08 May 2013

Interview with a Nit Buster

***WARNING: Content may cause reflexive itching***

I absolutely freaking HATE head lice.
If I see one of my kids scratching and my heart sinks, stomach clenches and hair starts itching all at the same time.
Even worse is the Walk of Shame exit from the hairdresser after they've called you over to reveal crawling things.
"Sorry but we can't cut his/her hair today. Treat them and bring them back..."
This was me five weeks ago.

Since the utterance of those humiliating words I began the quest to return my family to nit-free status.
I tried everything.
The herbal oil the salon recommended. Treated and combed through three times. EACH.
The strongest chemicals the chemist could sell me. Treated and combed through twice more. EACH.

Those worked for me last time we were infested two years ago, but this time no matter what I did I just could not break the cycle. Those creepy little blighters kept coming back.

In desperation and with RSI from all those hours spent pointlessly bloddy nit-combing, I decided to try googling some nit busting professionals. Surely there must be someone out there able to help me and in return I could write about the experience on my blog?

Google worked it's magic and I stumbled upon The Nit Crew website. They are the only one of it's kind in New Zealand and use an FDA-cleared medical device which is revolutionary in it's approach and effectiveness.

From the website: The Nit Crew, powered by the LouseBuster™ medical device, provide a revolutionary new way to kill head lice & nits without using pesticides or other chemicals. Clinical studies have shown that the device, which uses only controlled heated air, provides a very safe, fast and highly effective way to kill all stages of head lice – including lice eggs! ...One, single 30-minute LouseBuster™ treatment is all that is needed to kill head lice and nits. The clean, dry treatment uses only controlled heated air. No water and no gooey mess.

It sounded perfect to me.Best of all was having somebody who actually knows how to kill those buggers once and for all.
Hiria from The Nit Crew came as fast as she could, allowing plenty of time to check and treat us all if necessary.
Turns out my efforts with the boys and myself had actually worked, but Miss Fab's long locks were defeating me.

Hiria did a dry-comb and discovered six "babies" which would have happily recolonised my daughter's head if left to their own evil devices. (Phew, so glad I called in a professional! Soooo sick of repeating the treatment over and over).

While Hiria treated Miss Fab, I took the opportunity to ask her some questions, which I will share here with you, to help you in your battle against Nits (actually the correct term is HEAD LICE - apparently "Nits" are the eggs).

So here's my Interview with a Louse (& Nit) Buster...

[Hiria searches for lice with her 7x Magnifying goggles]
What makes Nits and head lice so hard to kill?
They have no natural predator, and the chemical shampoos only work on the nervous system of the louse - leaving eggs (nits) to hatch and repeat the cycle. It only takes one pregnant louse or one male and one female and you are right back where you started. (Tell me about it. They're like the cockroaches of the louse world.)

Why are nit and head lice shampoos not working like they used to?

Some Harvard studies suggest there is evidence that nits and head lice are building up an immunity or tolerance towards the chemicals which used to be effective. There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence, in the stories my clients tell me. (Yep, that's what I thought. It just seems to get harder to get rid of the buggers.)

Some of my friends swear by conditioner+combing as the only way to get rid of nits. How effective is this?
Well, sure it's effective. But you'd need to comb every day for an hour a day for about three weeks to make sure you break the cycle. And if you have more than one kid...? (Say no more. It's torture.)

What if I miss a nit or two? Will I be reinfested and how long will it take?
One louse by itself can't do much damage apart from biting you for 30-odd days. But if you miss a male and a female... or if the one you miss happens to be a pregnant (or already-mated) female... you're in trouble. It takes six days for a baby louse to hatch from a freshly laid egg...

[Just to be sure Hiria carefully dry-combs the hair as well]
At what point in their life cycle do nits "travel" - do the babies walk or just adults?
Any age. Babies and adults. They spread from head-to-head contact, they can't jump, they walk.

How long does it take to break the cycle?
A nit's life cycle is 30-35 days, and towards the end of their life they seem to go to work to spread themselves around even more. It takes around three weeks of combing to break the cycle. (Ouch.)

How does your treatment work and what makes it better than the other options?
Our treatment works by dehydrating the nits and lice. This is effective particularly against the eggs, unlike the chemicals which work on the nervous system of the lice. Eggs less than four days old haven't yet developed a nervous system and will be unaffected and will go on to hatch, requiring repeated treatment which gets expensive and is a pain. Our treatment works straight away, it uses heat, just enough to dehydrate the nits and lice but not enough to burn the scalp. It is 99% effective at killing the eggs and over 95% effective on the live lice, so we recommend nit-combing for a few days to be sure all debris is removed. On occasion if someone has a severe infestation, we recommend a follow-up comb-out by ourselves.

How can I protect my kids (and myself) from catching nits again?
The trick is to catch them early before they have a chance to lay eggs. If you do a hard-brush over a basin or nit comb regularly with a fine tooth comb, you should be able to catch it early and stop a major infestation. If you wear white or do it over white paper you will clearly be able to see if anything drops out.

How vigorous do I need to be with bed linen, hats and clothing? Do I need to wash everything?
The lice can live off the scalp for approximately 36 hours, so nits can still be attached to bedding and clothes and reinfect people. It's not the washing that will kill the nits - lice can survive underwater for two hours! It's heat. Obviously if it's due for a wash, wash them otherwise if it's already clean, you can pop the clothes and linen, cushion covers etc in the dryer for half an hour or hang them outside in the sunshine for a couple of days. The heat will dehydrate the nits and lice therefore killing them. You should also vacuum the sofa and carpets. Pop hair-ties, combs and brushes into a pot of boiling water. It's the heat that kills them.

Wow. All this time I've been rewashing a houseful of bedding and clothes every time I nit-combed, when all I needed to do was heat treatment. Thank you Hiria, you have just saved me hours and hours of laundry.

So does this mean that my GHDs would kill nits too?
Well, yes, but only the adult lice, because they can't get to the eggs and babies which are right on the scalp. But GHDs and blowdryers certainly help discourage them.

OK, some other myths and legends about nits... can you tell me:

Is it true that lice are attracted more to clean hair? No Lice will take any kind of hair they can get, clean or dirty they don't care.

Is it true that nits are more easily caught in the swimming pool? Well, it's possible a nit or louse could be floating clinging on to a strand of hair that could come in contact with your head... But mostly they just travel head-to-head. If you're worried get your kids to wear swim caps.

[Applying the hot-air treatment]

Phew. I have learnt so much today. And now I've been given the all-clear by Hiria. Me and the boys are nit free, and now Miss Fab is too, thanks to Hiria's magic space-age hair-heater aka the LouseBuster.

OK, so if you are feeling itchy and paranoid right now, and you're all worried that you/your kids might have nits, you can check by getting a fine-tooth comb, putting on a white t-shirt and dry nit combing your hair over a paper towel. If anything moving falls out, give Hiria a call (if you are in Auckland) on Freephone: 0508 077 099, or visit the Nit Crew website. There is loads more helpful information on the Nit Crew fact page.

The Nit Crew are new on Facebook, and Hiria is running a special promotion... if you are one of the first 25 people to "Like" them on Facebook,you will go in the draw to receive a free Nit/head lice check or if you have a de-lousing treatment in May 2013, you will go into the draw to have it for free worth RRP$138. Call Freephone: 0508 077 099 to book.

[Finally... nit free!]

P.S. When I am getting grossed out by Head Lice, I turn to this South Park Episode, called "Lice Capades" and I feel better (as I destroy their communities and murder their little lice babies). Watch it and Itch.

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