Lice. If you’ve ever had to deal with the little critters, the mere mention of them is enough to make you run for the hills. Unfortunately for parents, lice are just as likely to come home from summer camp as they are from school, which is why — at the tail end of one season and on the cusp of another — we thought it was time to review the NYC options for de-bugging. From at-home solutions to the big guns of services and salons, here’s how and where to de-louse.
photo: via Liceneders Facebook page
Not Too Cool for School
Lice are a big problem in NYC schools, no matter the type: public, private, charter, parochial. It’s why so many schools do regular checks during the year, especially after summer camp season, and winter and spring breaks, when families have been traveling.
Since 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that the presence of nits in the hair is not a valid reason to keep a child out of school, and the Center for Disease Control followed suit. However, many NYC schools still insist on a “no nits” policy, which means that even if no live lice are discovered in your child’s hair, they cannot return to the classroom until every egg has been removed. (It’s wise to check in and see what your school’s policy is.)
Though by now most parents know that lice are not the result of bad hygiene — the critters prefer, in fact, clean hair — or exclusive to any particular socio-economic class or ethnic group, many still don’t know exactly how to treat this unfortunately all too common infestation.
photo: via Hair Faries Inc. Facebook page
Delightful De-licing: The Options
Getting rid of lice can be as “easy” as a trip to the local pharmacy, and most over the counter products will work on most heads. Yes, there are some particularly stubborn cases, but there is no reason to automatically assume yours is one of them. Lice shampoos that you buy at the drugstore — we’ve had success with NIX, for example — work the majority of the time, and usually require a single application, followed by a second dose around a week later. (There’s no way around repeatedly combing through your child’s hair and checking for nits and lice, however, or washing clothes and brushes at high temps. Here’s the full CDC recommendation rundown.)
Both the AAP and the CDC endorse the use of over-the-counter treatments, but these products are often full toxic chemicals (they are, after all, designed to kill lice) and some parents may prefer trying a more natural product. To meet the demand, a number of companies have launched their own, non-toxic lines of shampoos and treatments.
Kitchen Cabinet Method
If you’re interested in going super low-tech (and low price), try remedies using kitchen staples you probably already have in the house. Drench your child’s hair in olive oil, then wrap it in a plastic bag or shower cap for several hours. This will smother the living lice. You can also rinse your child’s hair with a vinegar and water solution. The acid will kill the nits, and unstick them from the hair shafts, making it easier to comb the corpses out later.
A LicEnders Salon photo: via LicEnders Facebook page
Leaving it To the Professionals
There are, of course, people who will come to your home to take care of the problem within hours. LicEnders promises all sorts of high-tech treatments, while Lice Free Noggins boasts a 100% guarantee, as do The Lice Doctors. Nit Picky claims to have the lowest in-home prices in the city, period.
If the salon experience is more your style, try the Hair Fairies in Midtown Manhattan, Hair Angel NY on Staten Island, Lice Busters in Brooklyn, NY Lice Out in Queens, or even DeLiceFul on Long Island.
The procedure of painstakingly going through your child’s hair, skinny strand by skinny strand with a fine-toothed comb to remove both the living lice and their eggs, can take several hours, and cost you several hundred dollars, at least. Some places charge for the time spent and the number of technicians working, while others just bill a flat rate. In-home service will cost more than a salon visit, especially if you ask for add-ons like screening other family members, sterilizing your entire home, and follow up re-checks.
(It’s not uncommon for schools to invite representatives from lice-removal services to come and do a complimentary exam on all the students. Then, if your child is discovered to have lice, the examiners will of course tell you that their service is the only truly effective way to get rid of the pests.)
photo: Cozy’s Cuts for Kids
An Ounce of Prevention
The idea of a product that can fend off a lice infestation before one can even start is pretty appealing to any parent that’s dealt with the scourge. NYC mainstay Cozy’s Cuts for Kids, has just launched a new line, Boo!, featuring an all-natural shampoo and spray it claims is clinically proven to keep lice away. (They’re not the only ones who offer such products.)
What did you do when lice visited your house? Share in the comments below!
— Alina Adams