In The News - March, 2014

Toronto Head Lice Removal was back on Global News again tonight, speaking about what some are now referring to as "super lice". 

What that really means, according to Gina and to many who are already aware, is that head lice are simply becoming increasingly resistant to the pesticide shampoos commonly prescribed by doctors and pharmacists. These products have been failing people already for several years. 

This is why we have always advised clients to ask questions about the products they're being prescribed, including as to the effectiveness of expensive shampoos and sprays that require frequent repetition.

You can watch the Global clip here.



In The News - March, 2014

CTV News online recently reached out to Gina for some commentary on the latest concern about the spread of head lice through the growing popularity of mobile devices and "selfies".

You can read more about this phenomenon, and Gina's comments on it, here.



In The News - Oct. 2013

 On Oct. 15th, 2013 Toronto's Global Evening News again followed Gina with a few members of her team (including Laurie and Skyla) to an actual Head Lice Party in Toronto's East end. 

A great time was had by all and - as always - a good many lice were successfully removed!

You can see that clip here!

(And here's some pics from the party!)

Special thanks to Carey Marsden and Global TV, as well as Lianne and the kids!



In The News - Oct. 2013

Toronto Head Lice Removal's own Gina Zacher sat down with the Global Morning News team 

on Oct. 2nd, 2013 to talk more about the growing trend in Head Lice Parties

Follow the link to the clip right here!

 THLR would like to thank Liza, Antony, Rosey and Kris and everyone at Global TV Toronto!



 In The News - Sept. 2013 

Gina was very happy to sit down with Lisa Evans of The Toronto Star recently to discuss everything "head lice", including our newest service - Lice Parties!

Here is her article, reprinted in full (below), and also a link to the article here.

Happy School Year everyone! - Gina


Got lice? Throw a party

Gatherings help parents share costs of professional delousing services and reduces stigma.

Gina Zacher, of /Toronto Head Lice, checks 7-year-old Ceana Parekh's hair as her daughter Samantha awaits her turn. Zacher's company began advertising lice parties as port of her sirvices this year.


Gina Zacher, of /Toronto Head Lice, checks 7-year-old Ceana Parekh's hair as her daughter Samantha awaits her turn. Zacher's company began advertising lice parties as part of her services this year.

When Dina Mei realized her 13-year old son had brought home head lice from summer camp, she did what any savvy mother would do — she called the lice checker and ordered pizza.

Gone are the days when parents kept silent about their child having lice. “I know from being on parent council that if one parent doesn’t take care of it and sends their kids to school, it just becomes a disgusting vicious cycle,” says Mei.

Since her son had already been home for a couple of days before they discovered the lice, Mei knew his friends who’d come over to their home had been exposed. “I didn’t know if those parents were going to check [their kids’ hair] just because my son has it, so I thought let’s invite the kids over, we’ll have a swim, we’ll order pizza and we’ll check for lice,” says Mei.

Mei says the seven boys she invited were all very supportive and made light of the situation. “It wasn’t like when they do lice checks in school when they’re all trying to guess who’s the person in class with lice,” says Mei.

Enter Gina Zacher of Toronto Head Lice Removal, the lice checker at Mei’s poolside lice party. Zacher began advertising lice parties as part of her services this year, charging $80 for the first hour and $50 for every additional hour. She says lice parties are not only a great way for parents to share the cost of hiring a lice checker, but the gatherings can create a more comfortable atmosphere where kids can feel less embarrassed about being checked and treated for lice.

Karin Kutasewich, owner of the Toronto franchise of The Lice Squad began offering lice parties last year and says in addition to creating a non-judgmental atmosphere, the parties provide an educational opportunity for parents.

“We can show them right then and there what it looks like and give them hands-on training,” she says. The lice checker arrives to the party armed with products which parents can purchase for home care, information pamphlets and stickers and colouring pages for kids.

This year Kutasewich hosted her largest party yet; checking 30 heads while mothers lounged in the backyard catching up over wine and cheese. She’s glad to see parents are talking more openly about lice and aren’t so worried about everyone knowing if their child has it. “There’s a stigma attached to lice, unfortunately,” she says.

Although the most popular time of year for lice party bookings is the end of summer when kids return from camp, Kutasewich says September brings a new wave of infestations as kids who don’t realize they were exposed to lice over the summer return to the classroom and in turn expose their schoolmates

“Lice is spread by head-to-head contact,” says Kutasewich. All those welcoming hugs and Instagram selfies with friends bumping their heads together are opportunities for lice to spread. Although most schools do lice checks throughout the year, Zacher says many don’t occur until later in the fall and by then the bugs have had ample opportunity to spread. “[Lice checks] should happen before the kids even enter school in my opinion,” she says.

Marie Amato is the Toronto District School Board’s pediculosis program adviser and says lice checks are up to the discretion of each school. While some opt for a full screening, others treat each case as it arises. “When a child is discovered to have lice, we’ll check the class, we’ll check their siblings and if the sibling has it, we’ll check the sibling’s class,” says Amato. But because Amato is one of only three lice checkers with the board, she says some TDSB schools won’t see a lice checker until later in the fall, if at all.

While Amato sees nothing wrong with lice parties, she points out the cost may be out of reach for some families. She says the professional services aren’t necessary if parents follow Toronto Public Health recommendations and check children’s hair for lice on a regular basis.

What do lice look like?

Lice are 1-2 mm long wingless insects that move quickly throughout the hair and are often difficult to see. Louse eggs (also called nits) are a brown-gold teardrop shape that’s superglued onto the hair shaft. While usually located close to the scalp, they could also be further down the hair. Once the louse hatches, the empty casing, which appears transparent, will stay attached to the hair until the hair falls out.

How do I treat lice?

Lice shampoos can be purchased at any drugstore, but are not always effective. “Lice are becoming very resistant to pesticides,” says Zacher. She says olive oil or mayonnaise can also be used to kill the bugs, although Toronto Public Health advises the effectiveness of these treatments has not been scientifically documented.

If you are using one of these natural treatment options, the lice checkers recommend covering the person’s head with a shower cap for three to four hours after smothering it with the oil.

While the shampoos or oils may kill the bugs, no treatment kills the nits. After using a lice comb with small metal teeth — Zacher recommends the Licemeister and Nit Free Terminator combs — pick out any remaining nits by hand. Follow up with a second treatment a week to 10 days later to kill any newly hatched lice before they mature.

How can I remove lice from my home?

Lice can survive away from the head for 24 to 48 hours. Zacher recommends washing clothes, bedsheets and towels your child has used in the last 48 hours and putting them through the dryer. “The high heat from the dryer is what kills them,” she says. She also suggests vacuuming the backs of sofas and car seats.



Happy New Year everyone!

Recently I was contacted by Jane Gerster of The National Post, who were looking to do a feature article on head lice! 

I was very happy to have Jane visit for a detailed demonstration of what we do, as well as a Q&A on some of the basic "ins-and-outs" of  our approach and experience at Toronto Head Lice Removal.

You can see the article, linked directly here, or read the Q&A text below.

We wish all our clients - old and new - a happy and healthy year in 2012!!

- Gina


From: The National Post - Dec. 28th, 2011 

Eight years ago Gina Zacher’s daughter came home, her head crawling with lice. Today, the Toronto mother of three runs Toronto Head Lice removal, an east-end company that charges about $50 an hour to get rid of lice. In an interview with the Post’s Jane Gerster, Ms. Zacher talked about the bug epidemic, the worst cases she has seen, how to manage it naturally and how we’re starting to see older victims of the infestation

Q  How did you get into the business?

 My daughter continued getting lice letters and I kept on throwing them out, thinking, “We’ll never get lice.” She was in Grade 3 at the time and … I didn’t notice anything and then the next day she’s scratching while we were doing homework and she said she’d been scratching and itching for three weeks. She’s a drama queen, but I look and I’d never seen anything like it.
She was so infested with bugs and I freaked out, ran to Shoppers, bought pesticide and put it in her hair and followed the directions and nothing was dead. I called Toronto Health, crying and freaking out. My girlfriend had dealt with it so I had her come over … and she said my boys needed to be checked. Both my boys had it and she looked in my hair and I had it. We were all infested except for my husband.

Q  After dealing with the lice, what made you think, “I want to do this again and again?”
 My daughter proceeded to get it at school again a few other times that year so I met with the school nurse because I was so frustrated. It kept on coming back into my house … and what was really happening was she was getting re-infested from other kids. I asked about school-wide lice checks and [the nurse] said she couldn’t do it … so I asked her if she wouldn’t mind training some parents and if I could start a lice committee at the school, which I did.

Q  How many people do you see roughly each week?
A  I started my business a year ago in September and by July I hired somebody; by September I hired somebody else and by October I was training another person to keep up with the demand because I didn’t want to turn away families. And I can’t do six families in a day.

Michelle Siu for National Post

Ms. Zacher washes a lice brush

Q  You mentioned that pesticides didn’t work for you. If they’re not working, what do we use?
 Pesticides are not working at all. I’ve done a lot of research and I’ve used my own concoction of olive oil and tea tree oil and peppermint oil and coconut oil. I’ve mixed my own all-natural remedy that will drown the bugs.

Q  How long does the whole process take?
 I can do a family of five in three hours. It depends. We just started sending out two people to each family…. If I send out two people, it’ll go by faster and it’s most cost-effective as well. I just started implementing that … just because of the demand. Some kids are really little and they can’t sit for hours at a time. It depends how bad the case is how long we’re there. If it’s not too bad, we can probably do it in an hour, hour and a half.

Q  What are your busiest and slowest seasons?
A  Last year around this time, December through January was slow and then it was pretty steady. August I did not stop working and September I worked 12-hour days and I had people going out to clients as well, so we were all working.

Q  Why do you think people are turning to professional help?
 Because nits are really hard to find in hair and a lot of people don’t know what they’re looking for. It could look like dandruff, so they think that they have it. They will try and comb it … but not necessarily get the baby lice out. I’ve been doing it so long I know what I’m looking for. A lot of the time I often get people calling because their kids won’t sit for their mom.

Q  Do you have any lice horror stories?
 When I started my business, I was at a family’s house for eight hours, four one night and four the day after for two girls. I had never experienced as many eggs on each strand of hair as I did in these two girls’ hair. All I was doing was combing and … they had been dealing with it for four months.
A lot of people still feel that there’s a stigma attached to it, and I think nowadays you’re not normal unless you’ve experienced it in your family. It’s so common, but there is still a stigma attached to it so people don’t look into calling for outside help and … it ends up getting worse.

Q  Have you had any lighter, more humorous bug moments?
A We try to keep it light. Everyone that’s calling is panicking so we try to be sensitive and caring. I know what it’s like.
I’ve had doctors misdiagnose many times, and I’ve had clients saying they’re riddled with lice and there was nothing. All they had was dandruff. In one case, at a walk-in clinic, a doctor jumped back from my client because he thought she was riddled with lice and I was shocked…. She had dandruff, she didn’t even have lice.

Q Do you have any special tips or tricks for avoiding lice?
A  No hugging (laughs). Once you have it, you’re kind of diligent for a little while and then you go back to living life and and it’s Russian roulette as far as I’m concerned when your kids go to school or camp or whatever. It happens in every neighbourhood, every school.

Q  People often think of lice as something young kids get. Are you seeing any older cases?
A  I’m seeing it commonly now in middle schools, high schools…. There aren’t lice checks in high schools and kids are embarrassed to let their friends know at that age. There aren’t really policies in high school because kids don’t want everybody to know, so parents aren’t calling in to let the school know there’s been lice found…. So there are probably more cases out there than we’re aware of. I’ve had university students call for help this year. Apparently lice don’t like testosterone. Not to say that men don’t get it, some men do, but I find in most cases men don’t tend to get it.

Q  Is the lice epidemic getting worse?
A  Yes, they’re getting worse. Why? Because as a society we wash our hair too much. It’s clean; they don’t like dirty hair. We’re told to wash our hair every day…. Once every week or once every two weeks is enough to let your natural oils grow back in. That’s not too say you won’t get it, but the majority of girls have long hair now and really long hair and really clean hair. You can get it at the movie theatres, on public transit, and if people’s hair is long and they’re hugging or even shoulder-to-shoulder [lice] can walk over.

Q  How has the lice situation changed from when you were a kid?
 I don’t remember as a child ever having lice checks and I run into a lot of adults that are saying the same thing. I always say to clients that everybody is very happy to see me and everybody is happy to see the tail end of me. You’re happy to see it gone.

This interview has been edited and condensed.
National Post


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