It is highly likely that even if you haven’t personally used a head lice treatment within the last three years, that you’ve heard the term ‘Super Lice’ anyhow. In 2016, a study* was released stating head lice in 48 states (exceptions: Alaska & West Virginia) were showing resistance to common over-the-counter treatments, thus they received the name ‘Super Lice’. Understandably, the news of the resistance had many medical professionals and parents concerned, wondering how this might affect the number of head lice outbreaks, and how they are treated.
Luckily, there are head lice treatment options on the shelf that are effective, even against super lice. According to the study, products containing chemical pesticides such as permethrin and pyrethrum are the culprits when it comes to lice resistance. Because these ingredients have been the standard in head lice treatment over many decades, these little critters have had ample time to build up immunity. Luckily, there remain head lice treatment options on the shelf that are effective against all lice (yes, that includes super lice), learn how to treat lice below:
While time consuming and tedious, many still prefer the method of nit picking. If nit picking is the chosen route of head lice treatment, it is imperative to find a high quality (usually, metal) nit comb. The process can be long and grueling as it is recommended to comb through 1” sections of hair at a time, and the nit comb should be wiped or rinsed after each pass (to clear the comb of any lice or nits it has swept up from the hair). On most retail shelves, you can find a high quality nit comb along with products that act as a lubricant (common ingredient: dimethicone) to aid the comb-out process. If you have more than one noggin to treat, you may rethink this option.
Natural & Non-Toxic Lice Treatments
There are also several natural lice treatments as well as non-toxic options to choose from; most contain various combinations of essential oils to help ‘repel’ lice, not necessarily kill them. Other treatments in this category contain Dimethicone (as mentioned above) or a similar agent, which is a lubricant to aid the comb-out process. Lastly, there are treatments that kill lice and eggs by mechanical action via dehydration such as Licefreee!® non-toxic lice treatments.
Tips for Lice Treatment
Not all head lice treatments are created equal, and there are several that have not been proven effective against super lice. Because there is no one-size-fits-all head lice treatment, you will have to find the solution that works best for you and your family. If you are concerned about Super Lice, select a method mentioned above; if you choose a product, be sure to find one that specifically mentions ‘Super Lice’ on the packaging. Although they sound scary, super lice aren’t anything to fear. While they have become resistant to some treatments, you still have many options to tackle your head lice problems.
More questions about head lice? Check out our resources section for pictures of head lice, tips for how to get rid of lice at home, and so much more! With our help, you’ll be lice free in no time!
*Journal of Medical Entomology, Volume 53, Issue 3, 1 May 2016, Pages 653–659, https://doi.org/10.1093/jme/tjw023 Published: 31 March 2016