“Super Lice” — The Latest Head-Scratcher

What’s with all the head lice these days?

With two school-aged kids, I’m getting pretty sick and tired of receiving regular head lice alerts! It seems I’m reading a notice every other week about a new outbreak.

Just the thought of it makes my head itchy!

So what is going on? Why is head lice so much more prevalent these days?

Unfortunately, a new study suggests that there is a new form of these mutated parasites —  called “super lice” — that is not as easy to kill as its predecessors.

According to the Journal of Medical Entomology, a publication for the Entomological Society of America, these pesky critters are getting stronger and a lot more difficult to get rid of.

Scientists looked at lice found across Canada and the United States and found that 99.6 per cent of lice tested were resistant to typical chemical lice treatments you find at the drugstore.

The “super lice” also seemed bigger, with stronger exo-skeletons which spread quicker than traditional lice. As well, these bugs have evolved with a different egg-laying system.

Similar to a cold or any other ailment that requires antibiotics, bacteria can become immune or resistant to chemical treatments — and superbugs are born.

“They call it ‘super’ lice, because it’s kind of like antibiotics to humans when a product is misused,” said Maria Botham, owner of the Hair Fairies, a children’s hair salon for lice removal. “[When] overused on a bug. You’re building up a pretty strong bug, hence ‘super’ lice.”

As lice become more ‘immune’ to regular lice shampoos, parents are turning to experts, such as Botham, who pick the lice from hair by hand for a very high price — a session at the Hair Fairies costs around $300.

Have you had to deal with lice? Do you have any good tips for distraught parents?

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