Head lice have mutated and are resistant to over the counter treatments

Condition & Comb: One of the best methods is to wet comb without using any treatments
Condition & Comb: One of the best methods is to wet comb without using any treatments

A new study has revealed that head lice have become resistant to the main ingredients in most of the over the counter remedies parents buy in chemists.

The Journal of Medical Entomology (JME) show head lice have developed resistance to two types of common over the counter insecticide treatments for lice infestation.

The treatments don't usually kill all the lice, so survivors can develop immunity. The study shows that 98% of head lice have developed resistance.

"This newly published data supports what we've been seeing in our offices and clinics: an increase in treatment-resistant super lice," said Chris Belcher, M.D., Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent, Indianapolis, IN.

"It's important that parents contact a clinician if they suspect their child has head lice. There are effective, non-pyrethrin, non-pyrethroid-based prescription agents that can be used if treatment with over-the-counter products has been unsuccessful."

The report claimed that misuse of the treatments has contributed to the increase in resistance with up to 69 percent of people admitting 'using more than the suggested dose in an attempt to increase the effectiveness of the treatment'.

Andrew Hennessy of Hair Experts says there are a lot of misconceptions about lice. "What we don't have in Ireland, and we desperately need, are policies in relation to this in schools, and then proper education," he told Breaking News.ie.

"So it's kind of a two-stage process: It's education about lice and how the spread properly - they don't jump, they don't hop or fly, so it's head-to-head contact.

"It's that type of information that need to be spread - as we say: Spread the word, not the problem."

"Detection is the key," he added.

Top Five Tips

  1. Keep longer hair tied up.
  2. One method that a lot of parents are now using is the “conditioner and comb” method. You simply apply conditioner to the hair and any adult lice present will be “paralysed” and can then be removed with a lice comb. Repeat every four days to ensure all remaining bugs and eggs are removed.
  3. Check hair regularly. Just because you sorted the problem last weekend does not mean a new infestation didn't start this week.
  4. A lot of parents swear by tea tree oil as a preventative - rub a little behind the ears and back of the neck every morning 
  5. If all else fails, shave their heads!

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