Lice vs Super Lice: What You Need To Know

Lice vs Super Lice: What You Need To Know

There is a new bug in town – a potentially drug resistant mutant species of head lice now showing up on the heads of kids in 25 states, and counting, across the U.S.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 6 to 12 million infestations occur in children ages 3 to 11 in the U.S. each year.  But now they are becoming a much bigger problem. Dr. Mia Finkelston, a doctor on Amwell, sorts it all out for you and offers some advice about what you should if someone in your family gets lice.

What are super lice?
Similar to how bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics, some lice have become increasingly resistant to over the counter shampoos.  Super lice are just that - strains of lice that have developed resistance to some over the counter medications.  Unfortunately, the majority of lice out right now are super lice and it’s not going away.

Where are super lice a problem?
A national study found the treatment-resistant lice in 25 states in the U.S. The full list: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.

Are super lice more dangerous?
There is no medical danger to lice or super lice, and there is nothing harmful that can happen to your child, besides the ick factor and a little scratching.  It’s more of a nuisance than anything.

How do super lice spread?
Much like regular lice, super lice spread through direct contact with hair or head gear with infected people. Make sure your child doesn’t share combs, brushes, hats, scarves or hair clips with friends at school. They move by crawling and cannot hop or fly. Children should be checked for lice if there is an outbreak in their school – even if they aren’t complaining of itching.

What should I do if my child brings homes lice?
Treating lice is a tricky job. Make sure to check all family members, just in case and treat those with active infestations with over the counter products and be sure to follow directions on the label. Use a lice comb to remove lice and their nits after each treatment and between treatments, if necessary. You also want to wash clothes and bedding in hot water and dry them in a hot dryer or seal them in extra bags for two weeks. If you are still finding lice or their eggs after 72 hours, you could be dealing with super lice.  

If you think you or someone in your family might have lice or super lice, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor to talk about treatment options before heading straight to the pharmacy.

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