Battling head lice

Anyone who has fought the current worldwide plague of head lice will tell you they are willing to do anything, bring in any amount of heavy artillery, to defeat these pests. But it seems that the chemical solutions, while threatening to poison you and your kids, do little to rid you of the nits.

So the solution I am offering here neither chemical guns (nor roses), but combs 'n lavender.

But first I should level with you. This recommendation is based not on first hand experience (my kids are either very lucky or too standoffish: they have yet to bring lice home from school), but on the advice of my more-seasoned friends and family. I do own the comb I suggest here, but I have never put it to full use for removal, only checking, which it does very well. And the lavender suggestion is a new one, gathered during my recent trip to Provence, the home of all things lavender.

nitty gritty
The only real solution to lice, once you have an outbreak, is to manually remove both them and their eggs. There are a variety of specially-designed combs on the market, but the one that seems to do the very best job is the Nit Free Terminator Comb (in the UK it is called the Nitty-Gritty comb).

This is a metal comb with grooved teeth that, with the help of hair conditioner, is highly efficient at removing all unwelcome wildlife. The comb is available from Amazon in the US and Canada and in online or at Boots in the UK.

Of course, the best solution is never to face lice in the first place. I have long favoured tea tree shampoos as these are supposed to have some prophylactic effect (and I guess this might have helped me keep lice at bay). But tea tree oil is so strong that I have shied away from daubing it on my kids' heads.

lavender
My French friends tell me (and I have confirmed this anecdotally on line) that lavender does a similar job, but with fewer adverse side reactions (tea tree can cause rashes) and an altogether better smell. This gave me an excuse to pick up a bottle of lavender oil in a charming Provençal market this summer.

So my girls will head back to school with a spot of lavender behind their ears and a prayer that this will be another lice-free year at school. I will stand behind them, comb in hand, ready to report back.
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