For parents trying to expel head lice from their family, local service is a miracle indeedBy Taylor Rao
Albany Times Union
Published 5:27 pm, Friday, August 28, 2015
When Helaina Slader answers her work phone, she's used to greeting voices of panic and uncertainty. Before the call is complete, she buttons her uniform coat, grabs a headlamp and prepares her studio to perform a miracle.
"How quickly can you get here?" she asks her worried client-to-be.
By that point, many of her clients have already started to drive to Miracles on Lice, a professional lice removal service in Ballston Lake.
Stacy Lee, a Schaghticoke mother of three, gave Miracles on Lice a call after finding a louse in her hairbrush on a Sunday morning.
It was then she realized the two weeks she spent using at-home treatments to rid her three young daughters of their own cases of head lice had not been successful. Now, she had caught it too.
Still dressed in her pajamas, Lee left the house with her family in tow and headed straight to meet the Slader family for a full day at Miracles on Lice.
"When we walked in the door, it was like the heavens opened up," says Lee, who heard about Miracles on Lice through a friend who had used the service. After an Internet search for the telephone number, Lee was sure she would reach a voicemail that early Sunday morning, planning to get help the next day.
When Slader answered the phone, Lee's nightmare of spending hours combing through her daughters' hair and trying every suggested DIY method of lice removal she could find online and from friends was finally over.
For families with young children, complaints of an itchy head caused by a case of head lice are not unusual. The CDC estimates 6 to 12 million lice infestations occur each year in the United States, most commonly in schoolchildren ages 3 to 11.
Recently, a new strain of "super lice" has made headlines thanks to studies showing they have resistance or immunity to treatments that have been prescribed for decades by doctors.
As lice spread by direct head-to-head contact, parents are also at risk while treating a child's case at home.
While infested families might reach out to nearby salons for tips on lice treatment, many aren't equipped with the knowledge to handle the questions and do not provide any lice removal services, leaving few professional, local options, says Slader.
Most doctors will use chemical treatments, but these are not as effective, says Amy Miazga, a registered nurse at Albany Medical Center and a former client at Miracles on Lice. "Really, the nits need to be manually removed, and no hospital personnel has this training or the hours needed to do so."
Slader and her daughter, Mandee, both licensed cosmetologists, decided to create this service in 2012 to help families to overcome their lice infestation and educate them for the future.
"I wanted to provide an experience where families could get help and they would all leave smiling," Slader says. "And we've done that."
Miracles on Lice treats its clients using the Shepherd method, a strand-by-strand combing technique that examines every piece of hair to remove all nits and lice.
Removal sessions can last two hours or more, depending on the length and thickness of hair.
"There is no magic product that gets all the nits out," Slader says. "We manually remove the nits by taking on the tedious task of going through the hair, picking them out one at a time."
Clients are immediately seated and provided with a lengthy queue of Netflix movies, a creative Pinterest-inspired lollipop tree and coloring books. They leave with a braid in their lice-free hair, often asking their parents when they can come back.
"I was so at ease," says Le "The family was so professional, friendly and wonderful with the kids."
After the initial treatment, families are invited back for a follow-up visit one week later, free of charge, to make sure clients are still living lice-free.
Slader, alongside her daughter and husband, work to educate families on follow-up care of lice treatment, prevention methods and how to clean household items afterwards. There is a 48-hour window where a louse can live off a human head, Slader says, but it's important not to begin cleaning until the lice is completely removed from the head.
"After the lice and eggs are off of the head, you can clean linens and pillows using hot water and high heat temperatures," Slader says. "Vacuuming is another important thing to do in the home after treatment."
Miracles on Lice also offers its own line of professional mint-scented shampoo, conditioner and repel spray and detangler to use once returning home.
"We learned more about head lice that day than I ever needed to know," says Lee. "They gave me every bit of information that I would need."
While the Sladers enjoy the time spent meeting and talking with new clients during a day of treatment, they tell families they hope to never see them again; assuring that one lice removal session is all they'll need to walk away confident and equipped with the knowledge to prevent another case.
"Families face this burden all the time," says Miazga, the registered nurse at Albany Med. "They need help dealing with it, and this service is worth every penny."
More Information: Miracles on Lice
Who: Helaina, Mandee and Bill Slader
Where: Ballston Lake (specific address provided once the appointment is made. They do not accept walk-ins).
Contact: 937-0688 email@example.com
Initial head check $25
Removal from buzz cuts $125
Removal from short hair above shoulders $225
*Additional charge for long or thick hair
FSA (Flexible Spending Account) and HSA (Health Savings Account) accepted for lice treatment services.
Miracles on Lice's cleaning tips for after treatment
1. To clean combs, brushes and hair ties, put them in a reclosable bag in the freezer for 48 hours. Remove from freezer and clean hair from bristles before using again.
2. Change sheets that have come in contact with an infested head in the last 48 hours. All washing and drying should be done in hot temperatures.
3. Blankets, comforters, bedspreads, and stuffed animals can be removed from the bed for 48 hours or put in the dryer for 40 minutes on the highest heat setting.
4. Vacuum lightly floors, upholstered items or other places where children lay or play. If you do not have a vacuum, a lint brush can be used.
5. Items that cannot be washed can be placed in the dryer for 40 minutes on high heat
Miracles on Lice's product line:
Miracles on Lice Mint Shampoo, $25
Miracles on Lice Mint Conditioner, $25
Miracles on Lice Mint Repel Spray, $19.99
Miracles on Lice Mint Detangler, $19.99
Miracles on Lice Nit Free Comb, $10
Taylor Rao is a freelance writer living in Clifton Park. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.