When your child has lice, your main concern is removing the head lice. We spoke to six local experts from Licenders, LiceXchange, Lice Miracles, Fairy LiceMothers, The Lice Lady of Westchester, and The Lice Expert of Dobbs Ferry/Westchester about the various chemical-free head lice treatments they offer.
A child being checked for head lice using the Shepherd Method.
What are the various treatments you offer to remove head lice and is there any home follow-up to your treatment?
I’m all-natural, so I don't use any chemicals. Basically, what I do is I look first, and once I confirm that it is head lice, I put an all-naturel enzyme-based shampoo treatment on. It smells yummy—it smells like peppermint—and it stays on for 20 minutes. What it does is it kills the bugs on contact and it helps to loosen the eggs. Then I rinse out the hair and I put the conditioner and combing solution on and I comb it through the hair with a wide-tooth comb to get all the knots out. Then I use the Nit Free Terminator Lice Comb, which is all metal and it doesn’t hurt, and I start combing out the hair. When I comb out the hair, I start at the base of the scalp and comb all the way down to the ends of the hair. Then I wipe it on a white paper towel and I can see the bugs and the eggs. They slide right out. There’s a four-way combing technique we use because each individual hair has four sides to it, so you need to comb the hair in the four different directions, this way no piece of hair goes untouched. After I’m satisfied that I got every last bug and nit out, I rinse the hair, I blow dry it, and I do another dry check under a magnification light just to make sure that it's all out. And then, depending on what I see, I make an appointment to do an additional comb out.
—Anna Albano-Krosche, The Lice Lady of Westchester, whose salon is located in Elmsford, NY
We use nontoxic, all-natural products. We don’t use any pesticides at all because they are very dangerous for children and adults. I don’t recommend that at all. We do offer home follow-ups with our services.
—Chris Cerverizzo, owner of Lice Miracles, which is located in Bellmore, NY, and serves New York City and Nassau and Suffolk counties
We use a nontoxic enzyme—that’s what kills the bug—and we do a thorough comb out. We do a strand-by-strand check. We use the shepherd method. Every treatment comes with 2 free re-checks. The re-checks are to make sure they’re not getting it again from somebody else when they go back to the same environment. It’s not really to see if we missed something, because we do get it all in the first visit. They spend all this time and energy on removing lice so we want to make sure they’re not getting it again. So we’re with them for 2 more weeks after [their treatment].
—Carol Gilbert, president of Fairy LiceMothers, which has locations in Oceanside and Deer Park, NY
A new treatment we offer is the LouseBuster, created by Larada Sciences. It's a machine that looks like a vacuum cleaner, but it works like a reverse blow dryer. It has controlled heated air that dries up the lice and the nits. It only takes half an hour. And even though we comb out the nits—because nobody wants to walk around with dead nits—there’s maintenance involved. The child still has to be combed out for one to two weeks, but everything is dried out. But we don’t have to worry if there are stray nits that need to be combed out because they’re dead. They’re dried out. It literally takes out all the air out of the egg and all the air out of the bug. It just kills them. It’s fabulous. So we offer that for free in our treatment centers.
—Adie Horowitz, owner of Licenders, which has locations in Manhattan and Long Island, NY, and Stamford, CT
I’m very, very excited to announce, I have a new treatment shampoo called LiceLogic Clear & Free Shampoo. I have been using it for many years, but I’m excited that it was reformulated in 2012. Reformulated to the extent that it is working and killing louse bugs and eggs in 30 minutes. So it’s really beneficial for us to work on services in my salon to put the shampoo on; kill the bugs and eggs in 30 minutes; and comb out with our Pantene conditioner, baking soda, and white vinegar solution, which is helping us comb out hair more quickly.
The maintenance that we ask clients to do is another part that I’m excited to announce. I used to be on the 8-14 day cycle. I am now on a seven-day, one-week cycle. We ask our clients as follow-up to do four shampoos, comb out on the fourth day, three more shampoos, and on the seventh day to do a comb out. We’re finding—after using the [reformulated] shampoo going on probably a year—that our clients are getting rid of lice in seven days and its really, really working to where it’s almost 100 percent effective if they follow our maintenance program.
—Dale Longworth, The Lice Expert of Dobbs Ferry/Westchester, whose salon is located in Dobbs Ferry, NY, and serves clients throughout the New York metro area
I’m always geared toward the aromatherapy, the organic. I totally avoid chemicals, pesticides really have no place, and there’s no need for them. [The products have] to be fully organic, I won’t use anything else.
I find the labor is really important. It's the combing—knowing what you’re looking for, being very methodical, and through—and having the tools of the trade that you need, but it’s really not the products. Those two things are crucial to the natural treatment of head lice. [Apply a mixture of] any thick white conditioner and baking soda [to the hair and use] a good metal comb. Keep combing each section of hair and wiping that [conditioner] mixture on a good stack of white paper towels. If you keep doing it for that whole week after you’re not seeing anything in the mixture on the towels, you know the lice gone.
So it’s applying oils at night and combing during the day. If it's a very heavy case, I recommend starting with the combing every day—every day for the first week and then maybe every few days the second week. You’re really eradicating the whole life cycle. You have to follow it through to termination. You must get everything out. If you keep going that full two weeks, and you take that time to do it, and you’re very methodical and stay close to the scalp and angle the comb, you could do it [at home].
—Debra Rosen, owner and operator of LiceXchange, whose staff makes house calls to families in the New York metro area