If your child has ever come home with head lice, you know all too well how time-consuming and frustrating getting rid of the creatures can be. Hours of lice removal treatment, loads of laundry, and preventive efforts to protect family members can be overwhelming. To help ease the burden, professional lice removal businesses, called nitpickers, have been popping up around the country. Find out whether you should consider their services the next time you or a loved one is infected. Why Lice Removal Is Difficult Head lice are small parasitic insects that live close to the human scalp and feed on human blood. They spread through direct contact and multiply quickly. Lice lay tiny eggs, or nits, which are firmly attached to the hair shaft and hatch after eight or nine days. Nits don’t wash out with shampooing and are difficult to remove. Although there are many over-the-counter lice removal remedies, studies show that lice have developed resistance to these pesticides. As a result, these common treatment options may no longer kill all live lice or eggs. If male and female louses are left behind to mate, or if viable nits hatch, it’s easy to become reinfested. The Best Treatment Option Many experts believe that manually removing lice and nits from the hair is necessary to rid yourself of the insects. However, this requires carefully combing through each strand of hair to locate the tiny, fast-moving insects or picking their eggs from the hair. The process can be tedious and time-consuming, taking hours to complete. How Professionals Can Help Many parents don’t have the time or patience to manually remove lice and eggs from their child’s hair. Others have treated members of their household many times, only to have their efforts fail. Professional nitpickers are available through special lice removal salons or via house call to do the work for you. Services vary from one business to another, but most nitpickers offer a thorough head evaluation to check if a person has lice. If evidence of lice or nits is found, nitpickers are trained to look for and manually remove these difficult-to-see insects and their eggs. Many also offer natural shampoos and other treatments for follow-up care. In addition to a confident professional removing the lice and nits for you, nitpicker businesses offer other benefits. Many salons keep kids occupied with videos while they’re being treated. They offer a safe alternative to the chemical treatments of over-the-counter pesticides, which are absorbed into the skin. And for many kids, they offer a free pass back to school. Even if all the lice are killed by treatment shampoos, many schools have a “no nit” policy. This means that a child can’t attend school until all nits are manually removed from the head. Weighing the Options Nitpicking services are flourishing around the country because they perform a necessary service that many parents would rather not tackle. But nitpickers aren’t for everyone. Although they can help you become lice-free, the benefits come with a cost. Rates for services vary, but often begin around $75 per person for an initial evaluation. To weigh the costs and benefits, contact a nitpicker near you about fees and services the next time your little one comes home with an itchy head.