By Katie Murdoch
The Enterprise Newspaper
Head lice move nine inches per minute, making it very easy for school nurses and parents to miss catching lice on a child’s head. Throw into the mix the fact that children often play with each other’s hair, hang their coats side by side at school and share hair ties with adults, and things start to spiral out of control.
Nancy Gordon empathizes with families with head lice. Some families will mistake lice with bed bugs and start bagging and washing all of their clothes and bedding. “It’s very stressful for families,” she said. Gordon is helping families get out of that tense environment and get to the root of the problem. She owns Lice Knowing You, which removes lice in one treatment and offers education and prevention tips.
Clients are charged $95 per hour depending on hair length and severity of the lice. Most major insurance companies cover the treatment. “For the most part we can remove it in one treatment,” she said. “Generally, re-exposure is what brings people back.”
During a treatment, salon staff goes through a three-step process to get rid of lice using only natural, organic and non-toxic products. Unlike bed bugs, lice don’t live in people’s environment. Instead, they need a human host to survive. Once lice are removed from someone’s head, they begin dying, so even if they return, they can’t do any damage, Gordon said. “Bagging stuff is unnecessary,” Gordon said. “Bagging stuff gives people a sense of control, but your head should be the focus of the issue.”
She offers a 30-day guarantee and a 90-day guarantee that includes six free head checks during the six months following treatment. During a treatment two people check for lice to ensure it’s gone. “Once you’ve had lice, there’s a panic when you see your kid scratch their head,” she said.
Gordon said she and her staff work with schools around the area to conduct lice checks. She declined to name school districts and private schools. Gordon also gives presentations to PTA groups where parents can ask questions and clear up lice removal techniques ranging from olive oil to Listerine mouth wash. “It basically opens the channels of communication,” she said.
Lice policies vary per school, Gordon said. Private schools, for example, have a zero nit and lice policy where students are sent home if they have either. “It’s a policy I believe strongly in; it makes parents accountable,” Gordon said. “There’s no shortcut to get rid of lice. The bottom line is you have to comb everything out of their head.” Public schools policy, on the other hand, says students can come back to school so long as they don’t have live lice. “Lice are contagious, nits aren’t,” Gordon said. “But where there’s nits, there’s lice. Letting kids go to school, it’s going to come around and bite them in the tush.”
To help soothe frantic parents, the salon allows for clients to watch TV, read books and snack on donuts and coffee. She also has a lice-free playroom for children after they’ve completed their treatments. “It takes you out of the center of the stress, it takes them out of the environment and hands it over to someone else,” she said.
When her daughter got head lice seven years ago, Gordon searched for organic products, keeping her son, who has autism, in mind. She steered away from products with pesticides as the side effects aren’t good for children and the long-term effects associated with ADHD and autism aren’t clear, she said. “The pesticide-based treatments won’t work and the directions are ambiguous,” she said. “I’d rather have someone use something as benign as olive oil.”