by Anna Ferraro
“I like to help people,” shared Olivia Mefford, the owner of the Lice Treatment of America’s Jacksonville Clinic on 520 South Main Street. Opening in early January 2017, Mefford’s clinic is already establishing itself as a viable and inviting solution for families or individuals who find that their lives have been invaded by head lice.
Mefford’s inspiration for starting this business began when her sister’s family had an experience with head lice, and the lice spread to Mefford’s children as well. When trying to discern the “severity” of the case, Mefford asked her sister over the phone, “How bad is it?” Her sister responded, “Isn’t one bad enough?” Mefford agreed, and began doing research.
Mefford knew the frustration of using the typical over-the-counter treatments. Not only are they toxic and expensive, they aren’t guaranteed to work. Most head lice nowadays have developed a resistance to the chemicals that have been traditionally used to treat them – rendering the chemical treatments ineffective.
“One louse can lay up to ten eggs per day,” Mefford reported, “And they are laid close to the scalp. The nits hatch, and if not taken care of they will turn into bugs.” She further explained that typically, the over-the-counter products do not kill the eggs or the nits. Thus, she summarized, “They’re really only 18-20% effective. With them, you have to re-treat over and over again. [It can be] a never-ending cycle.”
Through Mefford’s research, she found the Lice Clinic of America in Springfield on Isles, and took her daughter there for an AirAlle treatment – a scientifically proven, non-toxic, and highly effective treatment for head lice. She shared excitedly, “The treatment takes about 30 minutes using a warm air [blower] that’s cooler than a blow dryer. It dehydrates the eggs so that they die.” The Airalle treatment is followed with a comb-out, and then an application of Dimethicone oil that stays on for 15 minutes. Mefford explained that the oil “plugs the spherical so the lice can’t breathe any more.” She finished by triumphantly sharing the best part about it – “If you complete all three steps, your treatment success is guaranteed.”
Several simple follow-up steps are given for after the treatment, including laundering clothing and bedding, and thoroughly vacuuming specific areas. Clinics recommend throwing stuffed animals in a bag for 24 hours, placing hairbrushes and elastics in a bag in the freezer for 24 hours, etc. These simple steps are based on the fact that “louse will not live off the head for 24 hours.”
Mefford reflected on her experience at that lice clinic in Springfield – “In 90 minutes, we were lice-free.” Even better, “The full treatment is guaranteed for 30 days, as long as everyone in the household is checked.” She also reflected on her initial feeling of panic when realizing that her own children had been exposed to, and had head lice. She shared, when people discover that, “Immediately, everyone panics – lice is a human parasite, it doesn’t affect animals, it comes from head-to-head contact, that usually has to be for more than 30 seconds.” Because it can be passed so easily, “It’s almost impossible to track where you pick head lice up.”
She added, “The important thing is that lice do not discriminate. They don’t care if you’re rich or poor, clean or dirty. They just want a food source. [Unfortunately], there’s a huge stigma around it, where people don’t want to talk about it. It’s very common; it’s not something to be ashamed of.”
After her own experience with Lice Clinic of America, and feeling the huge “amount of stress-relief of having someone else treat [us], and knowing that we were done with [head lice],” Mefford set about to bring a clinic to Jacksonville, so that she could offer her community the same kind of help that she received. Together with her mom, Debora Wisdom, she opened Lice Clinic of America – Jacksonville, and has officially been in business since early January.
Offering the full AirAlle treatment, head checks, comb-outs, take-home treatments, and more, Mefford’s clinic has already treated over 20 cases, and counting. She shared, “We’ve had clients come in who had done the over-the-counter treatment, and it was ineffective…. Everyone that I’ve followed up with from their first treatment [with us], everything has gone well, and haven’t done any re-treats….”
When asked how her first weeks of business went, Mefford stated, “I went into it with low expectations, not knowing how it would be perceived.” However, she was pleasantly surprised by the community response and said, “The word’s getting around that this treatment is easy, much less stressful on the parents and kids, and the at-home follow-up is very easy as well. Compared to a weekly comb-out with over-the-counter stuff that’s not guaranteed, this is much more optimal.”
Knowing the stress of dealing with head lice in her own home, Mefford shared, “I just wanted to be done with it and done with it quickly, and [at our clinic], that’s something we can help out with. I enjoy helping people, and that’s why I do what I do.”
To set up an appointment at the clinic, call (855) 542-3487. Or visit them online at www.liceclinicjacksonvilleil.com and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LiceClinicsJacksonvilleIL.