// THE STAR, MALAYSIA

Too busy to remove your kid’s cooties? London now has a lice removal salon to tackle those bloodsuckers

London log by Choi Tuck Wo

The Hairforce attracting Asian attention:

We’ve all heard of “ghostbusters”, termite exterminators and even rat catchers who make our lives so much less miserable. Now, there’s a crack squad whose members call themselves the lice assassins. Their mission – to clear nits and head lice from the nation’s scalps.

For years, these tiny yet blood-thirsty parasites have become every parent’s nightmare, infesting nearly half of Britain’s four-11-year-olds annually.

Even younger and older siblings, parents, grandparents, teachers and caregivers are affected; head lice is the second most communicable health problem among children apart from the common cold.

In the old days, some parents resorted to using all kinds of chemicals, including kerosene, to try and get rid of the lice from their children’s heads. And those with heavy lice infestation were shaven bald.

The blood, sweat and tears the lice extract from almost everyone in the family are all too familiar. What’s more, these creepy crawlies are smart, too. They know that after a long day of preparing breakfast, school runs, office work or household chores, most mums are too worn out to check on their kids, let alone look for lice.

Don’t despair though. You can now book your child into an upscale spa and let a professional team of lice assassins do the work.

Meet The Hairforce – believed to be the first of its kind in London – specially trained to clear lice and nits the traditional yet trusted way – by hand.

“It’s all very glamorous. We want to let the children feel absolutely pampered and unburdened by the problem,” said its founder Dee Wright.

So, while the specialists get to work, the kids settle down comfortably in special massage chairs and are kept occupied with the latest computer games, DVDs or magazines.
Wright said the whole idea was to restore the children’s spirits as they could have been physically and psychologically drained by the problem. The condition, which can cause embarrassment and social alienation, can even take a toll on affected pupils’ academic performance.

Many parents are unable to cope with the issue because they haven’t got the time, energy or inclination, due to their hectic lifestyles.

Wright said about 45% of British women with children aged between five and 10 years old are working mums caught up in the rat race.

“Parenting has changed over the last 20 to 30 years. Before, we would have taken our kids to the bathroom to clear ticks for them,” she noted.

She claimed that the problem had reached what she called “epidemic proportions”, with Britons spending £30mil (RM210mil) on special shampoos and treatments every year.

However, 80% of these “cures” have been proven by a government research group to be ineffective because the lice had developed immunity to them, she added.

“Manual removal is still the most effective method as we tackle the nits as well as the lice, which breaks the life cycle.”

She explained that the process involved three stages – vacuuming, nit combing and nit picking. The first part focused on vacuuming the hair with a special device to remove the lice. Next, a lice comb is used to clear out the nits – generally 80% to 90% of them can be eliminated that way.

Finally, special tweezers are used to pick out the remaining nits individually.

“We also use magnifying visors and special lighting to ensure the job is done professionally,” she added.

Since The Hairforce was set up in north London last year, it has treated over 1,000 children, with each of the three 90-minute sessions being priced at £30 (RM210).

The innovative service has, without doubt, received support from various quarters for catering to the needs of today’s busy families.

Wright quoted The Body Shop founder Dame Anita Roddick as commending the business for being “one of the most creative, innovative and relevant out there.”

Malaysian Star

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