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Study: Lice are becoming resistant to over-the-counter treatments

Posted at 5:13 PM, Mar 02, 2016

ARVADA, Colo. -- Super lice are multiplying at disturbing rates across the country.

A new study, soon to be published in the Journal of Epidemiology, found the resistant bugs now exist in 48 states. Over-the-counter sprays and shampoos do little to kill the 'super lice.'

At the Lice Clinics of America, they use medical devices cleared by the Food and Drug Administration to treat lice with heat.

"You have taken away what all organisms need for survival -- water -- so you have completely desiccated the egg," said William Boswell, co-owner of Lice Clinics of America Denver.

According to Dr. J. Marshall Clark, who co-authored the study, 2,000 lice were found at 138 sites in 48 states. Alaska and West Virgina were not part of the research. Super lice were found in all states, but in Michigan, New Jersey, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oregon and New York, the lice are not fully resistant yet.

"This is an analogy, and I don't know if it's scientific, but if you think in terms of if you have an illness, and you take antibiotics," said Boswell. "Then, all of a sudden, you stop taking the antibiotics midway, you could have a super infection."

Lice spread through head-to-head contact, when people take 'selfie' pictures together, or when people share brushes and combs.

They are a hearty species that have outlasted the test of time and home remedies.

The CDC estimates there are six to 12 million lice infestations every year in children three to 11 years old.