By Megan Conklin
The first niggling of concern starts when you see the extra-long line of youngsters snaking its way out of the nurse’s office at your child’s school. But, you shake it off. Probably nothing? The next whisper of worry comes when newly shaved heads start popping up on boys in your child’s classroom as if it is the latest hip hairstyle. You reflexively scratch your head, refuse to make eye contact with the shorn children’s parents and scurry away from the school. The final nail in the coffin comes with the dreaded, but expected letter found crumpled in the bottom of your kid’s backpack. “Dear Families, Lice….” It doesn’t matter what comes after the word “lice” in the letter because you are in full freak out mode – checking heads, stripping beds, and bagging stuffed animals at mock speed.
The truth is, freaking out about lice, while natural and common in our antiseptic, antibacterial, germaphobic world, is not necessary. Head lice does not spread disease and is not considered a public health hazard. Nonetheless, it doesn’t negate the visceral, gut reaction of “ewww” that we all get when hearing about a lice infestation. Head lice, according to the Centers for Disease Control, “are parasitic insects that can be found on people’s heads, and bodies. Human lice survive by feeding on human blood.” That’s right people – tiny little vampires feeding on our blood and causing an annoying itch that can spread to other parts of the body and disrupt sleep.
Getting rid of head lice can be a tricky adventure. There are many paths to lice free existence and we all must find the one that fits our family. My family encountered lice when my first child entered kindergarten. We spent many months battling the little critters, starting off with natural remedies like mayonnaise and a shower cap and finally moving on to a very effective prescription level medication from our pediatrician.
In fact, Elizabeth McHugh, a Physician’s Assistant and mother of two recommends seeing a doctor for a prescription and advice when lice prove to be persistent. Anecdotally, she is also a proponent of the “blow dry the hair for 30 minutes after washing for two to three weeks” method in order to desiccate the nits. While this takes commitment on the part of the parent, it also deals with the uncomfortable reality that just getting rid of the live lice in a person’s hair is only half the battle. Nits, the lice eggs, can hatch 7-12 days after a traditional lice shampoo treatment and start the traumatic process of eliminating lice all over again.
High heat has been scientifically proven to dehydrate and kill nits, the lice eggs that tend to hide, buried in the hair and hatch unexpectedly weeks later. And this dehydration method is the magic behind the 100% guaranteed lice elimination treatment offered at Northwest Remedies (formerly Randy’s Compounding Pharmacy and Nutrition Center). I spoke with employee Jessica Labrum, who has administered over 75 lice elimination treatments at NW Remedies since September, about why their treatment is so unique and so effective.
“The ‘Aire Alle’ machine used at the pharmacy uses directed heat with a scalp protecting applicator to completely dehydrate the lice nits, totally dry them out, and kill them.” Labrun explains.
The treatment also includes the application of a compounded oil developed by Brad Livingstone, the pharmacist and owner of NW Remedies. The oil is a combination of dimethicone, olive oil, and peppermint oil and serves as a sufficant for any live lice present in the hair. It is non-toxic and can be used on even the youngest patient. The entire treatment takes about two to two and a half hours and includes a head check, a follow up check and treatment 7-10 days later and a nit free comb. The treatment is 100% guaranteed and costs $195 per person. However, the employees of NW Remedies want to help families any way they can, so if a full treatment for all members of the family is not in the budget, they also provide $15 head checks, the compounded oil for $18 per bottle, and an abundance of free advice and expertise.
Labrum has assisted everyone from preschoolers to college students. “I am happy to demonstrate to families how I would perform the comb out,” she offers. “I often correct misinformation and hand out literature that might help.” The goal at NW Remedies is to educate and support families as they deal with the sometimes overwhelming task of eliminating head lice.
Some families choose not to seek professional help eliminating lice and go the over the counter route instead. In the five years since my family deloused, I have noticed a sharp increase in the lice-busting products offered at local grocery and drug stores. At Rite Aid, there is everything from electronic lice detecting combs to nit killing bed sprays and of course the traditional lice shampoo. It is important to follow all the directions provided especially when using the products on young children.
Lice can be an embarrassing and itchy business, but remember that they are equal opportunity pests – a diagnoses does not mean you have questionable hygiene habits, just bad luck. So, even if you have the misfortune of being diagnosed with head lice, never fear Thurston County – from prescriptions, to all natural treatments, there are an abundance of choices to support you on your path to a deloused happily ever after.