Archived Story

A better louse trap

Published 9:37pm Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Suffolk mother has made a business out of something that makes most parents cringe — head lice.

Ty Alleyne is certified in using the Food and Drug Administration-cleared LouseBuster system, developed by a University of Utah entomologist. As the only LouseBuster operator in the area, she travels all over Hampton Roads from her North Suffolk home killing head lice.

Ty Alleyne of Lickety Nit demonstrates on her friend Tamra Brawley how the LouseBuster treatment works. The method delivers heated air to the scalp to dry out and kill lice and their eggs.
Ty Alleyne of Lickety Nit demonstrates on her friend Tamra Brawley how the LouseBuster treatment works. The method delivers heated air to the scalp to dry out and kill lice and their eggs.

The LouseBuster treatment uses a machine that looks a little like an old canister-type vacuum. But instead of sucking in dirt, it warms air to exactly 136 degrees and delivers it through a hose and a specially-designed tip that gets past hair to deliver the air directly to the scalp, where most lice reside and lay their eggs.

Because lice are not able to retain water in their bodies very well, the hot air dries them out, killing adults and nymphs and rendering the eggs sterile. After a thorough treatment with the hot air, the technician performs a comb-out to remove the dead insects.

Alleyne said the treatment has done wonders for many of her clients who had been struggling to get rid of the insects for weeks.

In one case, she said, “The child was going to be held back from school” because she had missed so many days. Many area school districts have a policy that children must be declared lice-free before they can return to school, she said.

Suffolk Public Schools’ policy is that a child must be treated and can return to school the next day after a head check, spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw said. If lice or nits are spotted, however, the child is sent home and the parent is asked to treat them again. Another check is performed seven days later.

The problem with many of the traditional lice treatments, Alleyne said, is that lice are becoming resistant to chemical shampoos. But heated air is a treatment to which they cannot develop immunity.

Alleyne said many parents are embarrassed to find out their children have head lice, because lice are typically thought of as something only “dirty” or lower-class children have. Some parents have even asked her to come in an unmarked car — which she does.

But it’s actually quite the opposite, Alleyne said, and noted that lice don’t know how much money a child’s parents make.

“Lice like a clean head,” she said. “The only thing they know is you have a clean head.”

The treatment costs only $175 including the comb-out, Alleyne said, which is a bargain compared to multiple rounds of some chemical treatments.

For more information on the service, visit www.LicketyNit.com or call 469-7373.

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