News | Published April 30, 2014

Head lice is growing resistant to standard medications

Head lice is a growing concern in communities across the U.S. with more than 10 percent of children missing school due to contracting lice. Of greater concern is that most head lice found in North America carry a gene mutation, making them resistant to standard over-the-counter treatments containing the active ingredient, pyrethroid.

After years of using this treatment option, the bug has mutated to be able to resist it. Researchers estimate that close to 100 percent of lice in the U.S. and Canada have the mutated gene. Europe and South America stopped using pyrethroid years ago, due to the same problem.

However, over the last three years, about five new compounds entered the market. These drugs are actually easier to use, because they require one application, whereas the others had to be applied multiple times. The new medications cannot be found over-the-counter, though. If you or your children contract lice, ask your physician for a prescription for one of the new formulas.

To prevent head lice, do not share hats, headbands, hair accessories, pillows and combs and avoid head-to-head contact with anyone being treated for lice.