Just talking about head lice makes us start to itch, but we’re adults, so surely we can’t catch the little blighters, right? Wrong. Adults can and do get nits and head lice.
The litte beasts are just looking for a warm and cosy head to lay their eggs on and to feast off your scalp. That’s your scalp, your child’s scalp, any old scalp, as long as there is hair – the lice don’t care.
How common are head lice and nits in adults?
According to anecdote, we’ve found nits and head lice are surprisingly common among adults – when we asked on Facebook and among our friends, at least (we’ll share some of those stories in a bit).
And you’re way more likely to get them if you live with kids or work with kids and are in close contact with them – as that’s where you’ll normally get them from.
So, first rule of thumb: if your child or children has/have nits, family GP, Dr Philippa Kaye (read more about Philippa on her dedicated website), tells us, it’s important to make sure all members of the household get checked for them.
What should you do if you’ve got nits or head lice?
While you might feel a bit embarrassed (though there’s no need to be) or in shock if you get nits – as you thought they were a child-only thing, it’s important not to bury your (itchy) head in the sand – and get them treated.
You may never have dreamed you’d get head lice as an adult, but if you do, you’ll need a treatment.
Head lice products offer a head lice and nit remedy in the form of a lotion, spray or 15 minute shampoo, which you can apply to yourself, so you can be rid of those critters and visit the hairdressers knowing there won’t be any embarrassing situations (hooray!).
And now for stories from some mums who’ve experienced nits and head lice as adults firsthand….
“I gave birth with head lice”
Mum Sophie G tells us emotions were running high as she waited for her 6-year-old son to come to the hospital to meet his baby sister for the first time.
“His Grandma had dressed him in his smartest clothes and his little face was full of wonder as he came onto the ward,” she says. “I’d not seen him for nearly 48 hours and couldn’t wait to give him a kiss and a cuddle.
“As he climbed onto my bed, I leaned in and ruffled his hair…. then I spotted the first of MANY lice.
“Twenty-four hours later our newborn had to fend for herself as I discovered me, my husband, and my son, were all infested. I’d actually given birth with lice. Not quite the homecoming we were going for.”
A weekend away, with lice
Stacey B was looking forward to a lovely weekend away with a friend and her kids and their kids. “We’d booked a really nice hotel and as it was a glorious day, we unpacked our stuff and off we went to the beach,” she reveals.
“We were so organised with buckets and spades, all the gubbins, when my friend’s son started scratching his head.
“My friend made a joke about it and the kids carried on playing but by the end of the afternoon, all the kids were scratching their heads and so were my friend and I.
“We all sat on the beach in a line while my friend became the designated nit nurse, checking us all: and yup, we all had nits, including me and her.
“I headed off in the car for a long drive to find a chemist for the nit treatment.
“We then spent the rest of the afternoon and the whole evening back in our beautiful hotel room, using the treatment and combing. What a great start to our weekend adventure!”
The unsexist moment of this mum’s life
And finally, this from Dani G: “My daughter seems to catch nits at least once a year. I’d just treated her for them, and she has super thick hair, so it takes me a good few hours to do a proper job removing the lice and the nits.
“Later that evening, I was itching like crazy, but thought it was just paranoia after the day I’d had.
“So I went upstairs, stood in front of the bathroom mirror and start dry combing my hair over the sink with the nit comb. Right there, before my very eyes, a big fat louse dropped into the sink.
“My heart sank as I stripped down, and start squirting the worst, oily head lice killer on my hair, and started combing and combing.
“After about an hour, I was still combing, and I had a sink full of lice and eggs, lice treatment dripping off me, when my husband casually strolled in and offered to help.
“It was possibly the most soul destroying, unsexiest moment of my life – even more than the fact I pooped while giving birth!”