(WOIO) - As many as 12 million American school children between the ages of 3 and 11 get lice. Now "super lice" is invading Ohio. Extensive new research found 95 percent of lice populations collected -- including some from Ohio -- tested positive for a mutation resistant to common over-the-counter treatments.
So what's a parent to do?
Follow directions to the letter. Debbie Busdiecker oversees school health for the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. She says treatment, regardless of the strain, starts at home.
"If your child does have head lice, whatever treatment is used, to really get in there and pick the nits out with your fingers, is really the most effective way, knowing that no shampoo is 100 percent effective," she said.
She says fight the instinct to overtreat or give preventive treatments, because that's actually contributing to the resistance problem. Busdiecker says lice often prefer shampooed hair.
"If one person in the household has head lice, it's important not to treat the whole family. Because if other people don't have it, then you treat them, they could become resistant to that shampoo," explained Busdiecker.
If the lice won't die or come back, Busdiecker says a doctor can prescribe a shampoo with stronger chemicals that should be effective with super lice.
Still, that can also create a problem.
"Some kids may have an underlying health condition, like asthma, where they couldn't tolerate all the treatments," she said.
Ways to treat super lice:
- Avoid the chemicals and look for products that work by dissolving the lice's waxy exoskeleton.
- Use a lice comb to remove eggs before they hatch.
- When you clean the house, anything that can be put into the dryer should go in for a half-hour; anything that can't should be sealed in a garbage bag for two days.