“Super lice” creeping their way onto heads

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

head lice
Because lice are wingless critters, they spread through human contact, like hugs and shared clothes.

There have been a lot of reports in the news about “superbug” bacteria that can resist medicine, but apparently they aren’t the only organisms getting stronger! Schools in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have reported seeing more cases of kids with lice – a parasite that lives in hair and drinks blood to survive. However, the critters are unlike anything they’ve ever seen before, because these “super lice” can resist traditional treatments!

Usually, the small bugs spread when people touch another person’s hair, give hugs, and share clothes. After the bugs infest a new person, they get straight to producing more eggs and making themselves at home. They even help themselves to a person’s blood for a warm meal and individual hair shafts for a comfortable home!

A special type of shampoo is usually enough to get rid of the bugs, but according to doctors from the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, more of them are starting to fight off the treatment. “When you look in the literature there’s more and more reports of resistance among head lice,” said Dr. Robin Gehris, a pediatric dermatologist at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

However, there are simple ways to get rid of the creepy crawlers, even the “super” ones. First and foremost, don’t get the lice at all! Be sure to stay cautious when playing with other children, and keep in mind that good hygiene (being clean) doesn’t guarantee someone is free of lice. There’s always a chance that the cleanest kid in the whole school could have some of these bugs in their hair!

If the creatures manage to crawl onto your head, don’t worry. Traditional medicines may not work, but there are stronger, more effective options available. The downside to these super shampoos is they have a strong smell and are a wee bit… flammable. Don’t want to risk your hair catching fire? Take the natural route and use products like mayonnaise, olive oil, and vinegar to drown the bugs.

It can be a bit embarrassing to have a case of head lice, but don’t feel ashamed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are around 6 to 12 million cases every year!

Featured image courtesy of Gilles San Martin on Wikimedia. Image of louse courtesy of Albus on Flickr.