"If you have young children in school, you’ve probably worried about them picking up lice. An estimated six to 12 million people deal with this itchy problem every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)."
"A new Consumer Reports nationally representative survey of 2,016 U.S. adults found that among those with children under the age of 18, 21% said that someone in their home has had lice within the past five years."
"Lice are distressing, and their bites cause intense itching, which can lead to sores and possible secondary infections."
"You may have heard the term “super lice” lately — super lice are just like regular lice except that they’ve acquired genetic mutations that make them resistant to plant-derived insecticides called pyrethrins and their synthetic cousins, pyrethroids. These are the active ingredients in many over-the-counter lice treatment shampoos. Research suggests that super lice are becoming almost ubiquitous, says Michael Hansen, Ph.D., CR's senior scientist."
"That can make treating a head lice infestation tricky. Here are what treatments you should turn to in case a family member picks up lice."
"The Lowdown on Lice Treatment Products
Although products abound for getting rid of lice, to eliminate the pests, no special substances or pesticides are needed. Wet combing involves carefully combing with a nit comb to physically pick out nits and lice."
"What to know: Our experts say that wet combing is a great approach to treating head lice. It can be time consuming and requires perseverance, but no pesticides or pricey products are involved. Here’s how to do it:"
"Coat your child’s hair and scalp with conditioner or a safe lubricant such as olive oil. Use a wide-tooth comb to separate hair into sections. Follow with a metal nit or flea comb, available at drug or pet stores, concentrating on the area close to the scalp. After each comb-through, wipe the comb on a paper towel and inspect for lice. Continue combing until no lice are found; a single session can take 15 to 60 minutes, depending on the length and thickness of hair."
"Repeat every three to four days for several weeks, and continue regular combings for two weeks after any session where an adult louse is found."
A variety of prescription treatments are available for head lice. The Food and Drug Administration has approved several of these in the past decade. One, topical spinosad (Natroba and generic), contains a chemical derived from bacteria that acts on the lice’s nervous systems (they become overexcited, then paralyzed, then die). Another, topical ivermectin (Sklice), works similarly (ivermectin is a common veterinary medicine, too)."
"A third non-pesticidal treatment that works by suffocating lice, benzyl alcohol lotion (Ulesfia), was recently discontinued by its manufacturer for business reasons. A post on the FDA’s website notes the discontinuation was not due to any problems with safety or efficacy. We reached out to the company for more information but have yet to hear back."
"Two older prescription medications, malathion (Ovide and generic) and lindane (Scabene, Kwell, and generic) are also available."
"What to know: According to clinical trials of the drugs, spinosad and ivermectin appear to work relatively well against lice. They act via different mechanisms than the pyrethrins or pyrethroids. But you'll need to go to the doctor, and these products are expensive: $100 or more for a single bottle."
"Skip products containing lindane and malathion, our experts say. Lindane is neurotoxic and carcinogenic to humans, and it has been linked to reports of seizures and even deaths from improper use. Malathion hasn’t been proved safe on children under six years. It’s also highly flammable and in some cases can cause stinging and chemical burns."
"Non-Pesticide Over-the-Counter Products
To address the problem of pesticide resistance in super lice, some companies have introduced products that claim to get rid of lice without pesticides."
"One such product, Nix Ultra, includes a lotion made with dimethicone, which smothers lice. Another product, which is available in Canada, Resultz, uses the ingredient isopropyl myristate, which dissolves the bugs’ exoskeletons and dehydrates them."
"What to know: These products aren’t pesticides, so lice are unlikely to adapt to become resistant to them. The active ingredients are common in a variety of cosmetics, and they’re unlikely to pose major risks, so these are reasonable options for people to try; just remember that even with these products, combing is likely to be involved (in the U.S., dimethicone as a lice treatment is sold as part of a kit that also contains a lice comb)."
You might have heard of home remedies for getting rid of lice, such as the application of mayonnaise, oil, or petroleum jelly. Some of these alternative treatments rely on suffocating or drowning lice."
"What to know: The research on these options is slim, but some evidence suggests they may not be very effective. In one 2018 study, researchers subjected lice in a lab to suffocation and submersion in water. The scientists found that 100 percent of tested lice survived eight hours in a sealed container without oxygen and 6 hours immersed in water. Many were able to survive under those conditions for much longer."
"Gangloff-Kaufmann says that these types of treatment are often left on hair overnight, covered with a shower cap or plastic bag to keep the mayo or oil from getting everywhere. But this can pose a choking hazard, she notes."
"Focusing your efforts on wet combing is likely to be a better bet."
Parents of Children Ages 6 to 9 watch a lot of TV; a minimum of three hours for more than half of this audience to be exact, according to AudienceSCAN. Along their favorite programs to watch is the local evening news. These parents are 35% more likely than others to watch video from a local TV station via their website or app. So, while more than half of this audience took action after seeing a TV commercial last year, they can also be targeted online. They're 38% more likely than others to click on text link ads on websites and, last year, they took action after seeing ads on daily deals sites such as Groupon, receiving email ads and hearing ads on both digital and over-the-air radio.
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