In the battle against lice, in steps the 'Nit Fairy' - New York News

In the battle against lice, in steps the 'Nit Fairy'

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The 'Nit Fairy' at work The 'Nit Fairy' at work
TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Lice are tiny -- smaller than the writing on a penny. But don't let size fool you; these critters cause major panic and disruption.

"When you hear the word 'lice,' you're still like 'Ahhhhh!'" one mom told us.

"I immediately want to protect my kids and put a little bubble over them," another offered.

Lice are bloodsuckers. They feed off the scalp, and their leftover saliva produces that trademark itch.

"It can feel endless at times," school nurse Stacey Chute offered.

Part of Stacey's job is helping parents search and destroy.

"I have seen more incidents in middle school within the past year," she continued.

Pediatricians suggest treatments with permethrin. Other over-the-counter products can work. But more parents are choosing something different.

You might mistake Dana Ferlita's digs for a beauty shop. But Dana calls herself the 'Nit Fairy.'

"All the kids will interact with the Nit Fairy," she explained. "Some of the kids ask: Where are my wings? I tell them they are at the cleaners."

Dana works out of her home, painstakingly removing lice and nits, the tiny teardrop shaped eggs naturally glued to strands of hair.

"That's the biggest key, is to get everything out. If you're not getting everything out, you're going to continue to have a problem," she offered.

She uses no insecticides and no chemicals. Just elbow grease.

"I'm also examining the scalp as I'm going through because the baby bugs will sit right on the scalp," she explained as she worked.

For this pro, the process takes an hour and a half. For untrained parents, it can take days. And even then, the critters can come back.

"At any given day there is a child at your school that has lice -- guaranteed," Dana warned.

True persistence is needed to prevent a re-infestation, and a less-than-desirable start to the school year.

School nurses tell us they mostly see the little critters in elementary school students. But lately, the numbers have been increasing in middle school, a trend Dana suspects is due to selfies.

Dana has treated a lot more high school students in the past couple of years. One group was around homecoming and another group came down from Gainesville -- sorority sisters who passed the bugs from to another by taking selfies.

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