Taking the yuck out of lice removal

Pam Skinner recently started prefacing her answers to questions about what she does.

"I always start out with some disclaimer like, 'Well, it's kind of wacky... '" she said.

Skinner, 54, and her husband Bruce, 64, recently got into the lice business. Removing lice, that is.

The Huntington Beach residents opened up Bernadette's at the Beach, a professional lice-removal salon, last month.

The salon, a franchise of an Ohio-based lice-removal company, offers free lice checks and an $85 lice treatment using an organic, non-toxic product that will enable kids to go back to school after the one-hour treatment. It also offers several in-home services.

One Huntington Beach mom took her daughter to the salon after an at-home kit was unsuccessful. She said it was a nightmare when her daughter came home with lice, but having a professional she could go to made it better.

"We had a great experience. [Pam Skinner] was very patient," the mom said, adding her daughter didn't want to leave. "My daughter loved it."

The Skinners said they realized talking about lice gives others the "yuck factor" and makes still others feel mortified or ashamed, but they want to change that.

"Anybody can get it," Pam said. "I'm dying to speak to PTAs, and if they can get that point out — that cleanliness and personal hygiene have nothing to do with it, and if they didn't think it reflected on them personally, that their home was dirty or their kids are dirty — it would change everything."

Pam is trying to get the word out by passing out brochures to Huntington Beach schools and plans on doing the same to Newport-Mesa schools.

The two are also trying to take the stress out of the experience in the salon. Music plays, moms can sit sipping coffee while dads watch TV and kids can munch on snacks and play Angry Birds on a tablet while they get de-bugged.

"What I love is just creating this positive vibe, so it's taking away this scary, negative I-have-bugs-on-my-head [feeling]," she said. "I just try to make it light and fun."

It was Pam who got the idea for the lice salon after reading an ad on Craigslist for a lice technician. She thought the job was interesting and soon found another mom who had her own in-home lice-removal business and not only loved it, but found it rewarding, Pam said.

"I thought, 'Wow, in almost an hour you can solve somebody's worst nightmare,'" she said.

The Skinners, who have been married 20 years, have wanted to start a business for a while, and they hope to grow the business to several locations, Bruce said.

"We'll be the McDonald's of the lice world," he laughed.


Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

If You Go

What: Bernadette's at the Beach, a professional lice-removal salon

When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon Saturday

Where: 714 Adams Ave., Suite 103, Huntington Beach

Cost: $85 for a lice removal treatment plus two follow-up treatments a week apart.

Information: Call (714) 960-8080 for an appointment. Go online to http://www.bernadettesatthebeach.com for a full list of services.

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