Halloween is just around the corner and kids everywhere are picking out costumes that can range from movie characters to spooky goblins. The scariest of them all might not be those ghouls or ghosts but rather something that’s not bought in stores…head lice! Head lice is definitely something that will make you shiver and tremble but things are about to get even scarier. Recent research has found that some common over-the-counter treatments to combat lice infestation are no longer working!
Scientists at the American Chemical Society published a new report that lice have mutated in a way that’s making them resistant to OTC treatments. That means if your child comes home from school, an outing with friends or comes back from trick-or-treating and has lice, your trip to the local pharmacy for a treatment kit could be an insufficient solution. The researchers found that lice are becoming immune to an insecticide called pyrethroids, which is a chemical used in a variety of applications for insect control. This includes an active ingredient called permethrin that is commonly found in OTC treatments found in drug stores.
In the study, researchers gathered lice populations from 30 states and out of all of their samples, 25 of them had a genetic mutation associated with kdr, which stands for knock-down resistance. The lice populations with the kdr genetic mutations means that the insects nervous system is desensitized to pyrethroids meaning they are resistant to the active ingredient permethrin. While the research only collected samples from 30 states, 25 of them had the kdr mutated populations and it opens the door that the other states left out of the study could also be subjected to the resistance.
This of course is bad news for parents because it makes fighting a lice infestation that much harder. In fact, 6 to 12 million new cases of lice infestations happen each year according to the CDC and that’s for children between the ages of 3 and 11 years old. So what are your options if your child comes home with a lice infestation and you live in one of the 25 states where the OTC treatment doesn’t work? Forget about grabbing the drug store lice kit that’s full of toxic chemicals and opt for a natural head lice treatment because there are ways around an infestation that’s pesticide free and non-toxic.
Safe Steps for Halloween
As mentioned earlier, your child may be participating in some Halloween activities like trick-or-treating and perhaps some school costume parties. With that said, you’ll want to be extra careful when you head to the store to choose a costume. If the costume is in an unsealed bag that can be tried on before purchase, you may want to avoid trying it on as others could have had a lice infestation. Consider ordering costumes online or specifically looking for sealed costumes in the store. This will ensure that no one has tried it on previously because lice can travel by clinging onto fabrics and finding a new home on your child’s head.
When it comes to school parties and other events where your child will be around others dressed up, be sure to tell them to not share costume accessories such as hats, bandanas or other pieces that can be worn on the head. Lice cannot hop or fly, therefore they spread through direct contact, which is why they shouldn’t share costume accessories. The last thing you’ll want to discover is a lice infestation because it’ll become a bigger nuisance than monitoring their candy intake.
Make sure you are extra vigilant this Halloween and always check your entire household for lice to avoid an infestation!