6/19/2010

Beware the physician that makes a commission.

As a lice professional, I am happy to take your money. But I am also the first to tell you that while you may need my advice, you probably don't need my services.
I don't sell any products and I am happy to give you free advice through this blog and over the phone about how to deal with your head lice problem.
You may already know that I'm not the first professional nit picker in Canada. But I was the first to run her business as The Nice Lice Lady. Then, about a year after I was in business, another woman who runs a lice removal franchise in Ontario started calling herself the Nice Lice Lady. She's not from Edmonton, so I thought, gee, there's enough lice to go around for both of us.
Now she has started her own lice lady blog. Hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And she even refers to me on her blog. I am honoured, with the exception that she is claiming that I am mistaken about a product that she is selling. Her franchise sells and rents out The LouseBuster (Update: this device has been renamed the AirAlle). In other posts, I have referred to this device as a souped-up hairdryer. It was developed by biologists at The University of Utah. It works by drying out most of the nits and lice. And it works. Sounds good.

However, this other lice professional compares my advice about using regular blow dryers as another tool in the fight against head lice to quack remedies like using camel urine. My favourite part of her blog post says, "In Edmonton...a professional nit picker advises her clients to use a blow dryer on a low setting to kill lice eggs. She says it's proven. By who I wonder?"

I am overjoyed to tell you who has done the research on regular hair dryers. The research was done by the fine folks at The University of Utah. These are the very same folks that invented The LouseBuster (Update: This device has been renamed the AirAlle) and who then created a spin-off company to market it called Lareda Sciences. Here are their findings about using a regular hair dryer in their study as published in the November 2006 issue of Pediatrics:

"A handheld blow dryer was used to apply directed heating. Hair clips were used to divide each child's hair into 20 sections. The dryer was held still for 30 seconds to heat one side of each section, then held still another 30 seconds to heat the other side. This method killed 55 percent of lice and 98 percent of eggs."

Hey, don't just take my word for it. You can read about their study for yourself at www.unews.utah.edu/p/?r=101906-9. Or read the entire 11 page study as published in Pediatrics:http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/118/5/1962.


And how effective is the LouseBuster (AirAlle)? According to the same study, it kills 80% of the lice and 98% of the eggs. As you can see, it is somewhat more effective than a blow dryer when it comes to the bugs. With the eggs, it has the same effectiveness as a regular blow dryer (when directed heating is used). These are not my findings - I did not prove these things. THEY did, and if their findings are flawed, then I would also question the claims of their product. By looking at the bar graph from their study (below), you can see that all forms of heated air treatment that were studied had some effectiveness, primarily with nits:




I have nothing against this woman and I even promote other lice professionals. In Edmonton, I have met many people who have used the services of The Nitpickers with great success. I'm not trying to do anything that would put us out of business - like I said, there's more than enough lice to go around. What I am against is the perpetuation of the myth that you need expensive treatments or even "professionals" to deal with this problem. Lice advice and removal should be accessible. Yes, I charge for my services, but I first give people information they can use to deal with this problem themselves if they so wish.


The LouseBuster (AirAlle) is a very fine product, I'm sure. If it was the new cure in the head lice fight, then this franchise wouldn't need to offer any other products - but they still sell a ton of other things. Don't always go looking for a shiny new thing to deal with an age old problem. With sound information and diligence, you can beat head lice on your own.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I could not agree with you more on this new device or the ‘other’ Nice Lice Lady who is using the Lousebuster. If it does what they claim, there would be no need for any other product, yet the companies who are utilizing this new method, STILL offer combing out services as well as other lice removal products.

And every time you see a press release, you get a different quote on the success rate. I've read everything from 80% to 100%. They then point to the published research – research they know the average John Doe is not going to read or be able to interpret the data accurately. As with so many other products, it's not about being honest, it's about marketing.

One of the companies that is now using the Lousebuster also made the claim - on national television - that the ONLY sure way to prevent head lice is to keep your hair oily and dirty! Are you kidding me? That statement speaks volumes on what this person does NOT know about head lice.

It seems the companies that Larada has targeted to sell and use their product are either:

1) outside of the U.S.
2) have not been in the head lice removal business very long and/or are not very educated about head lice
3) are struggling in their lice removal business and trying any new gimmick they can to stay afloat

You won't find any of the major head lice removal businesses (including the non-profits) utilizing this new device. Why? They’ve seen the studies and know how to interpret the data.

I - like you - have also gotten a chuckle about the hair dryer study. As you have already stated, it was Larada Sciences OWN study that proved the hair dryer is just as effective as their "medical device".

Thank you for your post, I really enjoyed it's honesty.

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

Thanks for the comment. What's surprising to me is that this other lice professional has been in the business a long time. I would think that most nit pickers would want their clients to have access to any techniques that are proven to have some effectiveness. Perhaps this woman or her franchises are only interested in promoting what they can profit from. Either she has not read the research behind her product, or she is deliberately trying to keep people from reading the research for themselves. Either way, it is disconcerting.
When the Lousebuster was being developed, I was also interested in licensing this product. However, after reading the research I found that it was not a necessary tool in my business, and I also felt the cost was prohibitive for both me and my clients.
I want the Lousebuster to be effective because most people will only be able to afford one or two treatments. However, thanks to the research of Lareda Sciences, it seems my hairdryer is somewhat effective and since I own it, I can use it as many times as I want to, thereby increasing its effectivenesss.

Dawn Mucci said...

Please allow me to clarify on a couple of things so that readers are not given false information.
1. The Nice Lice Lady has been my moniker since I began Lice Squad Canada in 2001 and has been used in the company literature, press, and web site for many years. You may reference our Logo, marketing flyer, press articles and website to see the Nice Lice Lady super hero picture and caption "Kids Love the Nice Lice Lady". I am happy to have that further clarified if needed.
Lice Squad Canada chooses to offer many helpful products and services for head lice including visors, tweezers, several lice products and lice sticks. We do this because if it works we use it to make our job easier and to provide a better service and product offering to our clients. The LouseBuster Device is a welcome and wonderful innovation that complements our current service offerings and fits very well into our pesticide free approach to dealing with head lice. As it does have some contra-indications and may not be as cost effective for some, we still utilize other products and make them available for those who wish to do it themselves. Combing will always be essential and required no matter what is used and we make that very clear to our clients.

I am sorry if you are offened by anything on my web site or by the products that I choose to use in my business. Slandering my intergrity or company in a public way is not a kind or smart thing to do.

I worked extremely hard to build this company long before anyone else decided that it was a good business to get into. I started Lice Squad to help people who like me were having a problem with head lice and did not want to use pesticides on their kids. I am flattered that my vision is being seen by others but my main focus is on providing my clients with the very best quality lice products and services available. I utilize as many tools as possible to accomplish lice removal as my client’s satisfaction and happiness are the only result that I seek. After 10 years in business and thousands of people helped, I am accomplishing that goal, One Head at a Time. I will continue to innovate as needed to make sure that anyone who is suffering with head lice can reach out and get the help that they need.
Thank you.

Dawn Mucci said...

Please allow me to clarify on a couple of things so that readers are not given false information.
1. The Nice Lice Lady has been my moniker since I began Lice Squad Canada in 2001 and has been used in the company literature, press, and web site for many years. You may reference our Logo, marketing flyer, press articles and website to see the Nice Lice Lady super hero picture and caption "Kids Love the Nice Lice Lady". I am happy to have that further clarified if needed.
Lice Squad Canada chooses to offer many helpful products and services for head lice including visors, tweezers, several lice products and lice sticks. We do this because if it works we use it to make our job easier and to provide a better service and product offering to our clients. The LouseBuster Device is a welcome and wonderful innovation that complements our current service offerings and fits very well into our pesticide free approach to dealing with head lice. As it does have some contra-indications and may not be as cost effective for some, we still utilize other products and make them available for those who wish to do it themselves. Combing will always be essential and required no matter what is used and we make that very clear to our clients.

I am sorry if you are offened by anything on my web site or by the products that I choose to use in my business. Slandering my intergrity or company in a public way is not a kind or smart thing to do.

I worked extremely hard to build this company long before anyone else decided that it was a good business to get into. I started Lice Squad to help people who like me were having a problem with head lice and did not want to use pesticides on their kids. I am flattered that my vision is being seen by others but my main focus is on providing my clients with the very best quality lice products and services available. I utilize as many tools as possible to accomplish lice removal as my client’s satisfaction and happiness are the only result that I seek. After 10 years in business and thousands of people helped, I am accomplishing that goal, One Head at a Time. I will continue to innovate as needed to make sure that anyone who is suffering with head lice can reach out and get the help that they need.
Thank you.

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

Thank you for your comment, Dawn.
Regarding the name "The Nice Lice Lady", I saw many "lice ladies" online before I chose my moniker, but had not seen the Nice Lice Lady anywhere. Thank you for the clarification.

Regarding slander, this post began as a result of your criticism against my advice regarding hair dryers and the not-so-subtle insinuation that I was giving out wacky advice. My advice is based in the research that was presented by Lareda Sciences and I have always provided links to any research claims that I post on my blog.

I am NOT criticizing your ability as a lice professional. You have built up an impressive business model and through your franchise, you have helped many, many people with the problem of head lice. You know head lice, and that is why I was so surprised by the comment. I am also not criticizing the LouseBuster. The research has shown it to be greatly effective.

I am critical of the promotion of any one product at the expense of other options. In Alberta, our health authority tells people that they NEED pediculisides to deal with head lice. We both know that this is simply not true. The NPA promotes the use of the Licemeister, which is a fine comb, but they promote it at the exclusion of all other combs. The LouseBuster is getting that same type of hype and when you commented on my "hair dryer" advice, I felt that your comment was at best an attack on my competence and at worst a disservice to people who are looking for accessible ways to fight head lice.

As lice professionals, we both constantly look for new research and new tools. Let's continue to do this with the same goal in mind: to help individuals, families and organizatons to overcome the problem of head lice.

Thanks again for your response.
Take care,
Cathy

Splaxx said...

Six years and the neighboring country away and you are assisting two little girls become Lice free. thank you for your blog. I figured a Hair dryer would do the job after the washing treatments but your confirming with the research was welcome.

And saves a 200 dollar per person visit.

Thank you,

The Daddy of two warmed up noodle heads.

Sebbie Shaw said...

Thanks so much for this information. Here in New Zealand we only have ONE woman with this thing Aire Alle and she's charging famlies like $600 to do use the thing on them. Wondering if I could some how purchase it myself and bring it in the country to use on my family.

Sebbie Shaw said...

But great to know about the hair dryer trick it is supposed to be on the lowest setting to work?

Cathy, the Nice Lice Lady. said...

Use the blow dryer on the highest speed, but not the highest heat (don't burn anyone.) Use it on dry hair, in sections, directed at the scalp. I like the blow dryer because it is (a) easy to use, (b) easily accessible - you can use it again and again, and (c) it is inexpensive.