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'Ladibugs' hopes to ward off lice in Woodbury

Rachel Knutson, left, and Lisa Rudquist demonstrate how they use the "Lousebuster" to kill all stages of head lice. Staff photo by Riham Feshir

A month after Lisa Rudquist and Rachel Knutson's daughters got lice in first grade, the duo started the company "Ladibugs."

Though they fixed their own problem with traditional home remedies, they didn't want to ever experience it again.

And they wanted to help other parents get rid of the little, easily transferable and spreadable bug that causes frustration and anxiety at home and in school.

Rudquist and Knutson, both registered nurses, started the business Ladibugs on their own in May 2010. A year later, they opened up shop in St. Louis Park and added a few more service providers.

And before the start of this school year, they opened a Woodbury location on Weir Drive, where they've already taken appointments and have set up times to do educational seminars.

"We have so many people driving to St. Louis Park from Woodbury, Stillwater, Rochester ... that it really made sense for us to open in Woodbury," Rudquist said. "We've had people from as far away as Kansas City. People have flown to us from New York."

Ladibugs has a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week hotline that parents can call with questions and concerns. But all onsite treatments are done by appointment only.

"Confidentiality is key," Knutson.

What sets the business apart, the duo said, is the FDA-approved machine that they use to get rid of lice before applying hair products.

The "Lousebuster" device uses controlled heated air to provide an effective way to kill all stages of lice including the eggs.

The machine has an applicator tip with teeth that lift the hair up and blow hot air three times as fast as a blow dryer, Rudquist said.

Ladibugs use the Lousebuster to remove all signs of lice at their business that has no carpeting or upholstered furniture to make sure nothing gets spread.

"So truly when they leave the office, they are lice free," Knutson said.

The Lousebuster takes about 30 minutes to make sure all lice are dead. The process then follows with another 30 minutes of combing out the hair.

"It's a very short amount of time compared to what moms do with their entire family," Knutson said.

Ladibugs then follow with 30 minutes of treatment using hair products that they made from natural ingredients. Their nursing background and connections with the pharmaceutical industry helped get it started and sold nationwide and in Canada.

"No parent wants to have that continued problem," Knutson said.

With the start of the school year approaching, it's a lot easier to get lice from child to child in close settings, she added.

According to Ladibugs, once a child gets head lice, there is an 85 percent chance their siblings will get it, a 60 percent chance for the mother and a 10 percent chance the father will catch it.

"It's truly a family problem, it's not just limited to children," Rudquist said, adding that it's not a hygienic issue at all.

"It's still holds a negative stigma," Knutson said.

Ladibugs plan to educate local schools and day cares to make sure they're aware of prevention methods they can use to avoid the spread of head lice.

It only takes 30 seconds for the lice to go from head to head, Knutson said, adding that the rate it spreads is second only to the common cold.

"Most people have had to deal with it in one way, shape or form," she said.

Ladibugs have treated 6,000 people in the last two years they've been in business.

They said people have called numerous times because they're afraid that what's in their child's head is lice when sometimes it can be sand or scabs from over combing.

"Sometimes people have combed their hair so much that their little scalp is actually beaten," Knutson said.

However, they still advise every parent to do head checks on a regular basis and use the prevention products to avoid the problem or catch it early.

The two suburban moms who dealt with head lice themselves said they knew there had to be an alternative way to getting rid of lice once and for all.

"People don't ever think they're going to get head lice," Knutson said. "You never discover lice at a good time."

Ladibugs is located at 1123 Weir Drive, suite 200.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.