My preteen son came home from 12 days of sleepaway camp this summer with a bucket full of wonderful memories and, alas, a head full of lice.
We had dodged the critters for more than a decade and I remember being so thankful every time a friend told me his or her child had lice and my son’s head was free of the crawly pests.
About two weeks after he arrived home, I woke up in the middle of the night frantically scratching my head. I couldn’t stop, I was so itchy. It didn’t take long for it to dawn on me that I probably had lice.
The next day I asked my son, “Has your head been itchy recently?” To which he nonchalantly replied, “Oh yeah, really itchy.”
“Since when?” I asked.
“Ever since camp,” he said.
I guess those lice checks they do before setting off to camp aren’t foolproof.
As I headed to the pharmacy to pick up a lice-killing shampoo, I called a friend who had a neighbour with four kids who has dealt with her fair share of these pesky buggers over the years. I paid her to come over and remove the lice and pick out the nits (eggs) right after we had done the treatment.
About an hour into the unpleasant escapade, she set down the comb with a look of defeat on her face. She told me that it would take hours and hours to do this job and, even then, she couldn’t guarantee he would be nit/lice free. He was infested. The best thing to do, she said, would be to have his head shaved.
My son looked up at me like someone had just told him the world was about to end. Tears filled his eyes and he said, “If you make me get my head shaved, I’m telling you now, I AM NOT GOING TO SCHOOL FOR THREE WEEKS, AND I MEAN IT!”
I called his hairdresser, who told me that no salon would take a kid with lice. I wondered if I was going to have to shave his head myself. Soon after, my sister called with the name of a hairdresser who would cut my son’s hair very, very short. So we compromised on shaved sides and back of head but with a funky style up top.
About a week later, and having been remiss about doing the second treatment and picking out remaining nits on a daily basis, we both still had lice.
Time to call in the professionals, I decided. Sick of the incessant itching and umpteen loads of laundry, I called Wendy the Lice Fairy. Wendy, the founder of this lice-removal company, was out of town, but she put me in touch with someone else from her crew.
Elsa the Lice Fairy arrived at my door at 4 p.m. and started with me. After just a few minutes of checking out my scalp, she spotted some nits and began applying a non-toxic treatment that stuns any live lice so they can’t move. She then separated my hair with clips, rubbed in conditioner and went through each section with a comb to remove lice and their nits.
It took one hour for her to do the treatment for me and my son. Along with the $70-per-hour fee, you must purchase a kit that costs $115. The kit includes a non-toxic treatment (used that day), a repellant spray to deter lice in the future, a heavy duty stainless steel comb, clips to section off hair and a plastic comb. There is also a travel fee (cost depends on where you live) if the fairies come to your house rather than you going to them (they live on the West Island).
During the treatment, Elsa gave my son and I a briefing about lice:
- They don’t fly
- They don’t jump (they only crawl)
- They spread through direct hair-to-hair contact (be wary of taking selfies!) and by sharing hats, combs, hairbrushes and headphones.
- They can only live without a host (a human head) for up to two days.
- You don’t need to wash every piece of clothing and bedding to kill them.
- Put pillowcases (and sheets, if you or your child moves around a lot) in the dryer for 20 minutes — it is the heat that kills the lice.
- Never share a hairbrush; each family member should have his/her own.
- Remove hair from your brushes and then put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them.
Elsa recommended that we continue putting conditioner and combing through our hair for the next seven days to make sure we get all the nits.
One of the good aspects of this lice service is that when the “fairy” leaves, you know the job has been done thoroughly by a professional and they have educated you at the same time about how to do the treatment at home by yourself should re-infestation occur at another time.
You’ve got the treatment, clips and the comb — and are ready to turn into a fairy yourself.
For more information, visit wendythelicefairy.com.
For more information about the Canadian Pediatric Society lice recommendations, visit cps.ca and type “lice” into the search bar.