Head lice removal business hatching for two women - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Head lice removal business hatching for two women

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By Dean Stephens

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- It's a problem in every school and in nearly every family. It keeps kids out of class and separates best friends for a period of time. It's a four-letter word every parent hopes is never spoken in their house: lice.

We are not talking about bed bugs, but head bugs.

Nicole Ferraro and Chip Caldwell both have children who are battling the scalp scavengers, and their reactions were pretty much the same as every parent who's ever had a child diagnosed with lice.

"I was pretty freaked out about it," said Ferraro.

"It just rocked my world," said Caldwell.

Loads and loads of laundry will be done. Expect to dry hours upon hours of pillows, blankets and anything else that can be thrown into the dryer. Stuffed animals normally tossed around kids' rooms will be stuffed into bags, and if it can be vacuumed it will be.

But there is the right way to handle lice and the wrong way to handle lice.

"I used an all-natural mix of olive oil, tea tree oil and vinegar. It didn't work so well, and to this day my children don't like vinegar," said Emily Linville.

But it's how Linville and Shelly Klimas went from lice aware to lice beware.

"I needed help, had a baby, had a 5-year-old and needed someone to help me deal with it, but I couldn't find anyone," said Klimas.

Linville and Klimas are nit picky about picking nits. A year ago, the women turned their personal lice experience into a professional lice removal business and business is bustling with infected heads.

Linville and Klimas went through extensive training at the Shepherd Institute in Florida before opening their business. That's where they learned several things, including that a female can lay 140 eggs in her short 28-day life cycle.

That can lead to a big problem.

"A 13-year-old child suffered from lice for three or four months and we found 2,000 nits and over 200 live adult lice," said Linville when asked about one of the worst cases she has treated.

The key to controlling the creepy crawlers is vigilance and communication.

Ferraro has two young sons; one was treated at Lice Beware.

"If my child has lice, then my friend should know that my child has lice. People don't want to make that phone call," said Ferraro. "It's why it spreads so much because people don't tell other moms and kids spend time with them and the cycle never stops."

"I think people need to talk about it, it's daunting," said Caldwell, whose daughter was treated.

Parents initially find it embarrassing because the greatest misconception is that their kid is dirty.

"It's not a cleanliness issue because lice actually like clean hair as opposed to dirty hair. As humans we prefer to walk on a clean floor compared to a sticky floor – lice are the same way," said Linville.

The life stage of lice makes it necessary to kill the adults and then slowly pick out the eggs or the nits.

"It's a race against time to get rid of them before they hatch and the life cycle starts again," said Linville.

Lice are primarily spread at sleepovers and each school district has its own policy regarding lice. Some parents are scratching their heads over less restrictive head lice policies that allow children with live bugs in their hair to return to the classroom.

Some school nurses are no longer sending home "lice notes" to parents of other children in the classroom. The policy shift is designed to help keep children from missing class, shield children with lice from embarrassment and protect their privacy.

Lice can only live for about two days when they are not in contact with a human scalp.

  • Dean Stephens

    Email: dstephens@abcnews4.com Reporter Profile

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