Back-to-school season can mean more exposures to lice for your youngest clients or your own children, so it makes sense that September is National Lice Awareness Month. “In most states, cosmetology regulations make it against the law to cut or style the hair of someone with head lice,” according to a statement issued by Lice Clinics of America. “Yet stylists are reporting more and more cases of head lice in their salons, which can be due to the fact that most lice are now resistant to the most common anti-lice products.”
With more than 150 clinics in the U.S. and 100 more internationally, Lice Clinics of America has experts who have scratched out a five-step action plan for stylists handling a client with a head full of lice:
- Stay calm. Except for the itching, lice are harmless, and medical researchers have found no link between hygiene and head lice. Your client isn’t dirty. Remember: lice can spread only by head-to-head contact—and don’t forget about facial hair.
- Keep communication matter-of-fact. To avoid panicking clients, approach this as a common problem you’ll help them solve. Stay professional as you assure clients that it’s not their fault; 6-12 million people get lice every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Share your knowledge. First, discourage home remedies, which range from the ridiculous (mayonnaise) to the dangerous (kerosene). However, clients may need more than whatever they pick up at the drugstore. The National Pediculosis Association reports receiving calls every day from parents and health professionals reporting failure of traditional over-the-counter lice medications to solve the problem, and there’s evidence that lice have become resistant to these products.
- Direct the client to a medically proven solution. Lice Clinics of America urges hairdressers to steer clients to the nearest LCA facility. “Lice Clinics of America offers the only FDA-cleared medical device clinically proven to kill live lice and more than 99 percent of eggs (nits) in a single treatment that takes about an hour,” the company states. “Success is guaranteed. The company also offers a non-toxic home Lice Remover Kit that makes home lice removal much easier and more effective.”
- Invite the client back. Let your clients know that they are welcome back when they’re lice-free—either later that day or for an appointment on a future day. You can be the hero who provides them with the solution to an irritating problem.
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