FARGO - Amanda Bruns doesn’t mind being called a nit picker. It’s her job.
The Fargo mother of five is the founder of The Nitty Nurse, a local in-home lice removal service.
Bruns, who also works as a registered nurse for the Fargo VA Medical Center, got the idea after her own kids contracted head lice while on a trip to Minneapolis a year ago.
She took them to a salon that specialized in lice removal, and that’s where “the lightbulb went off.”
“I thought, ‘I want to do that. I could do that,’ ” Bruns said.
She did some research and found there weren’t any businesses in Fargo certified in the Shepherd Institute’s strand-by-strand nit removal method she saw in Minneapolis.
She attended training in Nashville, Tenn., and launched her business in July. Things really took off once school started.
“It seems like the fall is busy because kids go back to school after attending summer camps and sleepovers,” Bruns said. “That, and school nurses and teachers are often more aware of how to detect lice.”
The Fargo and West Fargo School Districts have “no nit” policies. Students cannot be in school if they have lice and may not return until they are nit (egg) free. Moorhead parents are notified if their child has lice and given the option of picking the student up or getting treatment after school.
Bruns begins treatment with an initial comb-out. She then breaks the hair into “paper-thin” sections she goes through with a special comb designed to pull the nits from the hair.
She also uses a special shampoo that helps dissolve the glue that binds the eggs to the hair and eases with removal.
Bruns recommends everyone in the home get checked, even if they think only one person has lice.
“The saying from Katie Shepherd (founder of the Shepherd Institute) goes, ‘When you find lice is when you look for it,’ ” Bruns said.
A recheck after four to seven days is also advised.
One reason Bruns said it’s wise to leave treatment to a professional is the emergence of strains known as “super lice” that are resistant to common over-the-counter treatments.
“Super lice” have been confirmed in 48 U.S. states, including Minnesota and North Dakota, according to a study published in the March edition of the Journal of Medical Entomology.
“They (over-the-counter kits) are not killing the bugs and they don’t have good combs in them to get out the nits,” Bruns said. “For an untrained person, it’s hard to see the nits and ensure that you’ve got them all.”
Treatment and prevention
Bruns is not only concerned with treatment. She also feels a responsibility to educate people about detection and prevention.
Lice do not have the ability to fly, hop or jump. Bruns said they are generally only spread through head-to-head contact.
“Just remind your kids not to have that close head-to-head contact, especially girls because they’re more touchy-feely and have longer hair,” she said.
Bruns also sells a Nit Free Mint Spray that has been shown to repel lice.
To book an appointment or to find out more about lice treatment and prevention, call (701) 353-5292 or visit www.thenittynurse.com.
What: The Nitty Nurse
Contact: (701) 353-5292