Mutant lice harder to treat - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Mutant lice harder to treat


A new study revealed the majority of head lice populations may be immune to over-the-counter treatments.

Researchers tested lice in at least 25 states-- including Georgia and South Carolina -- and found lice with genetic mutations.

Doctors at Memorial Health said the findings from this study are not surprising at all, in fact they believe it's been a problem in the area for at least five years.

"No, no, we were not surprised. We all laughed,” said Dr. Kelly Solms, Memorial Health.

Dr. Solms is tickled that a study finally revealed their suspicions at the hospital

"For years we've been seeing head lice that don't respond to the over-the-counter treatments. It's been a really frustrating problem,” said Dr. Solms.

She said parents will come in after days and weeks of trying to treat their child with over the counter products without any success. And while doctors can easily prescribe medication that will get rid of the bugs, it comes with a steep price.

"They are very expensive and not always covered by insurance, so they are not always the greatest option,” said Dr. Solms.

Not the greatest but maybe the only option. She said home remedies don't really work. The only other option would be to get rid of your hair but that could be traumatic for a child.

A prescription to get rid of the lice could cost a parent upwards of $700, but this new study may help.

"Hopefully the insurance companies will follow the research and follow suit and provide those. They typically do, once they realize something is not effective. They'll allow us to prescribe the more expensive product,” said Dr. Solms.

She said if you detect lice, try an over the counter product first. But if it's not gone within a day or two, you probably need to go to the doctor.

Other ways to help get rid of lice include:

  • Use a nit comb to comb out nits-- which are the eggs-- and live bugs from the scalp.
  • Machine wash and dry all clothing and bed linens.
  • Soak brushes and combs in hot water.

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