AHHH, Lice!

Two of the smartest women I know – one a Harvard-educated pediatrician, the other a Yale-educated Manhattan realtor – told me last year they were starting their own business.

 

They have seven kids and two jobs between them. So I thought they were crazy.

 

I KNEW they were crazy when they explained the business concept: Lice Treatment. Lice?

 

Then they explained the concept: safe, gentle, all natural ingredients. (No more chemicals strong enough to burn off your earlobes!) And service: they were going to hire, train and deploy lice “technicians” who would get every nit out of your kids’ heads, your head, and your house. Which, as you know if you’ve ever done it yourself, means you have to take a MINIMUM of a half a day off from work to accomplish.

 

Then I got it. Their business concept was BRILLIANT. Because lice is a working mom’s – any mom’s – mortal enemy.

 

My first experience with head lice came two years ago. I still have not fully recovered. Our family summer vacation was eight days at Disney World. On the flight down I noticed what looked like a small flying ant on my daughter’s hair but thought nothing of it.

 

Then as the highlight of our Disney experience, I treated her to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique salon, where she would get a makeover as one of the Disney princesses. Twenty minutes into the extravaganza, I was taken into a private cubicle. An exceedingly sympathetic woman asked if I had ever heard of “animal parasites,” a Fancy Nancy way of saying “your child’s head is crawling with lice.”

 

We were immediately asked to leave the premises. (I must add we were asked nicely and without being charged). We headed straight to the largest Walgreen’s we could find to buy South Florida’s entire supply of Quell and Rid and a dozen combs with teeny tiny tines.

 

I spent the rest of our vacation in the hotel bathroom washing and rewashing my and all three children’s hair. It took over an hour per child each time I washed their hair and carefully combed through each strand picking off nits.

 

For the next six weeks, I obsessively checked and rechecked all three heads. I am amazed I wasn’t fired from my job because I could hardly focus on anything but tiny white lice eggs. I derailed several important meetings by interviewing other moms’ about their treatment strategies. It got to the point that my children started scattering like cockroaches when I came at them with the lice combs.

 

Corbinmama
04.08.09

Lice is brutal!!!! My congrats on your line of non-toxic treatment. I recently found a great shampoo with tea-trea oil that is good for fighting and preventing lice. It is wonderful to now have safer ways to kill of the pests without exposing ourselves to harmful chemicals

nabbie
02.02.09

Here's one for ya...
My step-son got the "bugs" from his perschool about 5 years ago. After my DH scrubbed him and made him "Lice-free", they went to Wendy's for lunch. Needless to say, the lady asked him why he wasn't in school. He replies "I didn't goto school today because I have bugs in my head!" My husband said he could have crawled under the counter and died. I thought that was hilarious!

roseherring
01.29.09

The most humiliating experience of my life so far was getting pulled out of the head-check line-up on the first day of summercamp because I was the kid that showed up with lice. They called my mortified parents, schrubbed my head with chemicals, put me in a cabin by myself and I suffered through the two weeks of camp nearly friendless and the next several month (ok years) fearing the return of the cooties. Flash forward 17 years... Two weeks ago I approached the door of my 2 year old daugther's daycare classroom to find the dreaded red sign posted on the door stating that an unidentified child in the toddler village had lice. NOOOOOOO! I have obcessively raked through Evie's head a million times and my husband and I have checked eachother's itchy heads daily since. So far, no bugs but the thought of moving my family to a deserted, lice-free island until my girls are in college is pretty tempting. Thank god for business like Liz's - I only wish you were here in Atlanta (just in case)

westchestermom
01.15.09

I had lice in third grade...my whole class caught it and then we had daily insepctions. A lot of the camps around here make us pay a fee to have our kids inspected on the first day by lice experts, but I think it is worth it. We keep stressing that our daughter should not share hats, hair clips, brush, etc - but - kids like to do dress up and it is easy to see how lice can be a major problem. I think this business idea is gross, but really smart. I know my mom friends and neighbors that use a similar service in the NY burbs and they are willing to pay anything!

leslie morgan s...
01.15.09

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Seems that lice usually spreads through camp or school. i agree it is almost impossible (and not desirable) to get our kids to stop playing in close proximity! but i do live in fear of my kids getting "animal parasites" again!

leslie morgan s...
01.14.09

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Although my head and top of my neck are itching insanely, neither Tallie nor Morgan has gotten lice yet. So I'm hoping we escaped this time...

lizlice
01.14.09

Thank you, Leslie, for including The Lice Treatment Center on Mommytrack'd. As one of the "two smartest women you know," (and believe me, I'm starting to question who it is, exactly, that you know), I can only say that your Wharton professor could not fathom how truly unglamorous running a business for the treatment and removal of head lice can be. Forget nine to five: I am literally "on call" all of the time. As each of my five children, my husband and my dog, Buck can attest, I am always available to "solve your lice problem" (just don't ask me to help with your math problem). But the reason I started this business (and truly did recruit the smartest woman I know, Dr. Elin Cohen, asking her to formulate a line of non-toxic lice treatment and prevention products), is that my daughter came home from camp with a case of lice the likes of which I've never seen in my over two years in the business, and there were no good non-toxic products on the market. So I don't like to turn down a frantic parent, which means that I don't turn down my phone.

I've done it all: I've combed out, I've been combed as a guinnea pig for training (one time I held one such training session in my mother's house without telling her and she came home early from vacation--talk about grounded for life!), rinsing out in sinks up and down the Eastern Seaboard. I've gotten up at the crack of dawn to give a seminar an hour from my home and nobody showed up. Production of our all natural products began in a basement. Literally. I've affixed enough labels on bottles so that Grissom couldn't id me on CSI because I'm sure I have no fingerprints.

I'm glad I do what I do, but there are days that pig farming and port-a-potties look good.
Liz Solovay, Lice Treatment Center

Jelkeshen
01.13.09

Ok that article made me feel so much better. We have recently dealt with the same thing and I too approached it with the same obsessiveness as you!
I cannot imagine dealing with it on vacation..you one upped me there!