Lice are Mother Nature’s quintessential survivors.
But the head-dwelling, blood-sucking parasites may have met their match in a stay-at-home mom turned lice eliminator who uses hot air and oil to rid scalps of the insects and prevent new infestations.
Her name is Amy Allen and she just may be Pediculus humanus capitis’ worst nightmare.
Allen’s new lice slaying business opened it doors Jan. 15 at 7680, Suite 104a Monterey St. in downtown Gilroy. It’s called Lice Clinics of America and guarantees eradication in an hour. And it’s not just for kids.
“They like all ages and all races, whether you are poor or have money. Lice like everybody,” said Allen, 30, a Santa Cruz native who moved recently with her husband, William, and son and daughter to Hollister.
She used a famous queen to make her point that lice are equal opportunity parasites that have been bugging humans for thousands of years.
“There’s research that shows that Cleopatra [who died in 30 B.C.] was buried with lice cones, so that’s a sign of lice being around for a long time,” she said.
She explained how her system works after infestation has been confirmed.
First, heated air is blown over the scalp with what the company calls its AirAllé device, an FDA-cleared medical implement. The heat kills adult lice. Step two is a full comb-out, which rids the head of the dead insects. Next, the hair is rinsed and an egg-suffocating oil is applied.
The eggs are often missed by other treatments and cause re-infestations, Allen said.
They are called nits, which inspired the word “nitpicking”—manually detaching eggs bonded by the female to individual hairs.
The treatment takes about an hour, after which the client is “completely lice and nit free and no longer contagious,” Allen said, “guaranteed for 14 days.”
There also are steps that must be taken at home. They include washing bedding and placing it in the dryer on high for 30 minutes.
A licensee/owner in a national chain operation, Allen said she expects many more clients when word gets out that her service is guaranteed.
Lice have become her livelihood, she said, for two reasons, because she and her husband have always wanted their own business and because of a close encounter of the lice kind.
“When she was in first grade [in Santa Cruz], my daughter’s classroom had a huge outbreak and when she got it we were basically freaked out. A friend suggested going to a clinic like this and we went. It was a lifesaver.”
The system she now uses is the one that helped her daughter, she said.
When the family moved to Hollister six months ago, she learned Lice Clinics of America had no services in the area. Now, her exclusive territory stretches from south San Jose to San Benito County. Clients are seen by appointment only. Allen said she responds to phone calls 24/7.
Lice spread only by direct hair-to-hair contact with an infested person, according to Allen.
“They don’t jump and they don’t fly and they cannot live [for more than 24 hours] off a human scalp,” she said.
Allen’s daughter, Jessie, now has strict rules she follows when she goes to school to keep her safe from another infestation.
“She wears her hair up in a bun or braids, there’s no sharing hats, no hugs and she religiously uses only her own headphones for computer time,” Allen said.