There’s an outbreak of drug-resistant head lice in half of U.S. states and they’re kind of a big problem, especially for children.
Nicknamed “Super Lice”, these little bugs can’t be dealt with your regular treatments, including all the popular brands of lice shampoos and removers.
As a result, business is booming at lice treatment centers all over the country. And Lice Clinics of America has a machine that kills super lice-- using fluctuating warm air that blows at varying strengths — but it costs parents $170. (1)
Some insurance companies cover the cost, but some don’t because the machines are relatively new.
The discovery of mutated lice isn’t anything new. A 2014 study “revealed that 99.6 percent of the lice found in the United States are ‘super lice resistant to pyrethrins and permethrin. It makes sense: Just as bacteria mutate to make an end run around an antibiotic, so too do fast-reproducing head lice, which mutate to survive the neurotoxic onslaught.”
“It’s almost saturated with (these genes), which means that people using permethrin and pyrethrin based products will probably have a very hard time controlling the lice,” said Kyong Sup Yoon, associate professor of biological sciences and environmental sciences at Southern Illinois University, who led the research for the study. (3)
Some Quick Facts About Super Lice
- Due to a genetic mutation, super lice are resistant to over-the-counter treatments used to kill regular lice.
- Symptoms of head lice include the feeling of something moving in the hair, an itchy scalp, irritability and difficulty sleeping.
- Super lice are spread by direct contact with the hair of an infested person, the CDC reports. Head lice move by crawling, but they cannot hop or fly. Lice can also spread by sharing clothing or hair accessories recently worn or used by a person with lice. Dogs, cats and other pets cannot spread head lice.
- All clothing, linens and toys should be washed in hot water. (4)
Before Trying OTC Options…
Before you start loading up with over-the-counter options, you might want to know what’s in it.
“The answer: neurotoxins, which kill lice by attacking the central nervous system. Rid, Pronto, and A-200 contain pyrethrins, and Nix contains permethrin, all used in common garden pesticides. Ovide contains an even stronger neurotoxin, malathion. (Yes, that’s the same pesticide many communities banned a decade ago.)
Needless to say, these pesticides aren’t something you’d normally want to expose your kids to. Pyrethrin exposure has been linked to asthma and other breathing problems in children, as well as skin rashes. They’re also probable endocrine disruptors and may raise breast cancer risk by elevating estrogen levels. Lindane, the oldest neurotoxin used for lice treatment and the active ingredient in Kwell, has been banned in 52 countries and restricted in 33 others for causing serious side effects, including seizures, stiff neck, lethargy, and slurred speech.” (5)
How To Fight Drug Resistant Head Lice Using Essential Oils
- Oregano, aniseed and Cinnamon leaf – kills 100% of adults and eggs.
- Tea tree (Melaleuca) – 83% eggs, 93% adults.
How To Use
The most effective method of application was using a high concentration of essential oil in alcohol (alcohol makes the insect skins more permeable to the insecticide properties of the essential oil solution).
E.g.: 50ml alcohol (vodka) to 10 drops essential oil rubbed into the scalp/hair, then left overnight.
The solution can then be washed off with shampoo, after which 2ml of the original mix is added to a rinse solution of 50ml vinegar and 50ml water. The treatment should be repeated after 7 days and fine combing between treatments is essential.
The following essential oils and blends may help to combat these super lice.
Oils & Blends: Eucalyptus, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon, Melaleuca, Rosemary, Purify Blend, On Guard Blend.
- Daily treatment of essential oils (10-20 drops of melaleuca, lemon and On Guard in 1 oz carrier oil or alcohol) -- leave on for at least 30 minutes and then shampoo out with a natural shampoo with lavender and rosemary added.
2. Nit pick with lice comb.
3. Wash all beddings and towels in HOT water and vinegar or bleach.
If the infestation is serious, after the wash, you can do a rinse with;
- 1 ounce apple cider vinegar
- 4 drops of Eucalyptus
- 4 drops of Lavender
- 4 drops of Melaleuca
- 8 oz of water
Let this rinse air dry. Be careful of the eyes. The vinegar smell will go away as it dries.
Simple Solution To Prevent Future Head Lice Infestations
Salt and vinegar can work together to dehydrate and kill lice/nits.
To use, apply as a spray (1/4 cup salt dissolved in 1/4 cup warm apple cider vinegar) until the scalp/hair is wet.
Let the mixture air dry and then coat the scalp and hair with coconut oil. (6) Leave the oil overnight to suffocate any remaining living lice. Then comb through the hair.
After combing, wash with shampoo to remove the oil and use a hair dryer at maximum heat to blow dry.