Head lice developing resistance to common medications

Head lice developing resistance to common medications

Watch out, moms and dads.

The next time your youngster brings home head lice from school or a friend’s sleepover, it may not be as easy to get rid of as it was in the past. Handling a case of head lice has never been a walk in the park, but thankfully over-the-counter medications are available to help you get rid of the pesky little vermin.

Those containing permethrin are among the most effective. However, it turns out that these handy medicines are not always viable options nowadays. New research by Illinois scientists shows that 25 U.S. states now have strains of head lice that show resistance to permethrin.

According to the American Chemical Society, drug resistance among lice and similar pests is not a new problem. It was first reported in Israel nearly two decades ago.

The researchers presented their own findings on the topic at a recent scientific meeting. Their investigation involved testing the genes of lice collected from 30 different U.S. states. Lice from all but one of the states sampled had at least one of the three genetic mutations responsible for the critters’ ability to withstand permethrin.

Some of the states’ lice had just one or two of the mutations. These bugs would be less resistant than those with all three mutations. Michigan was the only state sampled that had no lice with any of the genetic variations.

So what’s a frazzled parent of a head-scratching kid to do? Unless you live in Michigan, try an over-the-counter medication that doesn’t contain permethrin. Or head to your pediatrician to obtain a prescription for a stronger medication to knock out the bugs.

Either way, the thought of increased drug resistance among head lice is still enough to give anyone the creeps.

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