In the News

head lice make headlines

This section includes news articles that have been published about Lice Clinics of America locally and nationally.

The Lowdown on Lice, Buffalo Magazine

Itching for Answers
by Brenda Alesii

“Your child has head lice.”  Not the happiest news from the school nurse.  But just because school’s out doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods — especially with camp season kicking in.  And, anyone who’s gone through it can attest, the task of getting rid of lice (on your children’s heads and in your home) can be nothing short of monumental.

Head lice is actually more common than you think.  The owners of Naughty Nits, a new local business whose sole focus is combating head lice, said that one in four kdis in the U.S. get it.  But it’s not just children who end up scratching their heads.  “Lice crawl, they don’t fly or jump.  While the 2-to 12-year-old crowd is most affected, older teens who babysit, along with parents and other adults, often are too.  We also treat tons of grandparents” said Marnie Murray, mother of four and co-owner of Naughty Nits with business partner Lisa Saul.

And contrary to popular belief, lice isn’t linked to poor hygiene.

“The stigma of head lice isn’t the same in Europe,” noted Saul, who was a registered nurse is Sheffield, England before she relocated here 10 years ago.  “But in the U.S., there is a lot of inaccurate information about the cause.  Lice are often mistakenly associated with being dirty, but that is totally untrue.”

Murray and Saul began their nit-picking business in 2010 out of their homes, and recently opened a treatment center featuring four private rooms on Wehrle Drive in Williamsville.

“Because parents are concerned about the emotional toll the experience takes, we’ve worked hard to make the center a happy, kid-friendly place with DVDs, lemonades and treats,” said Murray.  The combing process is relaxing and painless, she added.

“We also continue to make house calls, traveling all over the area from Lewiston to Batavia and everywhere in between,” said Murray, who has a master’s degree in biology from Yale.
When one child in the family brings home lice, it can be disruptive to the entire family.  Because children can miss up to three weeks of school with head lice, there can be significant economic impact on their parents.

For Debbie Farley, a Clarence mother of four daughters, an infestation of lice eight years ago could not have come at a a worse time.  “My five-year-old brought it home, gave it to me; I was five months pregnant,” she recalled.  “We were totally overwhelmed — my husband was picking through my hair and cutting out eggs.  We used over-the-counter toxic treatments on the girls, followed by two hours per head to comb out the eggs.”  Farley said she also did at least 20 loads of laundry that week and repeated the process every other night until her daughter was cleared by the school nurse to return to school.

Farley, who works as a dental hygienist, recently took a part-time job at Naughty Nits.  “Lice can happen to anyone.  We try to educate the client about the live cycle of lice and how to avoid reinfestations,” Farley said.

While home remedies ranging from mayonnaise to vinegar to over-the-counter treatments have been available for decades, the local lice ladies say those treatments don’t get down to the nitty gritty.  “They might kill the live bugs, but the eggs remain alive.  Females can lay seven to 10 eggs a day.  We use an organic yeast enzyme product that unglues the nit from the hair shaft, and apply it piece by piece until the whole head is treated,” Saul explained.  A short follow-up treatment a week later is recommended.

A Getzville mother (who wants to remain anonymous) of three said she was “freaked out and in a panic mode when one of her daughters was sent home from school because the nurse found lice in her hair.  Ultimately all five members of the family were successfully treated in a home visit made by the lice ladies.

While their house calls have taken them from “15,000 square-foot mansions to shotgun shacks in outlying areas,” Saul and Murray say every lice outbreak has a common theme.  “People are stressed out and embarrassed, often hysterical when they contact us.  We tell them that it can happen to anyone, that we will pull up in an unmarked vehicle and that our service is confidential,” said Murray.  “Our staff, made up of moms, is compassionate and understanding.”

Both women agree that the best part of their buggy business is the end result.  “Our clients may be crying whey they call; when they leave they hug us and are so happy,” Saul said.  “It’s an awesome, fulfilling feeling.”

Brenda Alesii is a freelance writer from Williamsville

The Orchard Park Press

Friday August 26, 2011
Volume 4, Number 4

Head lice busters preparing for busiest month of the year

Number of cases drastically increases after school starts

By Chris Gibbons

They’re discreet, professional and effective, and they make house calls in an unmarked car. Since an estimated 10-12 million Americans contract head lice each year, chances are Naughty Nits will be visiting a home very close to yours soon. Orchard Park resident Lisa Saul, who with business partner Marnie Murray started the in-home, confidential service for head lice treatment, said, “Worldwide, September is a massive head lice month. Absolutely massive.” Saul and Murray bring experience and credibility to the business they started in December.

Saul was a nurse specializing in family care in Britain before she moved to Orchard Park with her husband and daughters nine years ago; and Murray taught biology at Nichols School in Buffalo. Pointing out that their clients’ profiles span the socio-economic spectrum, Saul said, “We’ve been to the wealthiest of the wealthy houses and the poorest of the poor.”

No one, it appears, gets a free pass when it comes to head lice, which are easily spread by means of shared sports helmets, earphones, brushes and combs, pillows and hats. Female lice are about 1/8-inch long. They lay up to 140 eggs during their 28-day life cycle. According to Saul, she and Murray met through a mutual friend, and when her two oldest daughters left for college last fall and she had more free time, they decided to start a business.

She researched the topic of head lice treatments and was unpleasantly surprised to find that most of the products available in pharmacies involve the use of pesticides. She contends that while lice can make even the most carefully groomed child a pariah, they don’t actually pose a health risk.

Saul also found that large cities like New York and Los Angeles have in-home services like those provided by Naughty Nits, but Western New York was deficient. “We thought, ‘What a great opportunity in this area,’” she recalled. The partners were concerned about the tools commonly available to wage the war against head lice. Prescription shampoos can contain powerful chemicals such as lindane and malathion, which are insecticides used to kill lice, but they have to be used carefully and don’t necessarily get rid of all the louse eggs (nits). The pesticides are not something parents want to put on their children’s heads if there’s an alternative, Saul and Murray said. “The only harm is from the products used,” Saul said. “I’ve been up in arms about that.” As an alternative, Naughty Nits went with an organic hair care product line called Fairy Tales, but that’s only part of their service. Typically, their in-home visits last from one-and-a-half to two hours, during which they check everyone in the household’s hair and give instructions on proper cleaning and maintenance procedures to ensure that the lice are eradicated from the home.

They charge $99 for the initial visit, hair care products and special combs, checklists and guidelines, and they recommend a follow-up visit seven days later. On average, Saul says, clients spend around $150.

Naughty Nits’ phone line is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saul said they even had a call at midnight from a panicked mother. “When people call, they want you there and then.” Since the business has proven to be highly successful, Saul and Murray are training six additional staff members to accompany them on calls

Naughty Nits Interview on Janet Snyder’s Western New York Living. June 2011.

Published on Nov 3, 2011

Naughty Nits Treatment Center in Williamsville, New York is now powered by the LouseBuster!

Published on Apr. 26, 2013