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Perhaps no four words strike as much fear in a parent's heart as: "Your child has lice." Thankfully, my husband and I have never gotten the call, but our girls are both younger than 4 and the night is young. So when I heard on the news this morning that a genetic mutation has led to a breed of "super lice" that are resistant to most OTC treatments, I cried a little on the inside.
New research out of Southern Illinois University presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society has found that 95 percent of lice populations now proudly don superhero capes with giant SLs on them. These ultra-resistant strains are less susceptible to pyrethroids, the active ingredients in most OTC lice meds, and now reside in 25 states, including California, Texas, Florida and Maine. (Click here for a map to see if your state is under attack.)
Michigan was the only state whose lice population hasn't mutated to the point of no return. This, combined with the fact that Traverse City is the cherry pie capital of the world and Mackinac Island is basically an entire island dedicated to fudge, have convinced me to move my brood there until college.
If the super lice decide to nest in your little one's hair, all is not lost. You may simply need a stronger OTC med or perhaps a prescription from you pediatrician or pediatric dermatologist. What you should not do, experts say, is attempt to suffocate them in olive oil or mayonnaise; save the condiments for your next block party pasta salad.
More good news: Even though dealing with little head scratchers will leave you in need of a vodka tonic with a Xanax chaser, they don't pose any real health threat—or warrant keeping a child from attending school, says the American Academy of Pediatrics in an recently updated report published in Pediatrics.