Reporting Frank Vascellaro
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – If you have kids in school, you’ve probably seen the note from school, the one that warns you to check your kids for head lice.
For parents who don’t want to check their kids’ heads, much less pick nits, there’s help—for a price.
A handful of businesses are popping up in the Twin Cities that promise to remove the insects and their eggs. The businesses have clever names — Lice Finders, Minnesota Lice Lady, Ladi Bugs and Melissa’s Nitpickers.
“Within a week of having the website up, I have been booked solid ever since,” said Melissa Loch, the owner of Melissa’s Nitpickers. She started her business last summer after two of her daughters had head lice.
Even thought Loch is a professional nitpicker, she can’t stand the sight of lice in her house.
“If I’m looking through my daughter’s hair, even just brushing, and I see a little spot, I get that pit in my stomach, right away, like oh my gosh, please no!” Loch said.
She cringes because she knows how much work it is to get rid of lice.
“Whatever treatment you do, you still need to go through and pull out those nits, by hand. Bottom line,” she said.
Loch visited her neighbor’s house Friday afternoon. Ellie, an 8-year-old, spotted lice on her head this morning, but tried keeping the news from her Mom.
“I didn’t want my Mom to know I had lice, because then I wouldn’t be able to go to pajama day,” she said.
Ellie’s sister told her Mom about the lice, because she didn’t want Ellie’s friends to get them.
Ellie’s Mom ended up treating the lice and picking the nits herself.
Ellie still made it to school for pajama day, although she was a little late.
Loch checked Ellie’s hair by clipping it into sections. Then, she started combing, looking for lice and their eggs on every single strand. She found several eggs—nits—and pulled them off the girl’s hair.
“It’s a game to me,” Loch said. “I want to find every single one of them.”
It’s a process that can take hours depending on how many lice and how much hair a person has. Loch charges $100 for the first hour of nitpicking, $75 for the second and $50 per hour after that.
Head checks cost less–$35 for one person, $15 for other family members.
Loch works hard to make sure her own kids don’t bring home lice. As soon as her kids get home from school, she throws their hats, mitts and backpacks in the dryer for 40 minutes.
She also uses products containing tea tree oil. She says lice don’t like the scent. However, she says that won’t help if your child already has lice.
If that’s the case, painstaking nit removal is in order.
“Go through strand by strand, pick out those nits,” Loch said. “You can’t just do it one time, you have to do it every day for a good seven days to make sure you’re not missing anything.”