Buzz the doorbell at 227 E. 81st St. to enter a cozy salon with red leather chairs, state-of-the-art equipment and the soothing aroma of peppermint oil.
A white curtain covers the window, while colorful stickers obscure the glass front door.
It’s not a spa discreetly tucked inside, but a Licenders hair salon, where parents of lice-infested kids can pay roughly $250 a child to turn the nitpicking over to a pro.
A generation ago, lice meant a stealthy trip to the pharmacy for a bottle of foul-smelling insecticide and a special comb to remove tiny lice eggs, called nits.
Now, New York families afflicted with lice are outsourcing to Licenders and Hair Fairies salons, or a growing roster of local “lice ladies” who make house calls or work out of their homes.
“There’s a comfort in knowing the pros will do it, versus taking a chance with an over-the-counter shampoo,” said New York City mom Ivy, who asked that her last name not be used.
Business is booming for lice-removal entrepreneurs. With up to 12 million lice infestations plaguing America’s kids every year, the market is huge. And lice — tiny parasites that feed off human blood — never take a vacation; “every month is head lice prevention month!” proclaims headlice.org.