The Price of Lice

by Stephanie Berenbaum – updated July 9, 2014

***A slew of recent lice outbreaks prompted us to revisit last year’s article on the cost of these little critters…

Buggin’ Out?

Given the tepid job market, I am happy to say I have recently encountered a business which gives me confidence that this country is going to be ok: I am speaking, of course, about Professional Lice Removal.

In general, I try not to make impulse purchases.  But when I got a call from my son’s camp that his hair was infested with lice – well, let’s just say all logic (and money) went out the window!

Pricey Lice!

Instead of weighing my options, I immediately called a salon near me we’ll call “Pricey Lice” – yes, a professional lice removal salon.  In that instant I lost all faith in my motherly abilities to de-louse my child and assumed only a professional could do the trick.  At this point I was sure all of our family members, babysitters and close friends had also been infested by associating with our family, and I just wanted them GONE.

So, of course, in my frenzy, did I even stop to ask about price?  No, I didn’t.  I was just thrilled to get an appointment and we rushed right over…

Back In The Day

If I had stopped to think about it, I might have recalled having lice back in the 70s, when my mother took on the role of chief de-louser with Rid shampoo and a fine toothed metal comb…

Fast forward to Pricey Lice, where our whole family  got checked and miraculously only one son had it.  The checkers were as nice as could be, and even my 6 year old was relatively happy, sitting there for several hours playing video games and eating snacks …and no, the snacks were not free.  As they combed product through his hair and checked through it all in tiny sections, I have to say I was relieved to have this resource right around the corner!  That is, until…

Feeling Like A Nit-Wit

I went to pay the bill – and I honestly thought there was an error – it was almost $400.  This included the de-lousing for my son, which took a couple hours, checks for the other 3 of us at $30 a head, and purchase of the deluxe home care product kit they sell, for $80.  Plus a few more bucks for goldfish crackers and Yoo-Hoo.  I did then what I should have done in the first place – looked at the pricing!

They, like many lice removal services,  charge by the hour – this includes evaluating, removal and treatment.  It’s $95 for the first hour (the minimum) and then $23.75 for each 15 minutes thereafter.  Keep in mind only one of my sons needed lice removal – he has long hair for a boy but nowhere near as long as the girls in his class – so I can only imagine how much it cost for them or multiple siblings to get treated!

Due to his level of infestation, we were told to come back for a second treatment a few days later – priced the same way as the first visit (but took less time).  The second check ran us about $100, so, in all we’re talking about a staggering $500 total.  And as far as I could tell, they didn’t offer financing plans – though  they said many customers were able to get partial reimbursement from insurance…

Next Time, D.I.Y.

Now that I am somewhat rational again, I compare my receipt to the lice remover of my childhood – RID – which I am shocked to see sells an entire removal kit for only $20 bucks.  Yes, it would have taken more of my time and energy to de-louse at home but had I taken a moment to actually think about all this – of course I would have done it myself!

I’m not knocking “Pricey Lice” – in fact, I am saluting them for running an ingenious business.  I only wish I had thought of it.  I am living proof that a panicked parent – even a generally frugal one – will pay anything when grossed out by the thought of their little darling’s ringlets infested with unwelcome guests… But next time around – and with a 6 and an 8 year old I am sure there will be a next time – I think I am going to pocket the $480 difference and declare myself chief de-louser of our household!

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5 Responses to “The Price of Lice”

  1. Virginia says:

    I’ve unfortunately had to deal with these tiny little pests a few times, but I’ve never gone to the pros. There is plenty of information on line to beat them. There are two key things to know – You must first get rid of all of the lice, then you can work on getting rid of the nits. Here is the easiest way to get rid of them both:

    1. Suffocate the lice- Cover the head with a thick lotion (Cetaphil does the trick). Blow dry the hair for about 5 minutes, or as long as your kid can handle it. Then wrap the hair with plastic – plastic wrap and bobby pins should work (I usually do it before the kids go to bed).

    2. Eliminate the nits by drying them out – Rinse the hair with a vinegar/water solution (the more vinegar the better…just do a patch test first, because it can irritate the skin). Leave the solution on for us long as your kid can handle it, and then lightly rinse the hair. Once the hair dries (I recommend using a blow dryer, because lice and nits don’t like heat), run a lice comb through every section of the hair. The nits come right off.

  2. Lauren says:

    Having worked in social services for 12 years, I’ve had to de-louse youth more times than I would like and once caught it from a family I was working with. This could be a good side business for me to get into!

  3. says:

    The Price of Lice…

    Instead of weighing my options, I immediately called a salon near me we’ll call “Pricey Lice” – yes, a professional lice removal salon. In that instant I lost all faith in my motherly abilities to de-louse my child and assumed only a professional could…

  4. Liz says:

    And you didn’t even pay them to come to your house and de-lice it. CHA-CHING! If the thought of lice didn’t make me want to barf, I’d shave my head and go into business…

  5. Jessica says:

    At the clinic I work at we tell parents to olive oil, you massage the head, then use the nit comb to get the bugs out. The treatment has to be done several times but their hair is glossy, smells like pasta and it’s cheap.

Any Thoughts?