PLease say this is all in my mind
April 26, 2008 6:38 AM   Subscribe

Describe for me if you would the itching sensation you felt when you had lice

A friend's daughter had lice back at Christmastime ... they treated her and everything is fine. I baby sat for her two weeks ago and was lying on her bed watching TV ever since I have felt really itchy. I don't itch constantly, but I do feel these sort of sharp pricks on my scalp that HAVE to be itched - i would say this happens every 20 minutes or more if I'm thinking about it. Is this just my mind playing tricks on me? I mean, i don't recall us having any scalp contact. This is really annoying me right now! I had lice as a child but I don't remember knowing I had it until the school nurse told me.
I'm planning to go to the dermatologist to have someone look at my scalp week after next but I am itchy until then! I tried to go to my general practice doctor this week but he refused to look saying he didn't know anything about it.
posted by chickaboo to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
It could be your mind, but the best way to know for sure is to get your scalp under a really bright light and have someone look for it by parting your hair into small sections and looking at it closely. It will be immediately apparent if you have it. You'll have small white globular eggs on the hairs and probably at least a few full-grown lice will be visible. If having someone do this isn't feasible, go to a drugstore and get a nit comb and go through your hair in small sections yourself. If you see this, you have lice.

(Your GP is either very dumb or very brilliant -- I can't decide which. Either way, it's pretty screwed up he'd refuse to help with something this basic.)
posted by melissa may at 6:50 AM on April 26, 2008

From what I remember as a child, the itchiness does feel like someone very small is walking around on your head. Definitely do the nit comb thing if you're really worried. The nit comb will pull the eggs out if they're there. If the comb pulls out a bunch of little white things, roll them under your nails. If you hear a "pop" as you crush them, that's a louse egg. If not, it's likely just some shampoo residue or something. Wow, I remember a lot from getting lice 20 years ago.
posted by sweetkid at 6:55 AM on April 26, 2008

I've never had lice, but my kids both had them when they were younger. I don't remember them being itchy at all. We only found out they had them after my daughter's school nurse checked everyone during an outbreak, and then we discovered that my son had them too.

(And I agree with melissa may about your general practioner. How could a general practioner not know about lice?)
posted by amyms at 7:25 AM on April 26, 2008

I don't remember itching at all. I had it a few times as a kid (summer camp) and my mom always was the first to notice.
posted by mds35 at 7:30 AM on April 26, 2008

My children brought some home for me briefly, and as I remember they felt exactly as you would expect - a tiny movement in your hair. They definitely didn't feel like sharp pricks.

Otherwise what melissa may said, especially about the GP. What, he doesn't do scalps? He had a cold the week they covered that in medical school?
posted by Phanx at 7:37 AM on April 26, 2008

Itching that just won't fucking go away. Especially at night.

Anyway, the easiest way to deal with this situation is to just have someone make like the Beastie Boys and "check your head." Seriously - you don't even need to go to a dermatologist to do it. Any doctor could do it. Or hell, you could even do it yourself. Run a fine-toothed comb through your hair, very close to the scalp. You'll see the little fuckers and their eggs on the comb. They're not too small; you can see them with the naked eye.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:47 AM on April 26, 2008

I got lice a few years ago while living in a giant old, disgusting, falling apart house during my senior year in college and we had a "hat party" which involved going to a thrift store and buying every single hat they had, and adding beer. Lots of beer.

It took about a week for me to realize there was something weird, but a majority of the itching for me caused the base of my skull and the crown of my head to itch like mad. I felt like something was crawling around on my head and I had to itch like crazy. As lots of other posters have said, it felt like something was crawling around.

I went with an alternative method of killing all of them, which was hilarious and disgusting at the same time. I got a jar of full-fat mayo, slathered it all over my head and put on a shower cap and let it sit for a few hours and then I slept on it. Apparently this "smothers" the lice, which was awesome, since I didn't have to pick the nits out, or with all the nasty chemicals.

Note: It may be all in your head, since I totally just felt like my head was crawling with lice and now I can't stop itching.
posted by banannafish at 7:48 AM on April 26, 2008

If you caught lice in December, you would have known about it waaaaaaaay before the end of April. Your head would be itching pretty near nonstop by now and they'd already have reached the Industrial Revolution and be building small steam punk cities on your scalp. So you don't need a doctor or even an understanding friend - brush or comb your hair and inspect the comb or brush closely. See any small multi legged wiggling things? If not, by this late date, you're probably fine. Note that lice itch is most severe behind the ears and at the back of the neck, although if you've had them long enough, it will be all over your head.

There are a lot of things that can make your head itch - dandruff, new shampoo, allergies, thinking you might have lice - all kinds of stuff. I went through a lice scare myself (self link, but some of the information may be useful) recently even though my kids are basically grown now. We didn't have lice. The itching subsided.

Stop the presses. I just reread your question. You think she might have them again or still and you caught them two weeks ago? No, you don't need scalp to scalp contact. Lying on her bed would do it - IF she actually has them. I'd call her parents and ask if she's been checked again recently. If she has them, there's a damn good chance you do too.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:22 AM on April 26, 2008

A lot of kids never itch with lice. Ever. Lice actually like cleaner hair over dirty hair, which is sort of weird. However, you can keep lice at bay really easily with tea tree oil shampoo. That's something I use ever summer when lice seem to make their major outbreak around here. Something about they can't breathe or hold on or digest or something when it gets on them.
posted by TomMelee at 8:40 AM on April 26, 2008

What everyone above has said.

My daughter brought these little "pets" home several times over her early school years.

The itching is usually worse around the ears and the nape of the neck.

Buy one of the simple little nit combs. Wash & condition your hair. Leave the conditioner in, and run the comb through your hair. Each time you comb, from roots to tips, wipe the comb on a tissue. Do this lots and lots and lots of times. If you've only caught them recently it may take a while to find the evidence, as they tend to run from movement.
The little buggers will be knocked out for about 20 minutes while they are covered in conditioner, but they won't die.
The best way to kill them is to get them OFF your head. They can live off your head for a maximum of approx. 24 hours, the drier the air, the less time they'll survive. You don't need to launder every single thing you own, tossing your pillowcase in the tumble drier for a few minutes ought to fry them.
You don't need any of the expensive combs, toxic chemicals (which the nasty little fuckers are immune to anyway), or condiments(!). It's REALLY hard to get all the nits out, which is why many children have seemingly endless cycles of infestation. Treatment needs to be repeated regularly (say, weekly for a 2-3 weeks) to catch any that have hatched since the last treatment.

If you don't have lice, my method is much nicer than dousing your head in poison or salad dressing. As usual, the more you think about things like this, the more you itch. My scalp is crawling right now. ARGH!
posted by goshling at 9:06 AM on April 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

If the girl's bed, bedding, pillows and anything fabric that normally lives on her bed (stuffed animals, a reading pillow) were not cleaned thoroughly*, she probably has another infestation, and it's likely you've caught them. :-(

*"Thoroughly" may mean cleaning several times at weekly intervals, until all the adults and nits in various stages of development are all good and dead.

I wish you all had been around with this good advice for killing the little fuckers three weeks ago, when my daughter had them! Never thought to ask here for advice. Those Rid packs suck!
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:33 AM on April 26, 2008

Sorry - I should have read goshling's entire post. But I will add this tip:

Each time you comb, from roots to tips, wipe the comb on a tissue.

I found that an old toothbrush worked well for this.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:36 AM on April 26, 2008

I don't know if she has them or not -- her parents haven't seemed concerned.
I only get the crawling sensation sometimes. Still wondering if it isn't psychosomatic. BUt I will work on the comb technique thanks everyone.
God this is gross. I don't have any friends I could trust with this problem, and my family lived far away.
posted by chickaboo at 6:18 PM on April 26, 2008

However, you can keep lice at bay really easily with tea tree oil shampoo.

Tea Tree oil can make little boys grow boobs.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:19 PM on April 28, 2008

I don't want to talk about it but once the ordeal was finally all over for a long time afterwards I'd get that 'elephants creeping about in my hair' feeling. So I'd get a big sheet of white paper and a brush, flop upside down over the edge of my bed and just brush and brush and brush. Every cootie-like bit of dust filled me with dread... but once nothing is hitting the page anymore and there are no cooties then you know you're all clear.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 8:15 PM on June 7, 2008

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