Lice! What do parents need to do?

SPECIAL to the

Glen Rose – With recent stories in the news cycle that lice have been found with resistance to over-the- counter treatments in the state of Texas it is good to keep things in perspective as we begin a new school year. As most people know it is an annual risk of children attracting lice when grouped with other students. Some CDC estimates show that 6-12 million kids worldwide are infected with lice each year.

The study referenced in the news was conducted by Dr. Kyong Yoon and the study is a continuum of research he started in graduate school. In his study he has found that some lice populations in the country have developed a “knock-down resistance” mutation to pyrethriods. Kdr mutations are nothing new in the insect world or even with lice, similar occurrences have been found in other countries including Israel in the 1990s.

Pyrethroid insecticides are a special chemical class of active ingredients found in many of the modern insecticides on store shelves and used by pest management professionals. Pyrethroids are general use insecticides for indoor and outdoor treatments for mosquitoes, flies, and other insects.

Lice can still be controlled with pyrethroids based products, and if it seems like you have a problem getting rid of the insects you can always switch to a different chemical for control. “Physically removing lice is as important as treatment” said Dr. Sonja Swiger, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Entomologist said.

Common characteristics of Lice:

  • They mostly spread from direct person to person contact.
  • Infestations are commonly spread within families more than schools.
  • Secondary mode of transmission usually through personal belongings, i.e. hats, combs, or other hair accessories.
  • Lice can crawl quickly but they rarely travel far from a preferred habitat, such as the warmth of the scalp.
  • Eggs can be confused with dandruff or hair spray droplets, which easily come off of hair.
  • Size: 2 - 4 mm in length, the approximate size of a match head or sesame seed.
  • Colors documented as grey, tan, brown, red or black.

Common symptoms of lice infestation:

  • Itchy scalp due to parasites salvia
  • Red bumps due to bites
  • Crawling feeling on your scalp especially at night.

If you think a family member has lice, it is important to physically remove the insects, and trust over the counter treatments for the duration of treatment. If you have trouble getting rid of lice make sure you are staying away from contaminated areas and consult your physician about additional treatment options.

For additional information, contact Zach Davis, AgriLife Extension agent in Somervell County 254.897.2809.