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Is it head lice?

Do I need to use a head lice removal service for detection/treatment?

So many parents, especially those of young children, may not be exactly sure what they’re looking for with respect to head lice.  If you or your child have never had head lice, and you reference the magnified images available on the web, it might be difficult to be able to identify what is and what is not head lice on a child’s (or your own) head.

At Elimilice, the Atlanta-area’s head lice specialist, we offer services to definitively detect head lice and nits and treat or offer guidance on treatment, as appropriate.

Of course, as in any service industry, there are those that believe that the service is gratuitous.  As a matter of fact, there is a researcher named Richard Pollack who claims that head lice removal service providers are taking advantage of the public because head lice are not as significant as is reported (and that head lice are often misdiagnosed by people who don’t know what they’re looking at – including school nurses and head lice services.)  He maintains that the CDC’s statistic of 6 to 12 million cases per year is inaccurate and that head lice are “expected” most prevalently (in about one out of 100 children) in students between kindergarten and 4th grade.  However, the basis for his claims is not provided or supported by any available research.   Therefore, and because cases of head lice are still often kept very private by families, there does not appear to be any way to quantify the rate of occurrence of head lice in any demographic group.

At Elimilice, we have head checked (and treated or offered treatment guidance to)  babies, preschoolers, grade schoolers, middle schoolers, high schoolers, college and graduate students, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, nannies, educators and grandparents.  No group appears exempt.

Ironically, Dr. Pollack runs a for profit organization to which you can make payment for him (or his “experts”)  to identify specimens you photograph and send to him via the iPhone/Pad application he “supports”, email or his website.  I have many visitors to my facilities as well as individuals who text, email or bring in reported evidence and my technicians or I either confirm or deny (and very very frequently, the evidence is NOT head lice) via inspection with or without a microscope – FREE OF CHARGE.

Dr. Pollack also maintains that technicians at head lice detection and removal services are providing a “medical” diagnosis when we advise clients if a case of head lice is present.  At Elimilice, we are very careful to communicate with clients, who come to us for head checks, options in terms of treatment if we find viable evidence of head lice.  (I’ll write another post in the near future about the different types of evidence and what requires full treatment, what requires modified “handling” and what requires no action.  At this point, you’ll just have to trust that we have seen thousands of people at this point and know exactly what we’re looking at.  We’re also not reticent to use aids – like jewelers’ loops, magnifying glasses and microscopes.)  Suffice it to say that our most recent findings are that for every 5 individuals we head check, we treat only 1 so we are seeing a lot of people WITHOUT head lice (or an active case of head lice.)

Additionally, frequently, we find scalp conditions that may render an individual itchy (and sometimes, we find “scalp aggravations” and damaged hair that results from repeated usage of over the counter head lice treatment products), but in the absence of head lice, we actually recommend that our clients seek guidance from their physician/dermatologist.

Head lice have been around for thousands of years all over the world (and much more significantly in many cultures where they’re more of an “accepted nuisance”).  They’ve been treated, generally with manual removal by mothers, grandmothers, aunts and other “specialists” (the proverbial “nit pickers”.)  At Elimilice, we’re just taking the guesswork and process out of busy parents’ hands.  We use research-based techniques and non-toxic products (which are also researched) to detect with certainty and remove head lice in one visit, when necessary, but the basis of what we’re doing is longstanding and age old.

So, after all that, back to the original question – Do I need to use a head lice removal service for detection/treatment:

  • This remains a personal choice but if you may be encountering (perceived or real) your first case of head lice, why not get some help (at least with proper detection?)  We promise that we will never give you “bum advice” about head lice and our front door is available for entrance and exit, at your will and at any time.  We have lots of endorsements and referrals and feel free to contact us if you’d like specific details.  A head check at an Elimilice facility is currently only $10 to $20 (contingent upon the length of the hair) and we will show you what we find/remove (manually, by the way – we never use scissors on a client’s hair) and will discuss a variety of courses of action if it is head lice.
  • We will teach you how to do a proper head check and show you the tools to facilitate such.  I cannot tell you how many people call me at 10 pm, alarmed that their child might have head lice.  I provide step-by-step instructions on how to detect if the proper tools are in the house.
  • We will show you laminated samples of real head lice at all stages.  (If you ask nicely, we might even have a crawling louse or two to show you.)  Extra wonderful clients might  be invited to the microscope.
  • If you want to try the treatment yourself (whether you know a case exists when you contact us or we find the head lice in a head check), we will guide you on the proper methods and products.
  • We will perform the treatment, only at your instruction and after we give you a cost estimate.  We will make you/your child comfortable and will completely remove all evidence of head lice while you’re with us.  We’ll bring  you/your child back for a follow up head check (at no charge) just to make sure that there’s been no further exposure.
  • As I’ve said many times, when it comes to treatment for head lice, I sincerely believe that of course you can do it yourself, but do you really want to?