When the children of Emily Linville and Shelly Klimas came home with head lice, the two Charleston-area mothers were concerned that their only options were treatments that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention refers to as insecticides. After doing some research, they decided to take a hands-on approach to the problem.

Quite literally.

They opened a lice treatment center in Mount Pleasant that removes lice and their eggs through a painstaking strand-by-strand examination process. Lice Beware off Long Point Road opened in 2013, and remains the Lowcountry’s only locally-owned lice clinic.

Desperate parents will turn to a number of options to combat lice, and there are no shortage of treatments, both proven and otherwise. Over-the-counter remedies can be effective, but take time to work, and typically don’t get rid of the eggs lice leave behind. Lice Clinics of America, which has locations in Mount Pleasant and North Charleston, uses heated air to dehydrate lice and their eggs. Less reputable treatments involve coating hair with olive oil or mayonnaise.

Lice Beware uses the Shepherd Method, pioneered by Katie Shepherd of West Palm Beach, Fla., which involves examining all hair strands on a child’s head, manually combing out lice and nits, and conducting a follow-up check. 

“This method is the gold standard for nit removal using a methodical approach that ensures all of the hair is examined for lice and nits,” Klimas says.

Linville and Klimas underwent training and certification in the process, which Shepherd founded after her own two children came home with lice. After three weeks of home treatment, she developed her strand-by-strand method that typically takes about two hours. Lice Beware is one of about 125 Shepherd clinics nationwide, a growing business trying to meet the demands of fraught parents.

“The lice problem is finally out of the closet,” Shepherd told PR Newswire. “It's no longer a ‘dirty little secret’ now that people understand that poor hygiene isn't a factor. Parents want help and are willing to do, and pay, whatever it takes.”