Saturday, April 21, 2018
Health

Tampa parents turn to lice removal experts to combat pests

TAMPA

Four kids bunch up for a selfie. Thick hair blends together. Say, "Cheese."

Selfie. Selfie. Selfie.

You know who else loves selfies?

Lice.

One kid in the selfie has lice? Now the other three in the photo might have lice as well.

The lice fall on the kids' backpacks. Backpacks are piled up in the classroom. Lice fall into other backpacks. Backpacks are swung up to shoulders. Hair falls on top of the backpack.

And so on.

Lice. Lice. Lice.

Some families are literally in tears fighting the little buggers.

An official letter from the Hillsborough County Schools District has been sent home from some schools.

We have been instructed to notify parents when head lice have been identified in school. The following information and directions have been compiled concerning head lice. We are sharing this with you at this time because HEAD LICE HAVE BEEN FOUND AT THIS SCHOOL. Head lice (Pediculosis) are characterized by itchy scalp …"

The letter, which does in fact include periodic bold CAPITAL letters, says that kids who are found with lice, "will not be permitted in school until their heads are free of both lice and nits (eggs)."

The letter offers a lengthy list of treatment suggestions, including: seeing a doctor, buying over-the-counter or prescription treatments, washing and shampooing bodies and hair, dry-cleaning coats, washing sheets, vacuuming mattresses, sealing stuffed animals in large plastic bags.

And so on.

Hillsborough school district spokesperson Tanya Arja cautions that despite the frustration some families may be feeling in their battle against lice, there is no outbreak of lice throughout Hillsborough County schools. Arja said lice levels appear normal and less than 1 percent of lice is transmitted at schools.

"We simply want to bring awareness when it is needed," Arja said. "We are not trying to alarm anyone. It's precautionary."

For those infested, however, it's getting tougher and tougher to kill the bugs and debates are hot on how to kill the bugs, which scientists say have adapted and become resistant to over-the-counter shampoos and pesticides.

Desperate families have turned to lice-removal businesses, such as the LiceDoctors, who come to a client's home, apply oils to the hair — "to suffocate" the lice — thoroughly comb through the hair and remove all bugs and nits.

LiceDoctors, a national franchise in 40 states that offers a 30-day lice-free guarantee, charges $125 for the first hour and $110 for each additional hour plus travel. LiceDoctors does not charge, "per head."

South Tampa resident Shannon Gittleman, who lived on a street that suffered a lice outbreak in almost every house within 250 yards, said she was at her wits end to not only kill the bugs, "but to see them."

"My daughter has light brown hair, and as much as I tried I couldn't see (the nits and bugs)," Gittleman said. "I called (Lice­Doctors) and they came to our house, applied the oil, combed through our hair, and they were done with my daughter and me within a couple of hours."

Gittleman followed the "post-treatment" instructions, which involved sticking stuffed animals in bags and laundering and so forth, and she said, "We had no more lice after that. I was thrilled."

One South Tampa parent, Michelle Cherry, became so frustrated with a five-month battle of "using every over-the-counter lice shampoo and prescribed treatment and service, and spending more than $2,000" that she drove her daughter to Jacksonville for a new hot-air "dehydration" treatment.

"And finally we got relief," Cherry said. "When I was driving home from Jacksonville I said, 'Why doesn't anybody open one of these in Tampa? This is needed.' This is certainly not something I wanted to be in. I used to teach elementary school (in New York). So I'm pretty good with kids. So I said, 'Why not open my own (lice removal) business.' "

She did.

Cherry started her business, Lice Away Today, in Ybor City more than a year ago and moved a few months ago to a storefront at 4308 W El Prado Blvd. in South Tampa

Business is good.

January, in fact, featured a store-record 98 customers, all of whom had lice and/or nits (eggs).

Cherry says she killed and removed all the little buggers from all those heads of hair.

She does it with an FDA-cleared medical device called AirAlle' (pronounced air-a-lay), which kills lice and eggs through dehydration. The device, which looks like a vacuum but performs more like an air dryer, uses a combination of temperature control, airflow, time (30 minutes) and technique (there is a specific hand-holding method).

After the AirAlle' treatment, Cherry, or one of her three part-time employees, does a post-treatment comb-out and rinse, which takes about an hour. Once completed, a quick list of maintenance and preventive tips are provided.

Treatments vary from $95 to $160 depending on the package.

Cherry guarantees the treatment for 30 days.

"My hope is that I never have repeat customers," Cherry said. "I never want to see a customer in my store after that first time. I'll be happy to see them in the park or at a restaurant or something like that. But only one time in my store."

LiceDoctors' technician Kim DeAndrea said she never saw herself working such a job, but she finds it very rewarding.

"I have been to homes where mothers greet me at the door literally in tears," DeAndrea said. "Sometimes they are ashamed and they think they are bad mothers. But the truth is, lice does not discriminate. Anybody can get lice. Anybody! And these little bugs can drive you downright crazy.

"When I come in and solve their problem they are so happy. I feel like I'm really helping somebody and that feels great."

Contact Scott Purks at [email protected]

   
Comments
Do not eat any romaine lettuce, the CDC warns

Do not eat any romaine lettuce, the CDC warns

Public health officials are now telling consumers to avoid all types of romaine lettuce because of an E. coli outbreak linked to the vegetable that has spread to at least 16 states and sickened at least 60 people, including eight inmates at an Alask...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida has hit a milestone of sorts as it slowly moves toward wider availability of medical marijuana.The number of patients in the state who are registered to use the substance has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to Florida Departme...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood is expanding its emergency department. The hospital, 7171 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, is spending $17.5 million to add 15 new private treatment rooms, new pediatric rooms and waiting areas, and new technology, acco...
Published: 04/18/18
Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

As she nears death at age 92, former first lady Barbara Bush’s announcement that she is seeking "comfort care" is shining a light — and stirring debate — on what it means to stop trying to fight terminal illness.Bush, the wife of former President Geo...
Published: 04/17/18
Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

When the patient got violent, Dr. Michelle Hidalgo didn’t have time to think. She had to react. The woman was moving strangely and seemed erratic. Hidalgo had to make a tough call — it was time to physically restrain her for everyone’s safety.Then th...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Lung cancer patients live longer with immune therapy

The odds of survival can greatly improve for people with the most common type of lung cancer if, along with the usual chemotherapy, they are also given a drug that activates the immune system, a major new study has shown.The findings should change me...
Published: 04/16/18
Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

A Pennsylvania food manufacturer is recalling 8, 757 pounds of ready-to-eat salad products following an E. coli outbreak that has spread to several states and sickened dozens of people.Fresh food Manufacturing Co., based in Freedom, Pennsylvania, is ...
Published: 04/15/18
St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

ST. PETERSBURGSister Mary McNally, vice president of mission at St. Anthony’s Hospital, stood in front of a room of cancer survivors to unveil a silver bell surrounded by butterfly stickers mounted to the wall of the Cancer Center lobby. "So often pe...
Published: 04/13/18
Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Washing your hands after you use the bathroom is a good idea. But using a public dryer could undo all that hard work, according to a new study.A study, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, examined 36 men’s and women’s bat...
Published: 04/13/18
Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

The annual St. Anthony’s Triathlon has for years attracted elite athletes from around the world, making the St. Petersburg race one of the premier triathlon events in the country. There’s a big incentive to run fast, swim hard and be the best on a bi...
Published: 04/13/18