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in focus

Susan Truluck (left) and Cherie Parker, owners of Heartland Healthy Heads

Taking the Fear Out of Lice By Julie Burton Photos / Carmen Carver

Head lice. Did you scratch your head? The mere thought of the harmless parasite tends to send most people into panic mode. Cherie Parker and Susan Truluck of Olathe-based Heartland Healthy Heads don’t want you scratching your head at the thought of head lice. Their mission is to decrease the stigma of head lice to the public through education. The education they provide is priceless. They want to help everyone get past head lice safely. “We don’t want to instill panic in people,” Truluck says. “We joke around that our 24-hour hotline is there to talk the parents off the ledge at 4 in the morning.” Lice have been lining parents along the ledge for a long time — since before the black plague. And they are not going away anytime soon. There is a growing concern that the bugs are becoming genetically resistant to the chemicals in products sold over the counter and prescriptions.

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What are these blood-sucking parasites? Parker and Truluck want to make sure you know the facts of head lice. Lice are not a health hazard or a sign of poor hygiene. They do not spread disease. They only feed on the human scalp. Lice cannot jump or f ly. They typically are spread by hair-to-hair contact — a hug or children playing closely together. Clothing or a couch can spread lice, too, but it’s rare. Lice cannot live off the human head for more than 24 hours. That is something to keep in mind when you clean your home. Even though the bugs are not harmful to your health, you still need to get rid of them. Some of the worst cases Parker and Truluck have seen are from middle-school girls, who are at an age when they start doing their own hair. Because moms are not brushing and styling their daughters’ hair anymore, lice tends to go unnoticed. By the time the girl notices the itching, she has had lice for two weeks or longer. “It’s our mission to decrease the stigma,” Parker says. “Check often and treat early. Be aware of your child’s head whenever they change social circles.” It is best to check for lice once a week, as this can keep heavy infestations from happening. The only 100-percent effective way to remove lice is to shave the head, but it shouldn’t have to be this drastic. Heartland Healthy Heads is Kansas City’s exclusive providers for AirAllé (pronounced air-a-lay), a clinically tested, FDA-cleared medical device that is 99.2-percent effective in dehydrating nits. The device is similar in

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