How to protect your family from the new 'super lice' outbreak

Posted 9:01 a.m. Monday

There is now a treatment for the resistant mutant 'super lice' that have spread to almost every state across the U.S. (Deseret Photo)

There is now a treatment for the resistant, mutant "super lice" that have spread to almost every state across the U.S. Cases of lice have been found in 42 of the 48 states that have been tested so far, and the bugs are continuously spreading to more children and families at a rapid rate.

With the new school season now moving forward, a new spread of the dreaded insect has now entered into a massive amount of homes. The problem now is that lice have evolved from being simple, annoying bugs to mutant pests.

"If you look hard enough, you can probably find lice on someone's head in almost every school in the world on any given day," said Dr. Barbara Frankowski, a doctor of pediatrics at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

That can be a frightening thought, especially when considering that NBC recently reportered that the lice have mutated with the ability to resist numerous over-the-counter treatments that have been used to combat them for years.

During an interview with NBC, Sup Yoon, Ph.D. who has worked alongside this epidemic, said: “If you use a chemical over and over, these little creatures will eventually develop resistance. So, we have to think before we use a treatment. The good news is head lice don’t carry other diseases. They’re more a nuisance than anything else.”

Here’s how you can protect your family from the pesky bugs

First, make sure you are checking the hair of every person who resides in your home once a week and give special attention to your children's hair. Lice prefer to nest in children's hair over adult hair because young hair is thin and makes it easy for them to stay stabilized on the scalp.

To check for lice, take a regular comb and search the scalp for any small black bugs that might be hiding between strands. If you see what looks like moving, black dots then chances are your child or family member may be infested with the miniscule pests.

If you or any of your family members have long hair, try braided hair styles or pulling the hair back in a pony tail or bun. And tame those extra fly-aways with hair spray. You can also coat your hair by spritzing it with tea-tree oil, but do so in minimal amounts because it can dry your scalp. Also, warn your children about sharing clothing items with friends during this time, especially hats or helmets.

Be sure each family member is regularly washing their hair. Although lice may seem dirty, they choose to live in clean environments. The cleaner the head, the easier it is to attract lice. This fact might make you feel like there is no winning against these tiny foes, but some people suggest that rubbing some olive oil onto the scalp after washing your hair helps prevent lice from making a home on your head.

Here’s the treatment

Dr. Robin Gehris, the chief of pediatric dermatology at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburg, suggests treating the lice with over the counter medicine will help if your family is infected. “Treat the entire head and leave it on for a few hours and then repeat a week later,” she said in an interview with NBC. “If you still see things moving after the second treatment it’s time to call the doctor.”

Parents need to be aware of the lice outbreak and if home remedies or over-the- counter treatments don't work, getting a prescription from a doctor will most likely take care of the bugs for good.


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