How to Get Rid of Super Lice Super-Fast
If your child is sent home from school with suspected lice, the last thing you want to hear is that those lice are resistant to treatment.
Unfortunately, this has become an increasing reality across the United States. A new breed of “super lice” is here and it doesn’t care how many times you try to attack it with traditional treatments.
Super lice are active in at least 48 states, most commonly infesting preschool- and elementary-aged children. They’re quite at home in nice clean hair and aren’t interested in leaving any time soon!
This is a problem for any parent of an infested child. You need your child to be at school, while you need to be at work. Who has time to deal with an annoying insect that won’t leave?!
You need a reliable super lice treatment that is safe for your family. So where should you start?
Super lice facts
The only thing “super” about super lice is their ability to resist common over-the-counter lice treatments. In particular, pyrethroids such as permethrin and pyrethrin have been used for many years now, but are found to be ineffective against super lice.
This is not an uncommon occurrence – many types of pests develop resistance to treatment as it is a survival mechanism for their species. Scientists believe that lice developed resistance to pyrethroid treatments because people didn’t use them correctly. The lice were exposed and instead of dying, became stronger and spread to others.
Besides this resistance to treatment, super lice look and act like any other lice. They survive by drinking blood from the human scalp, they lay eggs and they cause itching and discomfort. Lice are also behind a large number of missed school days – 12 to 24 million days per year according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Treatment of super lice
Super lice require diligent treatment. You need to be able to remove both the lice and the eggs from the hair to avoid ongoing infestations. For most parents, a non-toxic option is preferred. Prescription chemical treatments can have nasty side-effects and may not even work. To top that, the chemicals in prescription treatments are much stronger than pyrethroids. This is problematic because the pyrethroid treatments are known neurotoxins, impacting the health of its users.
So where does that leave you in terms of treatment options? Fortunately, there are some lice treatments which are both safe and effective against super lice.
Chemical-free shampoos such as LiceGuard®’s Lice and Egg shampoo work by breaking down the bonds that attach the eggs to the hair. It is then much easier to comb out both the lice and their eggs. This is not a treatment they are resistant to as it is not an insecticide.
This treatment does require some close attention to combing and may take more than one application to ensure that no eggs were missed that later hatched. However, the shampoo has a pleasant scent and it won’t lead to harmful side-effects for your child.
Another clinically-proven treatment for super lice is an electric lice comb. Products such as the RobiComb® work by stunning or killing lice with an electric charge. The comb doesn’t kill the eggs, but these are combed out along with the lice. Without the use of chemicals, the lice have no chance to develop a resistance to the treatment – know anything that evolved to resist being zapped?
While an electric lice comb also involves commitment to thorough combing, it is a non-toxic treatment that avoids shampoo mess. One comb can be cleaned and used for the whole family, making it a cost-effective treatment. You can treat your child the same day an infestation is discovered and have them back at school the following day.
Avoiding a super lice re-infestation
Once you’ve put the time and effort into super lice treatment, it’s important to take steps to avoid re-infestation. Many families experience a frustrating cycle of treatment, followed by recurrence of the pesky insects.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to completely tear your house apart or call in a special cleaning company. Like regular lice, super lice cannot last for very long off the human scalp (around three days), so it’s possible to isolate and eliminate them.
All hats, hairbrushes, pillowcases, bedding and anything else washable that has been in contact with infested heads should be washed or put on a hot dryer cycle to kill the lice. Toys, coats or other delicate items may be able to be dry-cleaned.
For anything that is difficult to clean, you could isolate it for several days. Any lice present will not survive; they need human blood from the scalp.
Besides that, there is not a lot you can do to avoid a lice infestation in the first place. They’re a very common occurrence and love human scalps of all types. Teach kids not to share hats or clothes when a lice infestation is present, but if they do get super lice, don’t panic. Safe, non-toxic treatment is available to send them packing!
- LiceGuard Webmaster