In the News

head lice make headlines

This section includes news articles that have been published about the Lice Clinics of America network of our specific clinic location.

Wearing a hair net and blue latex gloves, Cece Uribe peels back her client’s thick red hair and begins combing out dead lice. After three years in the nitpicking business, she’s seen it all—an infestation so bad the hair was sticky with nits, a patient who had a year-long case that no pharmacy shampoo could cure, even a ten-month-old baby who had caught a stubborn case from daycare.

Lice Clinics of America specializes in killing “super lice,” a strain that has developed a resistance to common treatment products. Back to school is one of the clinic’s busiest seasons. The clinic’s secret weapon against the bugs is a small, vacuum shaped device called the Airallé that sits in front of each green salon chair. Rather than poison the bugs, the FDA cleared device dehydrates them, which was found to be effective after a frustrated scientist realized he could not keep his lice specimens alive in his dry, Utah lab.

Aside from the louse stuffed animal and the pictures drawn by infested kids (“Wonst there wus a nit on my sister,” “Do not put heads together with other people,” and, most profoundly, “Are lice mini vampires?” ), the clinic resembles a spa. There are hardwood floors, white minimalist furniture, and a refrigerator full of chilled water bottles. Even the Airallé feels like a head message—it’s not uncommon for an exhausted parent to fall asleep during the treatment.

It’s easy to forget what clients are actually here to do—until a louse flies off the boy’s head and lands on his silver smock. Uribe picks it up with a lint roller, its legs still writhing on the sticky paper.

“Do you want to see it?” she asks. 
“No,” the boy says firmly and looks back at his phone.

Rumors of the superbugs first started popping up in the late ’90s when people insisted permethrin, the chemical that had been used to kill the bugs for 20 years, wasn’t working anymore.

When John Clark, a professor of environmental toxicology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, sampled 15,000 louses from across the United States he found that about 98 percent of them were resistant. News outlets published warning articles, companies scrambled to put new treatments on the market, and LCA’s parent company patented the hot-air-based device.

Business is good in the super lice industry. Lisa Liss, the manager of three Los Angeles clinics, gets phone calls constantly from desperate parents who can’t seem to get rid of their infestation. In the past two and a half years, three new clinics have opened in Los Angeles and the clinic owners are looking to open two more in the near future.

There are other lice removal shops in Los Angeles who comb through each strand of hair, manually removing every egg and louse. But the clinicians at LCA are not “nitpickers,” Liss is quick to point out. Handling super lice requires a different skill set.

Her clinicians have the life cycle of a louse memorized and can instantly distinguish between an adolescent and adult louse. They learn how to operate the Airallé so every patch of scalp is hit twice and how to clean their tools with surgical sterility.

Of the thousands of patients the Los Angeles clinics have treated in the past six months, only three of them have had to come in for a retreatment, Liss says, desperately looking for wood to knock. Clinicians are also trained how to handle frantic customers who come into the clinic. Uribe has mastered the art of striking up conversation with kids of all ages.

For younger kids, still too young to be grossed out or embarrassed, she likes telling them about how lice have trouble gripping onto dirty hair. Once they lose interest in lice facts, Uribe has an arsenal of snacks and Kindles with preloaded games to give them during the treatment process.

For preteens, like the redheaded boy in the chair, she sticks to conversation about video games and questions about summer camp. More recently, as close-headed selfies have gained popularity, she has learned how to calm distraught teenagers.

After combing out the dead bugs, lathering the boy’s hair with a thick oil, and wrapping his head in a plastic hair net, Uribe processes the payment for the $199 treatment. Above the counter is a green-and-white poster that reads “lice are not gross.” Liss repeats this sentiment whenever she can work it into conversation.

“All it means is that you’ve been close to people—it’s kind of about love,” she says.

Lice Clinics of America Reports Lice Activity Increased 56 Percent in the Los Angeles Area

Though not life-threatening, lice are highly contagious and have built a resistance to over-the-counter remedies

Salt Lake City, UT, March 14, 2019Lice Clinics of America reported that their Los Angeles clinics saw an increase of 56 percent in lice activity collectively this spring. This data was gathered and compared from the organization’s bookings and treatments in March 2018 and March 2019.

“Lice Clinics of America has a unique opportunity to gather its data to help identify trends. We believe we can attribute the increase in lice infestation bookings and treatments in our clinics to three things,” said Lice Clinics of America CEO Claire Roberts. “First, it’s a fact that many over-the-counter products are no longer effective in treating the “super lice” of today, so people are seeking professional help. Second, there is a true lack of understanding by the public on the life cycle of lice and how they spread. And third, people are becoming increasingly aware of the more effective, technologically-advanced treatment methods offered by Lice Clinics of America.”

Lice are highly contagious. According to the CDC, “Head-to-head contact with an already infected person is the most common way to get head lice. Head-to-head contact is common during play at school, at home and elsewhere, such as sports activities, the playground, slumber parties, and camps.”

Dr. Krista Lauer, medical director of Lice Clinics of America, reports, “If you have school-age children in a region where lice infestations have been reported, it’s important to take some immediate steps to either prevent your children from being infested or properly treat and kill the lice before they spread to others in your family and social group.”

Dr.  Lauer says, “First, don’t panic, and second, don’t be embarrassed. Those pesky lice have nothing to do with personal hygiene.” She recommends the following to make sure lice aren’t living in your child’s hair:

  1. Inspect your child’s head at home, especially if your child has an itchy scalp. Look for eggs, nymphs and adult lice. One adult louse can lay about 100 eggs during her life span. That’s a lot of new lice.
  2. Call the parents of your child’s friends and have them check for head lice, remembering that earlier intervention can help to reduce the infestation level.
  3. If you see lice—or if you are unsure whether you have lice—visit a professional lice treatment center, such as Lice Clinics of America.
  4. Remember, traditional over-the-counter treatments contain pesticides that are no longer effective. Lice have evolved into “super lice” and have developed resistance to those pesticides. Find a treatment that is safe and effective. Lice Clinics of America has many from which to choose.
  5. Be safe this season by starting your child on a lice prevention regimen using trusted lice prevention products such as shampoos, conditioners, sprays and hair bands that will help to keep lice away from your child’s scalp.

With more than 330 clinics in 35 countries, Lice Clinics of America is the world’s number-one service brand for treating head lice. The company’s revolutionary heated-air treatment is guaranteed to kill lice, lice eggs and super lice in a single, one-hour treatment. Lice Clinics of America also offers professional lice screenings and a full line of top-rated lice prevention products.

For those who prefer to do treatments on their own, the same precision-controlled heated air technology is available in a hand-held device for consumer use. Lice Clinics of America’s OneCure™ Treatment Kit is available at Lice Clinics of America clinics and on Amazon.

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