Nitpickers and Nail Technicians

nitpickersThere are plenty of pastimes in the Philippines, including the many vices shared with people all over the world. Nitpickers can often stay occupied. Getting manicures and pedicures from nail technicians can also kill a lot of time.


I always wondered where the term “nitpicking” came from, which means being overly attentive to details. In reality, nitpickers are people who remove head lice from other people. A “nit” is a tiny insect.

Most nitpickers are Filipino women removing head lice from girls, who are usually in their early teens or younger. I’ve only seen men doing it on a couple of occasions. They will spend hours upon hours delousing hair, and they seem to enjoy doing it. The only thing Filipinos spend more time doing (in general) is gambling, drinking and playing basketball.

It’s amazing, to me, how so many people can be afflicted with head lice. They spread in many ways, and it seems to me that no one wants to put any effort into preventing it from happening. If children are playing together and one child has head lice, all of them will have it. If two or more children sleep in a bed and one child has it, all of them will have it. The solution is to treat an entire group for it, not one at a time.

In the area where I live in Olongapo City, the number one treatment seems to be using louse combs and picking them from the hair strands one by one. Several years ago, one of my older nieces had a horrible case of head lice. No one wanted to work on her head because it seemed fruitless. I went to one of the drug stores and asked for kuto shampoo, and I was told they didn’t have it. A relative was with me and repeated it as lice shampoo, and they suddenly had it. Apparently, not everyone in the Philippines knows that kuto translates into lice.

Head Lice in School

The children in the Philippines go to school whether they have head lice or not. The private and public school systems don’t seem to have a problem with it. When I was growing up in the United States, children who had lice weren’t allowed to go to school until the situation was rectified. I understand some school districts now allow them to go, and I wonder how long it’ll be before they declare it as an epidemic or something.

Nail Technicians

Most women in the Philippines will get a manicure and a pedicure at the same time. Usually, the nail technician is a woman from the same neighborhood. She’s both the manicurist and the pedicurist. It’s a lot less expensive than going to a nail salon. My wife, Josie, gets her manicures and pedicures this way when she’s in the Philippines. Every time she suggests I get my nails done, I adamantly refuse. I’ve seen it being done enough times to know I should groom my nails the way I’ve done it for as long as I can remember.

When the nail technician uses one tool and one tool only, it’s a good idea to stay away. I’m talking about a cuticle nipper. Perhaps they use nail clippers as well, but I’ve yet to see one being used. Perhaps it’s because the cuticle nipper is serving double-duty, the way it’s intended to be used, and as a nail clipper. I really don’t know. The one thing I do know is that they shape the toenails just like fingernails, and that’s wrong. I can tell Josie and all the other women it’s being done wrong, but they’ll simply ignore me.

No Need for Nitpickers or Nail Technicians

I use fingernail clippers for my fingernails and toenail clippers for my toenails. That’s the way it should be. I’ll use the file attached to the fingernail clippers to dig any crud from under either set of nails. I’ll also use it to clean up the cuticles on my toes. My fingers never have problems.

One woman or another is always complaining about a pedicure she just had, including Josie on occasion. The pedicurist will dig into the flesh (not intentionally, I’m sure) while shaping the toenails. I see women using candle wax to ease the pain. No, thank you. I’ll do mine like I’ve always done them. I never have issues with my nails, other than not wanting to cut my toenails. As I get older, it takes longer and longer to cut them correctly.

I don’t have issues with head lice because I keep my hair short, usually cutting it to 1/8 of an inch every four to six weeks. Not only that, I avoid being around people when they’re being deloused. I’ve seen lice jump.

Image by Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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