Children Get Lice at School

The American Academy of Pediatrics claims between 6 million and 12 million Americans (most under age 12) get head lice per year.

Twenty years ago, clinical trials showed that nearly 100 percent of adult and juvenile lice were killed by shampooing with permethrin (in Nix) and pyrethrins (in Rid) but these methods to rid lice are now not as effective due to a stronger louse. These insects are often in schools and travel from household to household in childrens heads no matter what neighborhood you are from.

In the last twenty years, lice have evolved, they've gotten harder to kill. Technically speaking, it's incorrect to say that the insecticides have caused lice to toughen up. Rather, some lice randomly mutate in a way that provides resistance to insecticides, and the mutants are the ones that survive. It reproduces, and then that mutation is basically fixed in the population. The fact is that when we used insecticides to rid ourselves or our children of lice we were contributing to the development of a strounger louse.

Pharmaceutical companies have been researching different insecticides to fight these stronger lice. Ovide, available only by prescription, contains malathion, considered a relatively safe insecticide. However all research indicates that lice will develop a resistance to malathion as did many other insects.

A last-resort prescription option is lindane, the active ingredient in Kwell antilice shampoo. Lindane was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2006 for use in agriculture. So although I can no longer spray lindane on my corn field, I can still get a doctor's prescription to shampoo it into my son's hair. According to an FDA health advisory, its neurological side effects "have ranged from dizziness to seizures."

Treating School Lice-What Works And What Don't
A recent Journal of Pediatric Nursing study showed that petroleum jelly worked best, asphyxiating about sixty six percent of lice within nine hours; it also allowed only six percent of the eggs to hatch. Isopropyl alcohol does not kill lice or prevented nits (baby lice) from hatching. Other studies reported that a compound found in several plants, including tea, cardamom, and thyme worked best against nits. Oil derived from cinnamon bark also proved effective in killing both adult lice and nits. But these are compounds isolated in laboratories, not commercial products; there's a good chance that whatever I buy won't be the same strength, freshness, or purity.

The New York "Lice Lady" Remedy
According to the New Yorker magazine, Abigail Rosenfeld, is a professional nitpicker extraordinaire. Abigail was featured in The New Yorker magazine several years ago as "The Lice Lady." Abigail, who lives in Brooklyn, NY idetified her remedy and solutution to lice in this way: Pour on a white conditioner (which immobilizes the lice and makes them easier to see) mixed with a little baking soda (which acts as an abrasive to strip out the eggs) and comb out the lice using a high-quality metal nit comb. Keep combing for a week or so.

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