Gordon recommends using the Shepherd Method to remove lice and nits. Rodriguez did: after combing Emma's hair, she divided it into four equal sections. She examined each quadrant in paper-thin sections, one strand of hair at a time. Then she did another check for missed bugs or nits before inspecting my hair. (I said a silent prayer of thanks when she told me I didn't have lice.)
"Removing all the nits is the toughest part of lice removal," Aloisio said. "If you don't get every single nit, they are going to hatch and the whole cycle is going to start all over again."
Products kill adult lice, but not eggs or babies. Most of Aloisio's clients go to her after about a month of trying to get rid of lice themselves.
As far as prevention, Aloisio suggests girls wear their hair pulled back in braids or in a bun. "Swinging hair offers a bridge to infestation," she said.
Rodriguez used a stainless steel comb and showed me the correct technique for pulling it through my daughter's hair. I've been doing that every night since.
She also used a nontoxic lice infestation removal mousse and a mint spray Aloisio says deters lice. While preliminary evidence shows lice are repelled by mint in laboratory settings, Gordon said there are no strong field studies supporting mint as an effective repellent.
Two and a half hours and $210 later, we left the salon with the comb, the mousse, the spray and the hope that we had won the battle.
If your child has lice, Gordon advises screening friends, relatives, neighbors and people your child spends time with. She also recommends checking for lice once a week.
Her final advice to parents? "Take a deep breath. It's just lice."