Adrienne Gaily has fought the battle against lice and won.
Over a year ago, she contracted lice after sharing a brush with her young daughter. Gaily purchased a lice-killing shampoo kit at a drug store. But, due to new “super lice” that have grown resistant to conventional chemicals, those over-the-counter kits are only effective 40 percent of the time and only target the bugs, leaving sand-grain-sized eggs to hatch and continue the cycle. Gaily’s husband, Aaron, would come home from work and use a special comb for nearly two hours to clear her head of eggs.
The Gaileys were eventually able to beat their lice infestation using shampoos and endless combing, but many families struggle with lice for weeks or even months. The tiny bugs infest as many as 12 million U.S. children annually, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Adrienne Gaily researched extermination methods, and eventually came across a device called the AirAlle online. The machine resembles a vacuum cleaner with small nozzles at the end, and pulls hair up in a specific pattern that exposes each patch of the scalp to direct heat for 30 seconds. Gaily was impressed by rave reviews from users, and asked a few owners of lice treatment clinics whether the device was too good to be true. She determined the machine was exactly what frustrated families in Monterey County needed, and got trained and licensed to use the AirAlle. In May, she and Aaron opened a Lice Clinics of America branch in Monterey, sharing the same Pacific Street building space with his chiropractic office. The Weekly spoke with Gaily at the clinic about the best way to beat these bugs.
Weekly: How did you react to your lice infestation?
Gaily: I reacted how a typical mother would react. I was grossed out and stressed and unprepared. I discovered that most areas in the country have a lice clinic or places that provide comb-out services, but not Monterey County. I thought it was crazy how an area that clearly has a demand doesn’t have a clinic. I was so frustrated I began looking into this [the AirAlle]. I talked to four different clinic owners and the company and asked if it really works, and it does. Lice Clinics of America has a 1-percent re-treatment rate, far better than those drug-store kits. Since our clinic has opened, nobody has come in for a follow-up.
Tell me how and why the AirAlle works.
The AirAlle uses heated air to dehydrate the nits [or eggs] and bugs by blowing hot air through holes on a disposable tip. We treat one section of hair for roughly 30 seconds, pulling long hair up to get to the scalp. The reason why the AirAlle works differently than a regular blow dryer is the balance in temperature. The amount of heat it takes to dehydrate eggs would burn your scalp if you used your blow dryer at home. Since it’s hot air and not chemicals, it’s unlikely the bugs will evolve and build up a resistance.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about lice?
The stigma isn’t as bad as it used to be, but there are still people who think it’s an issue of hygiene or wealth, when in reality lice affects us all. The biggest misconception I’ve seen is about the eggs. Some people call our clinic and say they used the lice-killing shampoo from the store and are upset it’s not working – they need to understand you have to get all the eggs too. If you don’t get every egg, the problem will continue. It’s hard, because they’re the size of a strawberry seed.
What’s the most fascinating or frightening fact you’ve learned about lice?
The rate of multiplication is pretty scary. The fact that one bug can lay 150 eggs in a month is amazing and concerning. But really, they’re not that scary. Some people fear them and can’t handle the thought of combing them out, but you have to be literally rubbing heads to get them, usually.
Other than sparking fear in the hearts of local lice, what does your clinic offer the community?
I just want families to know they can go to a quick, clean, efficient place to solve their stressful problem – it’s peace of mind. It allows anxious parents and kids to get back to living their lives. I never expected to be in this position, but now I am. Who would’ve thought lice could be so fun?