How to spot and get rid of resistant head lice

Warning: This story might make you itch. It’s about bugs – lice, in particular.

They don’t take a summer vacation, and some of the creepy, crawly creatures now have “super powers” of sorts.

When school is in session, if a child starts scratching and itching their scalp, it’s off to the nurse. Now, with many students learning at home, parents are pulling double duty, looking for lice.

“Lice have really been around for thousands of years, and they will continue to do so. So just because we’re kind of having this break and social distancing with COVID-19 doesn’t mean that the lice will go away,” said Robert Hawkes, director of Florida Gulf Coast University’s physician assistant program.

Just ask the “LiceDoctors,” Wendy Beck and Karen Sokoloff.

“The first thing you notice if you’re looking for lice – you could either see the live bug, which is brown, or you can see the nit, which is glued onto the hair at an angle,” said Beck, co-owner of the LiceDoctors.

“The natural sunlight provides the best light for identifying nits,” said co-owner Sokoloff.

Spotting them is the easy part. Getting rid of them? A huge challenge.

“Super lice are lice that have evolved over the years and they’re resistant to all of the over-the-counter products,” Beck said.

“The products will kill some of the bugs, but you’ll still have the super lice remaining. So really, the more times you use those products, the worse the lice is going to get, it’s not going to go away.”

Sokoloff said, “the only surefire way to get rid of a case of head lice is to manually extract for lice.”

Catch and comb – and the biting parasites don’t just target children.

“With kids home now, not going to school, not going to camp, not going to daycare, parents and kids are in that much closer contact for longer. So it really is all the more important that parents be on top of this,” Sokoloff said.

Right now, experts say they’ve seen a dip in the number of lice cases going around, thanks to social distancing.

RESOURCE: CDC information on head lice

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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