Experts warn of “super lice”

(WTNH) — Head lice: words no parent wants to hear. Though the school year is coming to an end, lice can be a problem year round. Experts are warning about what’s known as “super lice” – bugs that do not respond to conventional treatments.

One of the symptoms of lice is itchiness. In extreme cases, you may even be able to see the bugs in someone’s hair. Experts say often there are not a lot of options for getting rid of the pests.

“The lice have become resistant to the standard over-the-counter treatments that are available,” said Adrian Picheny, one of the owners of Lice Treatment Center in Monroe.

Picheny says sectioning the hair and using a special comb to remove the bugs and the eggs is the best way to get rid of lice. The bugs are only about the size of a sesame seed. The eggs, called nits, are even smaller.

“The nits are going to be very, very small, about the size of a poppy seed,” said Kyle Stevens, head technician at Lice Treatment Center. “They have kind of a teardrop shape and they stay glued to the hair.”

The bugs do not fly or jump; they crawl. They can live off of a head for up to 48 hours. They are most commonly spread through head to head contact. Though you might think of super lice as something that only affects kids, that’s not always the case.

In theory, if you went to the movies and sat in a movie theater seat where somebody with lice had been sitting before you, you could get lice that way,” said Picheny.

Experts say your best bet is to prevent lice from becoming a problem in the first place. That’s why they check the entire family if someone gets lice, and encourage everyone to be aware.

“The best thing you can do is keep the hair up,” Stevens said. “Additionally, [check] for lice periodically.”

Though lice can be a problem all year long, experts often see an uptick in the summer, as people travel and kids go to summer camps. Many schools and camps now do lice screenings to prevent lice from spreading.

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