“My daughter has light brown hair, and as much as I tried I couldn’t see (the nits and bugs),” Gittleman said. “I called (LiceDoctors) and they came to our house, applied the oil, combed through our hair, and they were done with my daughter and me within a couple of hours.”
Gittleman followed the “post-treatment” instructions, which involved sticking stuffed animals in bags and laundering and so forth, and she said, “We had no more lice after that. I was thrilled.”
One South Tampa parent, Michelle Cherry, became so frustrated with a five-month battle of “using every over-the-counter lice shampoo and prescribed treatment and service, and spending more than $2,000” that she drove her daughter to Jacksonville for a new hot-air “dehydration” treatment.
“And finally we got relief,” Cherry said. “When I was driving home from Jacksonville I said, ‘Why doesn’t anybody open one of these in Tampa? This is needed.’ This is certainly not something I wanted to be in. I used to teach elementary school (in New York). So I’m pretty good with kids. So I said, ‘Why not open my own (lice removal) business.’ ”
Cherry started her business, Lice Away Today, in Ybor City more than a year ago and moved a few months ago to a storefront at 4308 W El Prado Blvd. in South Tampa
Business is good.
January, in fact, featured a store-record 98 customers, all of whom had lice and/or nits (eggs).
Cherry says she killed and removed all the little buggers from all those heads of hair.
She does it with an FDA-cleared medical device called AirAlle’ (pronounced air-a-lay), which kills lice and eggs through dehydration. The device, which looks like a vacuum but performs more like an air dryer, uses a combination of temperature control, airflow, time (30 minutes) and technique (there is a specific hand-holding method).
After the AirAlle’ treatment, Cherry, or one of her three part-time employees, does a post-treatment comb-out and rinse, which takes about an hour. Once completed, a quick list of maintenance and preventive tips are provided.
Treatments vary from $95 to $160 depending on the package.
Cherry guarantees the treatment for 30 days.
“My hope is that I never have repeat customers,” Cherry said. “I never want to see a customer in my store after that first time. I’ll be happy to see them in the park or at a restaurant or something like that. But only one time in my store.”
LiceDoctors’ technician Kim DeAndrea said she never saw herself working such a job, but she finds it very rewarding.
“I have been to homes where mothers greet me at the door literally in tears,” DeAndrea said. “Sometimes they are ashamed and they think they are bad mothers. But the truth is, lice does not discriminate. Anybody can get lice. Anybody! And these little bugs can drive you downright crazy.
“When I come in and solve their problem they are so happy. I feel like I’m really helping somebody and that feels great.”