No more nits! New treatment aims for safer, easier removal
Brandy Jenkins, Morgen Merrill, Michelle Lee, Leah Santorinerys, Claire Roberts and Adam Ward participate in the nationwide hunt for lice eggs. (Alisha Soeken)
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What has curved claws, needle-like mouthparts and consumes human blood? A louse. Lice are sesame-seed sized insects that can’t jump, fly or kill yet they terrify.
“Lice is a nightmare,” Eliza Struthers said.
Struthers is a mother of five girls and worries about how to protect them.
“Whenever school first starts I braid their hair, put it up and spray their whole head with Melaleuca. For some reason the first two weeks back to school are the worst for getting lice so I do everything I can to keep it away. Lice is frustrating because if you get it you feel dirty, your house feels dirty, everything feels dirty, it’s just disgusting,” Struthers said.
Claire Roberts, CEO of Lice Clinics of America, is trying to change that.
“There is such a stigma about getting head lice. That you’re either dirty or that something shameful is happening but I am just determined to change that. To make it something we can talk about and treat openly without the nasty stigma,” Roberts said.
Part of that change will come from reaching out to the community. On Saturday, April 8 Lice Clinics of America held their second annual Nationwide Lice Egg Hunt. Clinics around the country, including the Lice Clinics of America branch at 154 E. Myrtle Ave. in Murray, opened their doors and provided screening and treatment free of charge.
“We’ve treated 32 people so far this morning. We had a group from the Road Home come in. We were able to treat people and children who have been dealing with lice for a long time but were unable to afford treatment,” Roberts said.
One of the treatments given at Lice Clinics of America is called AirAllé. It came on the market in 2010 and uses technology born from the ingenuity of a young Utah father.
“Our technology was developed at the University of Utah by Dr. Dale Clayton. He was a professor of biology and when his twins were young and had head lice his wife said to him, ‘Can’t you figure this out? You’re a scientist.’ It took a while but Clayton developed, got FDA approval and patented the medical device we now use today,” Roberts said.
The device is a far cry from lice treatments of the past.
“Lice gets into every bit of fabric, onto pillows and bedding and couches, everything. And they are so hard to get rid of. You have to wash carpets and floors and sheets, it’s a huge, huge, process,” Struthers said. “It takes hours to get the lice out of your kids hair, it hurts their heads and you have to use those tiny combs and all those nasty shampoos and after all that if you don’t get all the eggs out the first time your doomed and have to start over again. It’s a nightmare.”
The device developed by Clayton doesn’t use combs or shampoo or chemicals. Instead it uses heated-air to dehydrate and kill not only the crawling lice, but the eggs as well. Meaning you can make an appointment, enter a clinic and leave 30 minutes later completely lice free.
“What we are doing is so cool, it’s non-toxic, it’s green and we make moms and kids very happy,” Roberts said.
“It’s incredible. The fact that if my kids get lice I don’t have to get those combs and try and pick out each of those tiny bugs. I don’t have to shampoo and shampoo and shampoo again, with five girls that’s a lot of work,” Struthers said.
It’s work that Lice Clinics of America is happy to do.
“I love my job. If I’m ever having a bad day, I just come down to the clinic. We are glad to be here today serving our community and giving back. After all, anyone can hunt for Easter eggs, but we are the only ones who hunt for lice eggs,” Roberts said.