With up to 12 million children in the U.S. becoming infected with head lice each year, products and services that claim to get rid of lice are a big business. In 2015, a study came out that showed that some of the lice in at least 25 of the states of the U.S. are resistant to the most common over-the-counter medications used to treat head lice in kids. These products kill lice due to the permethrin they contain, which is a chemical that comes from chrysanthemums. Should your child be infected with these new super lice, it may be more difficult to get rid of them.
While some lice are resistant to over-the-counter products, it's still recommended that these products be tried before stronger prescription medications. They are less risky and less expensive, and not all lice are resistant, even in areas where resistance is higher. Some schools even require these treatments to be used before sending a child back to school, while others have a no-nit policy for school return. Be sure to follow the directions carefully, as otherwise, the product is less likely to work. Don't use a conditioner before using the OTC lice removal treatment, leave the treatment in for the specified time and don't forget to do a second treatment about 10 days later to catch any new lice that have hatched since the first treatment.
When OTC lice removal treatment options don't work, it's time to visit the doctor for something stronger. Prescription treatments can cost as much as $200, and not all insurance companies cover these treatments. Those that do often require people to try an OTC product first. One of these prescription treatments, lindane, has been linked to safety concerns, including an increased risk for cancer, according to a Consumer Reports article. See if the doctor has a prescription treatment available using another chemical to limit this risk.
Regardless of the treatment used, once the treatment has been applied it's important to go through wet hair one small section at a time to remove any visible lice and nits. The nits are small white eggs that are attached to the hair near the scalp. If you blow on them, they won't fly off the hair like dandruff would. Use a special nit removal comb, which has tines that are much closer together than a normal comb. The best of these combs will remove the nits as well as the live bugs, but in many cases, you'll need to use tweezers to remove the smaller nits from the hair. Go through hair daily until no nits or lice are found, then once a week for about a month to make sure the child doesn't get reinfested. There are people and companies that specialize in this process, but it can be pricey, with treatments averaging about $160 each.
For more information on lice removal, talk to a professional.