GABLES, Fla. ó The 7-year-old girl bounces in her chair as
the technician slides a fine metal comb through her wet hair.
like a spa day," Ayla Marchante said. "I donít
even have to go to school!"
her twin sister, Alli, arenít at a high-end spa or hair
salon. Theyíre at Lice Troopers, a lice clinic in Coral
Gables that specializes in all-natural lice removal
joy of being 7, " said Barbara Marchante, the twinsí
Marchantes are but one of dozens of patients the lice
treatment franchise sees daily across its four locations in
South Florida. According to Lice Troopers CEO and founder,
Arie Harel, the back-to-school season has always been the
busiest because students return from summer camps.
a.m. Monday, the clinicís schedule was nearly 80 percent
full for the day, and by 5 p.m., the lines were out the door.
Lice Troopers, which opened in 2014, has locations in the
Gables, Kendall, Bay Harbor and Hollywood, Fla. Itís also
opening clinics in Doral and Pembroke Pines.
attributes the growth in business to two things: immunity to
chemical treatments and selfies.
has a phone, and theyíre all taking selfie pictures,"
he said. "So head lice is spreading at so much of a rapid
pace now than ever before."
Harel used to see elementary-aged children in his clinics, he
now sees kids up to 16.
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an
estimated 6 million to 12 million infestations occur each year
in the United States among children 3 to 11.
white, sesame seed-sized parasites that attach themselves to
hair and feed on blood. They can live on hair found on the
head, body and in the pubic area. If allowed to reproduce, a
proliferation of lice will cause an itching sensation that can
only be stopped once the lice and their eggs ó called nits
ó are removed.
fly or jump, and head lice isnít caused by poor hygiene. It
can only be transmitted by direct contact with the hair of an
infested person, said the CDC.
Florida Health Department doesnít keep track of lice cases.
But Daisy Diego-Gonzalez, a Miami-Dade county public schools
spokesperson, said September usually is too early to see an
uptick in lice cases. The spike usually increases when the
hats and jackets come out in the cooler months. So far, very
few cases have been reported, she said.
Dr. Aileen Marty, a Florida International University professor
of infectious diseases and practicing physician, said a spike
in cases often do occur during the back-to-school season.
camps, she said, are a "wonderful source of lice."
to Marty, lice with immunity to treatments ó called super
lice ó are fueling the problem. "Resistance is a real
issue. The resistance is absolutely true," she said.
have started to turn to more powerful and toxic pesticides
like lindane, malathion and carbaryl. But even these are
losing their effectiveness as well due to resistence, she
businesses arenít regulated by the state of Florida and lice
technicians donít have state permits, but technicians at
Lice Troopers are sent to the companyís training centers for
about six weeks before working in the field.
Hodelys Barcelo discovered her daughter, Alyssa, had lice, she
went straight to the clinic.
said the Lice Troopers lice-free guarantee was a huge
incentive to bring her daughter in.
wanted to make sure that whatever treatment we did, weíd be
free of the problem," she said.
said she didnít want to spend money on over-the-counter
treatments that may not work. She also didnít want to risk
bringing an even greater infestation to her house through
is] nothing to be ashamed of," Hodelys said. "Itís
not because your dirty. It happens to the cleanest of