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Don't Panic, Super Lice Are Nothing to Worry About

There are a few things that parents of school-age children dread more than a lice outbreak. Though I have not personally experienced it, I can only imagine the horror of knowing that your child's scalp, clothing and bedding are infested with nasty little bugs. Shudder.

I can't imagine anything worse. Except, maybe, mutant super lice that are resistant to the typical treatments.

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I've seen many parents freaking out on social media because a new strain of "super lice" have been fighting their way across the United States. The current outbreak of super lice has spread across 25 states, and who knows whether they will stop anytime soon.

You may, however, be surprised to know that "super lice" have been around for decades.

You may be seeing a lot of "the end is nigh" sort of headlines about these mutant lice... but they won't kill you, and there's really nothing "super" about them.

Every so often, evolution kicks in and our methods of extermination suddenly no longer work when bugs begin to develop immunities. The good news is that while they are gross and annoying and possibly traumatizing, lice aren't particularly harmful. Head lice, no matter how super they may be, don't transmit disease (unlike the body louse, which can be deadly.)

While over-the-counter medications haven't yet caught up with the head louse's latest genetic mutation, all is not lost. If OTC treatment doesn't work, or you know that super lice are in your region, see your doctor for a prescription, which will certainly be effective.

You may be seeing a lot of "the end is nigh" sort of headlines about these mutant lice, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if they do indeed end up in every state. But they won't kill you, and there's really nothing "super" about them. They've simply outgrown the most commonly used treatments and we're simply in the process of catching up.

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So if you spot a creepy-crawly on your child's head, don't panic. Check to see whether your area is known to be affected by super lice, and if so, make an appointment with your doctor. There are several kinds of treatment available that are proven to work on even the super-est of the lice.

But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so make sure your kids know not to share hats, headbands, combs, or anything else that touches their head with their friends and classmates. You should also use a fine-toothed comb to look through your child's hair to check for lice regularly.

Photograph by: Getty Images

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