Cures for Headlice and Other Maladies


           Ew yuck~ There I said it~ Lice !

Recently my husband came home and confessed that he had let a coworker in on my secret removal method.  I was stunned!

I couldn’t believe that:

1. he had admitted that it had ever happened in our house… and

2. that he really remembered something I’d done about 20 years ago.

I have a huge abiding love of old books.  I am especially drawn to Etiquette and “Women’s issues” titles.  I believe the oldest in my collection is from the 1830s, which isn’t ” but a wee youngster” compared to lots of my Euro-reader’s own family bookshelves…but when you consider that most of them were received as gifts or rooted out at tag sales…I’m living pretty large antiquarian- biblio-wise.

One of my absolute favorites is called

  The Science of Women 


for the Maiden, Wife, and Mother

Mom Note:  This was,  as far as I can tell, a compilation put out by AB Gehman in 1888.  A man by the name of Thomas William Herringshaw claims to be the founder of this “Science of Women” that he named Mulierology, but as far as I have been able to discover, it is pretty much a made-up word, and there’s a little controversy over who it really is attributable to.

Modern in it’s time, Mulierology  gave advice to females in any condition, age or marital state.  A lengthy chapter describes the birthing of babies and the wise use of a heavy packing of goose grease to the traumatized tissues both on the interior and outer surfaces of the mother after birth.  Ew.  No wonder women died so frequently of  postpartum infections.  What genius conjured up goose grease as a “healing salve” for peritoneal tearing?  TW Herringshaw do you really want to take credit for that one?

There’s also a pretty hilarious discussion of birth control at the end of the volume.  I am especially fond of the description of the withdrawal method.  It is described as a leisurely paddle down the river, and then a gentle drifting and going only along as the surface takes the canoe, gently ebbing on its way in its own time.  The book goes on to caution though ~  This method is easily spoiled by turbulent thrusts and raging action against the current until one goes over the falls.  Mom is paraphrasing, I start laughing so hard everytime I read this, my eyes tear up and I can’t see well enough for an exact quote.

Not even kidding.

The “itches” as head lice (or probably any other creepy crawler living where it should not be) acording to Mulierology is to be relieved by frequent and hot suds baths followed by application of a sulfur paste to any immediately affected area.  All bedding, clothing and head wear must also be taken into clear air and sunlight, swept vigorously and then all brushes and combs treated with a sulfur powder.  This can also be mixed with water and taken internally in extreme cases


Nice to know

Fortunately (?) for my kids, I had no patience to sit around grinding up match tips to glean sulfur (I don’t know of a good 1800’s apothecary here in the Midwest).  So after weeks and weeks of waging war on these nuclear-bomb resistant pests, I devised my own method inspired by stories (tales of horror actually about dirty buggy families of my childhood).  No, I didn’t douse the kids in kerosine or gas.  But I sort of thought along those lines. Using a big box fan to blow the fumes away from their little faces and with towels held in place to protect their eyes, unloaded a whole bottle of hand sanitizer on each one’s itchy head.  I slapped a shower cap over each little noggin, waited a good half hour and then combed out the dead critters and their grossly engorged triple-sized swollen egg nits right out of all those blonde curls.  Honestly, do not try this at home.  I don’t think the kids remember the itching, but they sure remember the stinky fan treatment to “get the mice outta their heads.”

Like I said, that was years ago.  I figured the statute of limitations had run out on that Mommy Dearest moment.  Then home comes Daddy, feeling quite proud of himself for sharing the true and absolute “Mom Method for Removing Mice from Heads”  I think I’ll write a book and call it “DeMicerology : the Science of a Mom who Snapped after Weeks of Ineffective Lice Treatments”

I’m sure my kids are huddled together right now whispering…Maybe someone should write that down…