The Lice Whisperer

No. Really.  From the Washington Post:

“The Hair Whisperer is a nice name for an unappetizing – but booming – business. Ms. Goldreyer, who lives in Brentwood, Calif., is a lice-removal expert. Parents hire her (and now her staff of a dozen) to make house calls, meticulously check through children’s hair and, if lice are found, treat them with nontoxic products.”

There are additional companies called the Texas Lice Squad and the Hair Fairies.  The Lice Squad charges $230 per treatment, BTW.

You also can find ads for additional lice whisperers at Craig’s list. Apparently lice are a recession-proof, growth industry.  And, for those who have the cash, it’s much simpler to have someone else do the work for you!

Interestingly, a new paper came out this week that evaluates the effectiveness of screening for lice:

“Visual inspection underestimated the true prevalence of active infestation by a factor of 3.5,” the authors write. Wet combing had a significantly higher sensitivity for detecting active infestations, correctly identifying them in 90.5 percent of the children (vs. 28.6 percent for visual inspections).”

Here’s the actual peer-reviewed paper: Accuracy of Diagnosis of Pediculosis Capitis: Visual Inspection vs Wet Combing.  Claudia Jahnke, et al.   Arch Dermatol. 2009;145(3):309-313.

It was a nicely done partly blind study with 5 elementary schools.  It also suggests that the “salon” approach to lice combing may be on the right track!

One thing does trouble me, though–not a single one of the 3 websites I’ve listed here has a kid of color on the site.  Do they know how to deal with “special” hair? Or is that just a reflection of a model that means that only rich (white) kids get the best treatment?