Lice is nasty, I know. But now that we’ve had the second brush with it from someone we know, and our kids were around the other affected kids last week, we’re going through our own precautionary measures ourselves to make sure it doesn’t pop up here – and it’s expensive! A few months back, a friend and neighbor up the road described a story of how she was in the hair salon with her daughters and the stylist pulled her aside, escorted them all out of the salon and told her that her daughters had lice. She was absolutely mortified. She said she sat on the sidewalk crying, as she couldn’t believe what just happened. They are typical middle-class (and clean) people and she suspects they got it from a movie theater with the girls’ resting their heads on the seats for a few hours straight. It was the only place she could think of since nobody had it at school recently. Next, someone else we know just informed us that the mom and daughters have it as well, and our kids were at their house last week, so we have to take precautions to ensure that if one made it onto our kids’ hair, they wouldn’t propagate at all. So far, it’s been a few days of treatments and checking and everyone’s clean. But I’ll tell you, my wife’s been pretty crazy about cleaning, treating and researching, as you can imagine. So far, so good, but of course, this makes for an informative personal finance post! Kinda like my oddball financial musings of my vasectomy, how much people make garbage picking around my house, whether your wife’s keratin treatment is worth it and other offbeat financial topics (subscribe here for more quirky financial analyses).
Costs of Lice Treatments
Aside from the social stigma and stress associated with lice, it can be quite expensive to treat it and prevent spreading/recurrence. Depending on how much you try to do yourself versus employing additional help, the costs can really add up. Here’s what we learned about different costs:
- Chem treatment twice – The Nix treatment my wife bought for the kids was $20+ bucks per treatment and it’s recommended you do it twice. So, for a family with several kids and a mom, it can easily run $100.
- Lice comb is a few bucks. That’s a one-time purchase that you run through hair with very fine metal bristles and look for any eggs or lice
- $250/head lice removal service – We didn’t do this since nobody actually has it. But on the most recent family we know that got it went to some place that specializes in “nit-picking”. It’s basically a bunch of women in a facility that spend a few hours picking through hair getting each one out. The prior family we knew took care of it themselves, but I guess it might have a higher chance of success and more quickly rid the family of these critters with the paid service.
- Animal treatment – This seems a little scammy to me, since lice don’t attack animals (thankfully, because that would be a hell of a job getting lice off our 85 pound hairy lab). But nevertheless, once our recent family told the local friends and school about it as a warning, the one family in town went to a special animal lice treatment place and paid for their services. I’m not sure what that cost.
- Throwing out brushes, other items – For items that had contact with your hair, often times it’s best to just throw them out. So brushes and other items need to be replaced – $20 or more.
- Washing/drying everything – With the amount of additional washer and dryer runs of bedding, blankets, pillow cases, clothes and more, it’s easily another $20 or more in added water, detergent and electricity.
- Your Time – Time is money, especially when you’re trying to use some of your precious free time to either enjoy life or work on your side income. Instead of doing that, you’re relentlessly changing out sheets, pillow cases, bagging up stuffed animals, picking through hair looking for more nits, vacuuming and many other cleaning activities that you wouldn’t have to be doing otherwise.
A Few Closing Thoughts:
I used to think lice was something that only children of lousy or dirty parents got. I’m now acutely aware that’s not the case. Both families we know are typical suburban upper-middle class families and the moms are very attentive (both dads have no/short hair so they didn’t really have the same risk at all, nor do they do the girls’ hair daily like the moms do). It just happened to be a case of wrong place, wrong time and girls are very susceptible to it due to longer hair. Over the years, we’d had the occasional warning come home from school that a kid had it and all families should keep an eye out and we used to roll our eyes, like “who had it this time?”, but now that we know how easy it is to contract and how diligent and “just like us” the families affected are, we don’t judge. We learned a bit, and are not judgmental now; and we hope if it ever landed here, others would feel the same. We also hope we don’t have any signs of lice here in the next week or it’s going to get quite a bit more expensive and stressful here! I do think given my wife’s rapid and thorough reaction though, even if a couple critters ended up on one of our kids last week, they’re probably long gone by now!
Do You Have Any Experience with Lice?
Thoughts on the Costs and How Society Views Lice?