When the word “super” is in front of the name of a bug, it automatically makes you know it’s not your average insect. Superbugs, or types of bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc. that can’t be resolved with medication, are a major public health hazard because they are hard to treat. As superbugs have evolved, they have grown more and more resistant — causing the medical community to constantly search for new ways to deal with widespread common illnesses.
Lice are no exception to superbugs. Known as super lice, these pests are notorious for being difficult to get rid of. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about detecting and treating super lice.
What Are Super Lice?
If you’re a parent, you’ve undoubtedly heard of head lice. They are blood-sucking, small insects that can either be a gray color or red and live in hair almost anywhere on the body. Their eggs, called nits, are tiny and easily confused for a dry scalp or dandruff. Super lice have the same body structure, color, and characteristics as typical lice but are resistant to most common lice treatments.
Because of this, doing regular lice checks for school-age children or people that are around large crowds is vital. Kids can get head lice from head-to-head contact, usually at school, after-school clubs, or other large gatherings.
Why Are Super Lice More Common Now Than In The Past?
The term “super lice” was coined after a study published in 2015 discovered that head lice were beginning to become resistant to the chemicals used in lice treatment. At this point, treatment-resistant lice were only identified in 25 states in the U.S. Researcher Kyong Yoon, PhD, who was a part of the American Chemical Society and on staff at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville at the time of the research, was the first to report this phenomenon in the 21st century. Previous research was much smaller than the 109 lice populations surveyed by Yoon and his team.
Super lice are the most resistant to pyrethroids, which are chemicals found frequently in bug sprays and insecticides. While they effectively treat some types of lice, long-term exposure can be potentially hazardous to your health.
But what causes this level of resistance? Like many antibiotics used to treat viruses, lice develop a sort of “immunity” against medications after being exposed to them for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, this is becoming more common as time goes on.
Now, almost 10 years after Yoon’s study in 2015, they are present in all 48 contiguous states.
What Are The Symptoms Of Super Lice?
While the most common symptom associated with the presence of lice is an itchy head, itching can sometimes take weeks to be present. In the meantime, the lice infestation can grow exponentially.
Other symptoms of super lice are
- White or gray “flakes” on the scalp: Lice are often confused with dandruff. If you notice that your scalp is extra itchy and dry, or see white or gray flakes that aren’t usually there, check for lice immediately.
- A rash: It’s normal for a rash to develop when you have lice. Red, itchy bumps will appear, especially if you’re scratching your head frequently or the lice are left untreated for a long time. These rashes can lead to swollen lymph nodes or sores near the edges of the hair. In some cases, it even leads to infection.
- Trouble sleeping: Because lice are the most active at night and in low light, you might have difficulty falling or staying asleep. Going without sleep can lead to increased anxiety, depression, fatigue, and other mental or physical health struggles.
If your child begins to experience any of these symptoms, get checked for lice as soon as possible. Using a fine-tooth comb or a magnifying glass, look closely at the scalp to see if you can see small, moving insects or nits crawling around.
How Are They Treated?
Here’s what you need to know about treating super lice:
- Trying to eliminate lice with a fine-tooth comb is not only time-consuming, but it is also ineffective. While you may remove many of the adult bugs and most nits, if you miss just one nit, the infestation continues.
- Lice cannot survive off of their host, so while you may feel inclined to wash sheets and clothes, driving yourself crazy isn’t totally necessary. Lice need blood to survive, so they will die within 3-4 days without it.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) products will not work. In fact, the toxins and chemicals in these treatments can be harmful to your child. These treatments are ineffective against super lice — leaving many parents at a loss of what to do.
Since the discovery of super lice, professionals have had to develop more intense head lice treatment methods. Despite their name, they aren’t indestructible. One of the best treatment methods for super lice is AirAllé. This treatment lasts about 30 minutes and uses a hairdryer-like device to blow the lice outside the insulating layer of the hair, which is the closest layer to the scalp. You can get this treatment at one of our conveniently located lice removal clinics.
How Do I Find A Lice Removal Clinic?
If your child has super lice, finding head lice treatment can be a challenge.
Fresh Heads Head Lice Treatment Center is a lice removal clinic in Orlando, FL. Since we opened, we’ve been winning awards for our top-of-the-line care. With offers like a 45-day re-treatment policy and the quickest single lice removal treatment available, you can’t go wrong. In just under 90 minutes, your family can be lice-free. Plus, there’s no additional follow-up needed. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Schools Without Lice
At Fresh Heads Lice Removal, our mission is to get rid of lice in schools across the United States. We’ve partnered with the Lice Clinics of America to create the Schools Without Lice program. Through this program, we provide school nurses and teachers with free screenings, resources, and treatments. Together, we can have schools without lice!