Head lice are notoriously difficult to eradicate, as their tiny eggs hide on clothes and furniture and can keep an infestation going for weeks.
But Marcy McQuillan and Teresa Ramirez are ready to help at their new Nitless Noggins Head Lice Treatment Center, where they say they can destroy the follicular fiends — and their eggs — in about 30 minutes.
The center opened this month at 4200 Scotts Valley Drive.
“All we use is dry heat,” McQuillan said. “The speed of the flow rate dries them out quicker.”
The pair’s treatment uses a tool called the LouseBuster, which delivers a fast-moving current of hot, dry air to the scalp through a series of points.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to heat in excess of 135 degrees Fahrenheit kills both mature lice and their eggs.
According to McQuillan, using heat to kill lice is more efficient and effective than traditional chemical treatments, none of which, according to the CDC, are completely effective against louse eggs.
“We’re trying to replace people using chemicals on kids’ heads,” she said. “We’ve been pretty busy.”
Most frequently, McQuillan sees a spike in head lice among children following extended breaks from school, she said — particularly boys and girls in elementary school.
Debbie Ruskin, district nurse for San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District, applauded McQuillan’s work.
“It’s a great service,” Ruskin said. “It’s nontoxic and 100 percent effective.”
According to Ruskin, head lice outbreaks are cyclical in the district and tend to affect both elementary schools simultaneously. The district’s rules say that if there are two reported lice outbreaks in one classroom, the entire class gets head checks — a service Nitless Noggins offers.
“Marcy is my guardian angel,” Ruskin said. “She’s helped me with so many families.”
The first step to combat lice, McQuillan said, is to use a fine-toothed metal comb to scour the scalp for full-grown and juvenile lice, which are about the size of a pencil tip. The eggs are often the most difficult to remove and the most common reason infestations return.
“A lot of times, the eggs are so small you can’t see them,” she said.
On the scalp of one client, a 7-year-old, McQuillan said there were more than 30 adult lice, 20 juveniles and more than 2,000 eggs.
Most families are nearly at their wits’ end by the time they visit Nitless Noggins, McQuillan said, having dealt with missed work and other disruptions while battling the insects.
Some have even tried unorthodox and potentially dangerous home remedies, such as Raid and kerosene, she said.
LouseBuster treatments cost $175. McQuillan said taking chances with chemical treatment kits could add up to more than that if any eggs survived.
While the price may be on the steep side for families, some types of health insurance are accepted, McQuillan said.
“(McQuillan) has proven to make every penny worth it,” Ruskin said.
The treatments, which are by appointment to protect anonymity, call for the entire household to be present to ensure everyone’s scalp is inspected and, if necessary, treated.
“People’s anxiety levels are high when they come through the door,” she said. “It helps the parents to know what’s happening.”
At a glance
What: Nitless Noggins Head Lice Treatment Center
Where: 4200 Scotts Valley Drive, Ste. D
Info: 566-6978 or www.nitlessnoggins.com