Head-scratcher: Lice treatment anything but a lousy business
April 12, 2018
“People are just freaked out because they’re bugs,” business owner Jamie Primosch said. “It does not mean your kids are dirty.”
Down a dirt road and inside a High Springs home, Jamie Primosch combed through a child’s thick, brown hair, tediously picking through the strands — inspecting for pesky, ugly little bugs.
Lice, parasitic insects known for crawling into the hair of young children with plans to stay awhile, are hard to spot, she said.
They’re about the size of a sesame seed, and their eggs are even smaller.
Primosch had a light strapped to her forehead, looking for millimeter-sized trouble. Adding to their elusiveness, lice run from light.
But it didn’t take long for Primosch’s comb — mining for lice — to uncover them.
“Yep. I’ve found some,” Primosch said, small in stature but big on beating bugs.
Primosch, 36, is the owner of Lice Authority, a home-treatment business for head lice.
In the Lice Authority business model, Primosch and other trained lice-removal technicians take house calls, check all the residents in the home for lice and treat those who have them by combing out the lice and eggs.
They treat the hair with a Canadian-made conditioner with a high pH level, which kills both lice and eggs.
It’s sold in bulk-sized quantities to certified lice-removal technicians, she said, and is proven to work better and more safely than over-the-counter treatments that lice have become resistant to.
Lice Authority treatments range in price from $75 to $200 per head, or client, depending on the length and thickness of the hair, Primosch said.
Additional family members can be treated at a 20 percent discount.
rimosch, a physician’s assistant at North Florida Regional Medical Center, said she started the business six months ago after spending time treating her own children and their classmates for lice.
“The next thing I knew, I was having those kids’ parents call me, asking to check them next time,” she said. “That’s when I thought I could make a business out of this.”
After doing some research and training, Primosch registered her business and started treating hair.
“I sort of naturally became a lice person,” she said.
To start the business, Primosch said, all she had to do was register her business with the state.
She said she doesn’t have to be a licensed cosmetologist to treat hair for lice because she’s not “technically washing the clients hair.” She leaves the treatment in the hair and the client washes it out.
No medical organization must be notified either, she said, because it’s a voluntary treatment.
Primosch, who in the last week alone has been called to eight homes needing lice treatments, said she got into the business hoping she’d be able to get rid of clients’ lice, along with the stigma surrounding becoming infested with them.
“People are just freaked out because they’re bugs,” she said. “It does not mean your kids are dirty.”
In fact, she said lice survive better in clean hair, although the cleanliness of your home has no bearing on whether you get them.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 6 million to 12 million infestations occur each year in the United States among children 3 to 11 years of age, according to its website.
Some studies suggest girls get head lice more often than boys, probably due to more frequent head-to-head contact.
Primosch said there isn’t a “lice season,” but there can be an uptick in lice outbreaks when children return to school after long breaks.
Alachua County Public Schools spokeswoman Jackie Johnson said the district does not check or treat for lice, at least not randomly. There must be clear signs of head lice infestation before a nurse will ask a parent to check a child for lice, she said.
A parent guide to the 2017-2018 school year states that children found to have live head lice and/or nits (louse eggs) will be sent home with instructions for treatment. A school nurse must check and clear the child before they return to class.
Primosch’s client Monday, a mother of five girls who requested anonymity for fear she and her children would be stigmatized, said she called Lice Authority because previous over-the-counter treatments took hours to complete and the lice came back. She believed one of her children got lice from school.
“Yesterday was my freak out day,” the woman said. “I found Lice Authority on Facebook and got (Primosch) on the phone last night.”
One of the girls waiting to get checked for lice told her youngest sister, “You got more so you have to go first.”
Mom said her youngest never lets her brush her hair without fighting, but Primosch picked through her hair with a wire comb, added the conditioner, massaged it into the girl’s scalp, brushed it back and forth, and then picked at it again.
The girl sat cooperatively while limiting her complaints to a dull whimper while Primosch caught lice off of her head.
Primosch said she has a 100 percent guarantee on her treatments, so she makes sure to leave none behind.
The girls’ treatment revealed many eggs and lice. Any leftover lice remnants wash out after the treatment.
Primosch said working for those with head lice is satisfying, despite how tedious it is.
“I really just started out helping people that I knew because it is something you need help with … and it just sort of organically grew into a business,” she said. “It really is rewarding because you get to go in and help people with something that’s so stressful for them.”