It's a subject that makes most people itch just thinking about it, but a St. John's woman has turned the problem of head lice into a new business.
Tammy-Lee Joyce started Lice Squad Newfoundland and Labrador after one of her kids got head lice, and she realized what little support is out there.
Head lice are wingless insects that live on the human scalp and feed exclusively on human blood, and often become a problem for school-age children.
"I was like every other parent out there, so once I dealt with it and killed the lice so there were no more eggs being laid, I started my research," Joyce told the St. John's Morning Show.
That research led to her to Lice Squad, a company that provides tools and education for dealing with head lice.
Joyce, a nurse, realized that the tools available in local pharmacies are not adequate. She said the proper combs and techniques can make it much easier to eliminate lice.
"This can do in less than an hour what it would take most parents eight to 10 hours to do," she said. "It is very overwhelming and it tends to fall on the women, on the mothers. Then because they're doing it, who's going to check their hair?"
The art of nitpicking
Lice Squad provides families with a kit that includes a "Super Hero louse trap comb," a solution to put in the hair to kill lice and even glasses with lights to help spot lice and their eggs on a scalp.
Joyce said once the solution is used and lice are killed, then the process of nitpicking begins — which means a comb is run through sections of hair to eliminate eggs, or nits, that lay dormant on the person's scalp.
"We've lost the art of nit-picking actually," she said.
"Years ago, my mother-in-law explained, that's what they did every Sunday night. Everyone sat to the kitchen table, you combed out the hair and if anyone found anything resembling a louse then you just treated it."
Joyce said there are a lot of misconceptions about lice, which is why education is so important. She said many people don't understand that lice are different than fleas that live on pets, and that scrubbing down the walls of your home with bleach isn't going to make a difference as they can only live on the human head.
Meeting a demand
Business has been fairly busy since she started the local branch of Lice Squad, and Joyce said the problem of lice may even be worse than it used to be given that so many boys now have long hair.
While she realizes how gross people may find head lice, she saw a demand that wasn't being met in the city and decided to jump on it.
"I didn't want anyone to go through what I went through. I saw an opportunity and liked the entrepreneurial aspect of it and this company, licesquad.com, just was awesome. It was like 'I can do this'," she said.
"My husband said, 'Does it have to be lice?' and I just said, 'People are willing to pay for this.'"