In the News

head lice make headlines

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

Back To School: Heads Up On Head Lice

In Good Health Rochester’s Healthcare Newspaper
by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

About 6 million to 12 million head lice infestations occur annually among US children 3 to 11 years of age, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

“Head lice are not a health hazard, a sign of uncleanliness or a vector for disease,” states the National Institutes for Health on its website.

Upon their child’s diagnosis of head lice — usually at school or the pediatrician’s office — many parents head to the drugstore to buy an over-the-counter remedy, some of which contain pesticide; others contain dimethicone, a silicone-based product that smothers the lice and prevents them from managing water.

But they have other choices.

Marnie Murray co-owns Naughty Nits in Pittsford, a national company which operates locations in Western and Central New York as well.

“The pesticides are designed to kill the bugs, but not the eggs,” Murray said. “The resistance rate is high after 40 years. ‘Super lice’ are resistant to permethrin-based treatments.”

Stronger preparations are available by prescription. But Naughty Nits uses a different method. Instead of killing with chemicals, the company uses AirAlle FDA-approved medical device that dehydrates the lice and eggs. With a 30-minute treatment, followed by a 30-minute comb-out, the person should be lice-free.

“It’s a silver bullet,” Murray said. “It’s relaxing, stress free and chemical free but deadly to lice and eggs. It has a specifically designed, one-use tip.”

She said that the device has more than 500,000 uses worldwide without incident. Naughty Nits doesn’t take insurance; however, Murray said some people have submitted their itemized receipts with mixed results.

“People think they can use the blow dryer, but that can burn the scalp,” Murray said. “AirAlle is similar to a blow dryer, but it’s gentle. It has a similar sensation but it’s different technology.”

She reassures parents that they don’t have to go crazy cleaning their home; however, items that have come into direct contact with their child’s head should be cleaned with hot water. Items that can’t be cleaned with hot water may be sealed in a plastic bag for two weeks to kill the lice.

“People are always looking for ways to make sense of their world and they want to know where it’s coming from,” Murray said. “She was at a softball tournament and they were sharing helmets. They spend a lot of time being angry at a friend, cleaning like crazy and the whole time, it came from the babysitter. By the time you figure it out, it’s been six to eight weeks and you’ve already spread it.”

She has parents fill out a form that asks what they’ve already tried. Home remedies include kerosene — which is very dangerous and should not be tried — olive oil, Listerine, Coca-Cola and mayonnaise. Murray said those folk remedies don’t work.

Others rely on pesticide-based treatments.

“They spend about $200 usually and multiple people have it in their household,” Murray said. “What they don’t realize is, time

is money. If they try things that don’t work, they’ll be missing school and work.

Naughty Nit’s most expensive treatment is $169. The facility also offers an “express” treatment for $119 and a DIY topical treatment that’s less.

The company also sells a line of organic preventive items that contain tea tree, rosemary, mint, citronella and eucalyptus which Murray said ward off bugs to prevent re-infestation after a bout of lice.

“They have 93 percent efficacy in clinical trials,” she said. “When you’ve had head lice they leave pheromones on your head that’s very difficult to get off that’s imperceptible to humans. You have to have something in your hair that’s a different scent to mask that.”

Don’t share

Physician Joanne Wu, board-certified in integrative and holistic medicine lives in Rochester and Buffalo. She recommends oil of tea tree, lavender and eucalyptus used in a carrier oil for both treating and preventing head lice. A few small studies seem to indicate at least a measure of efficacy in essential oils, she said.

“The important thing is don’t share implements,” she said. “Any materials that come in contact with the child’s head should be cleaned.”

All household members and those in close contact should be checked for head lice, too.


Lice? Doctor Recommends OTC Permethrin

Physician Bridget Messina, who works at the division of general pediatrics, UBMD Pediatrics & Oishei Children’s Hospital, said that the main treatment her children’s hospital uses is approved in children older than 2 months: permethrin.

“It’s made from a natural chrysanthemum extract, though it’s synthetic,” she said.

Lower concentration permethrin is available over the counter. Messina said that permethrin has low toxicity, though some children may be a little sensitive.

She’s not convinced hot air treatments are effective.

“One study was done fairly recently that showed an effect, but it wasn’t blinded,” she said. “The people knew they were getting the treatment. It leaves way for some interpretation bias. The study wasn’t big enough to say whether it works or not.”

She thinks that the combing performed after the hot air treatment is what’s working.

Click here to read our National Medical Director’s response to the use of Permethrin.

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