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Super lice are infestations of head lice that do not respond immediately to the usual commercial products formulated to remove the lice from the hair. Over the years, there are those in the medical community that warned that it was only a matter of time before these lice came to be. Other medical professionals reject the concept, and believe the resistance has more to do with the individual than with the lice.
The theory behind super lice is that over time, strains of lice have built up an immunity to the key ingredients in over the counter lice removal products, such as shampoos. Proponents of the theory note that it is not unusual for any type of insect to acquire an immunity to a given product over time, and that there is no reason to assume lice are not capable of that same level of adaptation.
There are several different chemicals used in various lice removal products. All of them are considered to be insecticides. Such chemicals as permethrin, lindane, malathion and pyrethrin are found in either over the counter remedies for head lice, or are part of the compounds of prescription only products formulated to deal with severe cases. Lice that are classified as super lice often require treatment with the stronger prescription products, even if the infestation is considered to be somewhat minor in the number of mature lice and eggs present.
These treatment resistant lice do still respond to over the counter products in some cases. However, rather than the usual course of initial treatment followed up with a treatment several days later to kill any lingering eggs before they hatch, dealing with super lice usually means additional applications of the product over a longer period of time.
While some researchers are firmly behind the idea of super lice, others consider the whole idea to be a misrepresentation of the situation. As part of the process of debunking the concept of super lice, they point to the fact that many people still receive relief from using over the counter lice removal products. However, there is a growing concern in some circles that if newer and stronger treatments for lice are not developed, the lice will continue to adapt and eventually render the current treatments completely ineffectual.
When my son came home with a note from the school nurse about possible head lice, we tried all of the traditional home lice remedies, like mayonnaise and tea tree oil shampoos. We also tried to comb out every lice nit we could find. I thought we got ahead of the problem, but he still showed signs of a lice infestation.
That's when my doctor told me about super head lice. He sent us to a special treatment center in another town, and they knew how to treat super lice. This was a serious matter for us, since he wasn't allowed to come back to school until a doctor signed off that the treatment was successful. There were about 5 or 6 children in the same situation as our son, and most of them were out of regular classes for a week.
A few years ago, a friend of mine mentioned on Facebook that she had to take her daughter to a place that specialized in head lice removal. Apparently there was a lice infestation at her daughter's day care center and all of the children had to be treated. The treatment center told my friend it was a case of "super head lice", and they had to schedule extra treatments and use stronger shampoos they mixed up in the shop.
My friend jokingly said she thought her daughter's hair was indestructible because it was so thick, but all it took was one child with super lice nits to prove that theory wrong.
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