What is Super Lice?

By Nora Heston Tarte

Getting Rid of Lice

It’s a parent’s nightmare: tiny bugs infiltrating the house through your children’s hair.

What’s worse? California has been identified as a super lice state. What are super lice? Super lice are a genetically mutated form of lice that resists the active ingredients in shampoos used to kill them off, making ridding your children, and your home, extra difficult.

The Facts
Twenty-five states have been identified as super lice states, including California

Super lice look, act, and spread the same as regular lice

Super lice are not vulnerable to many normal lice treatments

Every year six to twelve million children get head lice

Diagnosis & Treatment
If you suspect your child has lice, or super lice, the treatment is the same. Check hair thoroughly. A good indication that your child may have lice include a recent breakout at their school, daycare, or around town, itching, and irritability. In the case of a breakout, check your child’s hair even if other symptoms are not present.

“Super lice spread just like regular lice. The difference is that super lice tend to be resistant to over-the-counter treatments that have traditionally worked to get rid of them,” says Dr. Anita Heart, MD, a family medicine physician with Dignity Health Medical Group – Stockton. “Super lice may require prescription medication.”

If you suspect lice, check your child’s hair with a fine-toothed comb and shine a light onto the scalp. Sesame seed-sized brown bugs or nits that look much like specks of dirt will appear to be crawling around or latched onto individual hairs.

If lice are present, proceed with treatment. Gather hair clips, a towel, tissues, a sealable plastic bag, and disposable gloves to remove the lice. Then, wash with an over-the-counter solution. If lice do not resolve, seek a prescription. Your child may have super lice. Expert Tip: Grab the tablet and let your child watch a favorite show or play a game while you remove lice. It keeps them from getting antsy.

It’s hard to prevent lice of any kind, but good habits can help.

“To prevent super lice take the same precautions you would take to prevent regular lice. Parents should encourage their kids to avoid direct head-to-head contact with other kids, and to not share combs, brushes, hair bows, or hats,” warns Dr. Anita. “Teens should also be cautioned to skip the head-to-head pose when taking selfies with their friends.”

Lice Mythbusters
Dogs, cats, and other pets do not carry or spread lice
How clean hair is does not affect the possibility of lice
Head lice are NOT dangerous.