Standing in for Vanessa was Gabby Roslin.  Having experienced nits and head lice in the home with her own children, Gabby was particularly interested in understanding how the lice removal company, ‘The Hairforce – Lice Assassins’ operate and any intelligence on the beasts….

GR: We’re talking nits, how to get rid of them, tell me your nit stories

GR: Now, the other thing we’re talking about this morning is lice and nits. And good morning to Dee Wright. You’re founder of The Hairforce, the nit and lice removal company

DW: Morning

GR: Now, tell me about Hairforce! The Hairforce – Lice Assassins is a nit and lice removal service. We clear nits and head lice infestations for you. So we do all the work, we do it all by hand we don’t use any chemicals or treatments and we remove all the lice and all the nits. And if we’re working on you, we need to see you three times four days apart to break the cycle of development that you’re inevitably struggling with

GR: Can we eradicate lice, completely?

DW: Well I think, you know, well I’ve got a business based on nits and head lice being out there but we can certainly, certainly reduce the issue.

GR: Now, we’ve had it in our house as one of my daughters has…

DW: Congratulations

GR: Yes, one of them brought it home and I did everything, I did the conditioner, and I saw the eggs, but we also saw the creepy crawlies and I have to say, that wasn’t nice and my eight year old really didn’t like actually seeing the things crawling around, and then we realised, we all had it. But for people who haven’t had it, how can we identify a nit?

DW: Well, a lot of people sort of rely on seeing if somebody itches but 53% of people are totally asymptomatic, they do not itch.

GR: Really?

DW: So you can’t just rely on that. What we always recommend to all the parents that we see is that they do a weekly check so that at the end of the school week take some time with your child, gossip about the week, use it in a positive way but then check the hair and you have to be quite systematic at checking it, go around very carefully and look to see if there are any black specks for a start on the scalp and that’s a good way of thinking about it, if you see any tiny little things…

GR: But they were white, I remember them being a grey/white actually in the hair

DW: Are you talking about the lice or the nits – the eggs?

GR: The eggs

DW: Yeah, when eggs are empty, when the nits have hatched they’ll go a sort of white

GR: Whoo! I’ve started itching, isn’t it funny? Ooh

DW: Then you can tell they are empty, look for black specks and then also you’re looking for anything that’s attached to the hair and it’ll be fresh laid eggs are very very close to the scalp they’re at the base of the hair. Hair grows about a centimetre a week so if you’re looking for also nits that are further down the hair then, this shows that the infestation has been there quite awhile. A lot of those would have hatched by the time they’re further down the hair anyway. But you’re looking to see if there’s anything attached to the hair you can blow at it to see if it doesn’t move when you blow, then it could well be a nit and then you need to pull it with your fingernail and see if it comes off.

GR: And if there are eggs, there are lice. Is that right?

DW: Not necessarily, you can have a lot of eggs or some eggs sitting in there and you won’t be able to find the perpetrator, the live louse who’s laid them. It could have crawled off, it could have been that, when you nit combed you killed it but you didn’t really see it because you know, if you put lots of conditioner in, sometimes it obscures your view. Or, it could have died and just fallen off at some stage. They last for about 30 days.

GR: Dee, when you go to dinner parties or parties, does the same thing happen that’s happening right here? I can see six people sitting around, and everybody scratching their heads!

DW: Laughs

DW: I have presented to bald bankers and they all itch. So yeah, I mean there’s that whole psychosomatic side about lice where everybody itches when they think about it and talk about it and you have to get beyond that.

GR: Now, if you don’t get rid of them in your head, can they cause, you know, a lot of damage? They bite, don’t they?

DW: Well, there’s this whole thing, which you’ll see in the news and you’ll hear probably discussed on your show today about lice because everybody’s got them, they are pretty much a ubiquitous part of childhood and you know they’re just little parasites and don’t worry about it and some people will not do anything about it because they have that attitude. The thing about lice is that they are bloodsuckers, they are sucking away at your blood and they are moving from host to host and they carry bacteria, they carry germs with them, so you know. Impetigo was eradicated in this country, its back and it’s been back for the last fifteen years…

GR: Really, because of lice?

DW: Because lice carry impetigo, they carry all sorts of things so you’ve got to think quite carefully about it. Am I quite happy to have these blood-suckers on my child moving between well all over place who can come from who knows where. What we see, really interesting when we clear children we see children who have had them for many years who’ve got very heavy infestations, we see a strong change in their behaviour and the parents witness it and the school, will comment on it so if the child has got a nice big infestation of it and its been there for awhile they’ve more often than not got a snivelling nose, they are not sleeping that well, they’re itching in their sleep and all of these things mean that their concentration is affected. There’s a term in the English language called ‘feeling lousy,’ which comes from having lice, long term, infestations of lice and they give you flu-like symptoms so all of these things affect a child’s wellbeing

GR: Oh my word

DW: A child’s wellbeing and then we also listen to children talking to us about how I’ll sit at the back of the class on purpose so nobody can look at my hair

GR: Ohhh

DW: Or I’d never volunteer for the school play, as I don’t want a light on my hair

GR: Oh no

DW: Or you know they get bullied in the playground, they’ll get marginalised as people often know who has got them and they wont invite them on a play-date, they won’t ever get invited to sleep-over’s. So all of these things actually affect the development of your child and that’s worth thinking about, I think.

GR: Now, Dee can I just ask you, so some of the fallacies, is it true, you just mentioned sleep-over’s, that lice don’t live on pillows or bed-sheets and you don’t need to wash them

DW: Well, they need to feed on blood, they need to feed on human blood and it needs to be from the scalp

GR: Right

DW: They like to feed every four hours so if an adult louse crawls off a head and they are genetically programmed to travel, to move to another, to find another host otherwise they are constantly intermingling with their own siblings, if they crawl off 24 – 48 hours it will be dead, it will dehydrate and die because it needs to feed, so

GR: So we should actually change the pillowcases then

DW: Well, what we do, I mean, there’s a whole debate about whether that’s necessary or not. What we say to our clients is that they are paying for our service so let’s be cautious and careful and you never know what the probabilities are, so change the sheets after they see us, after you’ve done a good old clear out, you should give them some fresh sheets, yes


DW: You could get out of bed and something could be sitting there

GR: Well, do you know, I have to say it does sound like we’re talking about creatures from Dr. Who the way we’re talking about living and infestation.

DW: They’re great, fantastic

GR: And, the other thing is, is it true that they don’t go to clean hair?

DW: Oh, no

GR: That’s it yeah, it’s too clean

DW: It’s about blood. They like healthy people, they like healthy blood

GR: But if your hair is too clean, sorry I’m getting it all confused here, that lice like people with dirty hair?

DW: No, they like clean and dirty hair

GR: Oh

DW: Clean hair is easy to hang onto, it’s easier for them, so yeah, we have very well manicured children and a lot of them have got lice

GR: That’s what I meant, yes, but I got it all completely around the wrong way!

DW: But, if someone’s got dirty hair and you know they like high blood sugar levels, which is why they like female blood in particular, they like children as they nice have high blood sugar levels when they’re young they dislike testosterone so you’ll find that daddy’s don’t really get them

GR: Yes, well David didn’t really get them, he was lucky but the three of us did, I have two girls…

DW: You see them on men but they tend to be very low numbers, they want to get off, go back to females, as they are more tasty

GR: Oh yeah Dee, it’s great, so it’s Hairforce – Lice Assassins

DW: The Hairforce – Lice Assassins

GR: And also your story is going to be on Inside Out, this week BBC 1 at 7.30pm on Monday. But Dee it was an absolute delight to talk to you. I think – in the nicest possible way!

DW: Pleasure

GR: It was a delight but we are all scratching now

DW: Next time if you have a problem, bring your kids to us

GR: I hope we don’t have it again, but thank you very much indeed. I could have talked to Dee all morning that was incredible, so much to learn!

DW: Thank you

Check out the Vanessa Feltz show: http://www.bbc.co.uk/london/content/articles/2005/04/22/radio_vanessa_feltz_feature.shtml

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