lot of nits and only 2 bugs. I did the whole cleaning routine and was buggy free. I didn't perform regular combing which I know was bad but I was completely clear. Now, I'm getting dark specks in my dandruff. When I had lice I had this also but I never had any get on my pillow or collar or anything. I have had my boyfriend search my hair a million times and he hasn't found anything but old nits (dyed black from my hair dye so they're SUPER dead and I know they sound like bugs but they aren't I'm positive.) I have a very irritated scalp regularly so itching is normal for me but the black specks worry me like it's louse droppings. I read online that it can be dirt or product build up. After I wash my hair, I don't have the specks but days after I wash it I do. Do you think it's likely it's dirt even though I'm 18 and not rolling around in the dirt like a kid might?

Unknown said...

Not sure if you are still responding since this is an older post but worth a shot. Last night I found one louse on my son's head during his bath. I then combed through all his hair and his sisters hair as well as my husband's and he combed mine. We found nothing, no other lice and no nits. Is this possible to only have one louse or are we missing something? If so, how could there only be one?

Unknown said...

My daughter had lice after school was out for the summer so i think she got them at school. I treated her and combed then put coconut oil in her har for 3 hrs and then combed until i didn't get any in the comb. I was recently looking through her hair and found nits. Idk if they're old or recent so i did the treatment again and combed and found no live lice. I combed through my hair which i had put coconut oil in and found about 10 live lice but no nits! Is this possible? I combed through my sons and only found 1 live lice and no nits either. How is this possible? What should i do?

Anonymous said...

I had lice over the summer and I had hundreds, since I didn't know until one fell in my cereal. My parents took care of it and I didn't have lice for about 2 or 3 months until I got lice again. This was a couple of weeks ago but not too long ago. I took care of that problem by myself. About 2 days ago I put a lice killing kit on my head and I started to brush my hair a lot. I didn't find any live lice in my hair until today. I found a small live louse in my hair I killed it and I found about 4 nits. I combed my hair many times and didn't find anything. Just a few moments ago I found a recently hatched nit in the same spot where I found the live louse. I killed it and now I'm kinda scared since I have school tomorrow and I think my friend has lice since she keeps scratching her head on the sides , but I'm afraid to ask her if she really does. Now I'm going to stay away from her and keep my hair up and safe. Since I found nits and a live lice in my hair how do I get rid of them for sure without another treatment? And how do I prevent myself from getting lice again?

Mental health worker said...

I'm responding to the last post dated Nov. 8th, 2016. I'm offering an opinion because I see that the lice lady has not responded for two years. Access your local health unit. I'm not discrediting your parents for doing their best to help, however it sounds like you have had repeated infestations, so you may want to seek the help of a professional. We had a public health nurse come a year and a half ago, and she was fantastic. If you google: "integrated pest management," you may find more steps that need to be taken beyond combing and treatments. For example, the clothes you wear, your bedding, any objects that have cloth material need to be laundered with high heat. If something cannot be laundered, tie it up in a garbage bag for two weeks--this will suffocate lice and their eggs. Other household members need to be checked. Bed, bedroom, etc. need to be vacuumed thoroughly. Enlist the help of you parents as well, as it is a big job. I wish you th best

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

Hi, great advice. I find public health nurses to be much more effective than doctors in identifying head lice. However, most will not remove the head lice and most will just recommend another treatment - and lice are becomming resistant to these treatments. Regarding the laundering and bagging of items, research has shown that this does next to nothing in the fight against head lice and what it does do is use up precious time and energy. My recommendation, as always, is to do wet combing witj a good lice comb as recommended on this blog. It is inexpensive and effective.

Unknown said...

Hi Cathy..I've been reading everything on here. And I have a question..both of my daughters got lice. I've been washing their hair everyday w/Nix and combing out afterwards. Am I doing this correct? And am I supposed to comb out w/dry or wet hair?
Also as much as I tried to be careful w/myself..I just felt an itch in my head and a sensation of crawling and to my surprise a lice fell out. But I haven't seen any nits in my hair? Is this possible? All I have is the itch and the crawling sensation in my head. Please help!

E said...

Hi Cathy..I've been reading everything on here. And I have a question..both of my daughters got lice. I've been washing their hair everyday w/Nix and combing out afterwards. Am I doing this correct? And am I supposed to comb out w/dry or wet hair?
Also as much as I tried to be careful w/myself..I just felt an itch in my head and a sensation of crawling and to my surprise a lice fell out. But I haven't seen any nits in my hair? Is this possible? All I have is the itch and the crawling sensation in my head. Please help!

Christina Bartels said...

Please help. I have 2 daughters ages 11.5 and 8. I moved a year ago and ever since then both my girls and I keep getting lice. I've done regular treatments and home remedies as well as regular combing. My 8 year old just got sent home last week with them. So of course I did everyone's hair including my own. For some strange reason my hair had only lots of little tiny lice and no eggs at all.I find this strange...should I be concerned?

Anonymous said...

I just found a single bug on my head. No one else in my family seems to have any. I work in a hospital and think that's how I may have gotten it. I had my daughter check for nits and she couldn't find any, nor anymore lice. As a precaution I soaked my head and hair in white vinegar for 15 minutes then showered and put a very liberal amount of conditioner im my hair. I combed with a fine tooth comb with still no signs of more lice or nits. I have done this in the past with my kids and it worked. I will repeat that in a week. I also did the usual laundering of linens, towels clothes etc. Not gonna lie though, this was very stressful. It's been over 10 years since I've had to do this.

Anonymous said...

Lot of good, and bad information here.
First of all, if you find lots of little lice and no eggs, just means they hatched recently but have not matured enough to lay eggs yet.
As well, lice will die in 24 hours when off of a hosts head, and the nits will not hatch if they are not attached to your hair close to your scalp. So you don't need to bag things for weeks.
Plus lice cannot jump or travel off of the head in any meaningful way.
If you treat your lice and they come back in a week or two, means you missed some nits (eggs) and they have hatched.
Good luck everyone!

Anonymous said...

I should clarify that I mean some of the comments has incorrect info, the Nice Lice Lady is bang on!

Unknown said...

Just recently found lice in my 6 year olds hair...i wet and comb her hair everyday I went from finding 10 to 15 small live lice and hundreds of nits to finding only 4 live lice and no nits...lice lay eggs and those eggs could take up to 7 to 10 days to hatch lice also don't lay eggs until they themselves are around 7 to 10 days old so regular combing will get all the lice out of your hair stop freaking out about lice and stop buying expensive lice shampoos that don't work...they are annoying but they are treatable

Anonymous said...

Hello Cathy,
Thank you for sharing your story!
Yesterday I got exposed to contact with children, twice, in different places, I'm a tennis trainer for children and a babysitter! I got some hugs and I hugged others ofcourse. At night I started feeling some itchiness around my neck and a bit on my forehead. But I didn't think it was that serious since I have a moderate-dry scalp. Today while I was sitting and studying I itched my scalp and one lice falls out dead. I wonder how come it is dead? If I got infected yesterday from one of the kids that hugged me, how could it be so that a lice fell out already dead with no treatment what so ever? Could it be that I itched it and killed it? and could it be so by any chance that only ONE lice got into my scalp? It is possible that I killed the only living lice on my head?
Another question I'm wondering about it whether you think I should change my bed sheets and all already? or do I wait till I'm sure there are no lice crawling on my head? It's freaking me out especially now when I'm in such a critical time and have so much to be done with.

Thanks in advance,
Sincerely,
Joanna

Unknown said...

Please help me... I am having anxiety... I found nits on my 2 year old... I feel like a horrible mother... I treated her hair and combed it and then pulled all the ones I saw manually... then I had my friend check me and she found 3 nits but they appeared to be dead like my daughters.. flat and white... how could this be.. am I missing something... I found no bugs and no live nits... what happened

Anonymous said...

Hey Cathy. I have a question. Me and my sister were staying the night at our grandmother's house, and my grandma found out that my sister had a baby louse on her head. We did treatment and I combed through my hair and found no live bugs only 1 nit.how is this possible? Can you pick up only 1 nit on bedding? I had played on her bed the day before we found out..... Could I have gotten only 1 nit from her bed? She has been complaining about itching after treatment. Should I stay away? Please shed some lght on this. Thanks Cathy.

WillowRainJames said...

I found 1 very alive adult female on my son today. My girls are in school and have never had lice before. We had their first sleepover this weekend, as well as spent time with girl scouts and had a few in the van. My son was only around the 1 girl. Now, could this adult one have crawled on him from the floor or couch or something? I checked everyone and made them shower, combed through, nothing. So strange.

Unknown said...

Hello Cathy! I really need some help here. My 6 YO daughter has lice. I've done two treatments over the last two weeks and there are still nits and bugs . Checked my two sons hairs and low and behold big ol bugs. I have a three month old I'm so scared. My husband and I did our sons hairs last night with the nit comb and treated it. Walked in today and the shirt my husband was wearing last night when he combed their hair had a huge louse on it crawling around. Checked my head the last three days no eggs no nothing then check it tonight and pull one live louse out decent size. a couple eggs too. I've sprayed furniture have everything in laundry room to dry, wash, dry again. Could I have got a louse on me from combing the kids hair??? IDK how to get rid of it with all of us having them. This is my first time and I am freaking out.

Anonymous said...

While giving my eleven month old son a bath my husband found a little bug that looks like a louse. We combed through his hair and didn’t see any other bugs or nits (he is very fair so everything stands out). We checked my long hair and our older son but didn’t see anything. If we don’t see anything else and it was just the one louse, what is the best course of treatment? I don’t want to use unnecessary chemicals as he is so young.

WillowRainJames said...

Follow up. I found ZERO things on my kids, and then went on vacation, and 5 days later my youngest daughter complained that she was itching. I found 1 large louse, around 30 hatchlings, and tons of eggs. So that 1 little louse was busy and setting up shop. THen my older daughter had 1 adult, 5 babies, and 30 eggs. So, since I did not know what I was looking for the first time, I missed possibly just 3 tiny eggs that turned into this. So we treated with Lice Free homeopathic spray, been wet combing daily, it's been a few days since we have seen anything but I am still combing through with the lice comb. What a horrible 2 weeks.