Battle Ready—Preparing For the Super Lice Invasion

The coronavirus has us all running for cover. What seemed like a faraway virus in another corner of the world, has now become 2020’s most gruesome realities. From practicing social distancing and staying indoors for quarantine, we’re pretty much confined to the constraints of this new and terrifying way of life. The only thing that could make it worse is a lice infestation. The mere thought of pesky creatures loitering on our head sends a chill down our spines. The idea that a creepy crawly insect can suck the blood right out of our scalp is enough to make us scratch our head instinctively. So we do everything in our power to make sure we stay lice free. We teach our kids about lice prevention and tell them to keep their hats and coats to themselves. We even stop them from going to sleepovers if we suspect another kid has a lice infestation. But even after all this, when we do get a lice infestation, we meet the challenge head-on and unfazed­—because we know that the infestation will eventually die down with over-the-counter treatments that many have been using for decades. But here’s a thing of the nightmares: What if there was a species of head lice that were immune to these over-the-counter treatments that we’ve all begun to rely on so much? What if these over-the-counter treatments were the reasons these species of lice came into existence? A super lice infestation causing excessive itching The first rule of battle is to know your enemy, and that’s exactly what we’re here to help you with. If you haven’t heard about this specie of head lice, we’re here to help you put on the armor you need to keep away these pesky creatures that are bringing our worst nightmares to life. Let’s take a look at what super lice are, where they come from, and how you can prevent a super lice infestation from affecting your sanity and peace of mind with the help of lice specialists in Merrick, NY.

What Are Super Lice?—How Are They Different From the Typical Head Lice?

A woman scratching her head due to a super lice infestation Head lice are parasites that feed on the blood of the human scalp to survive. They spread from person to person contact by attaching themselves to the human hair. Once they take root on our scalp, the lice thrive in the warmth of our scalp and use the human blood to survive. This is when the female head louse starts reproducing by laying up to six nits (eggs) a day—and before you know it, there’s a live infestation on your scalp, The tricky thing with head lice is that the host never really knows when the infestation begins. Even though itching is a sure-fire sign that a lice infestation is afoot, it isn’t until the infestation is well underway that the itching becomes indicative of the infestation. Head lice have been treated with over-the-counter treatments. These treatments use chemicals to kill the lice—often, the cost of our hair’s health. But many people don’t bat an eye. If they had to choose between brittle or dry hair and scratching their scalp until it was raw and bloody, we’d gladly pick the former. Unfortunately, these over-the-counter treatments are now doing more harm than good. The basic rule of evolution dictates that if a specie finds itself fighting for its survival against a formidable enemy, it will evolve, adapt, and eventually find a way to survive—and that’s exactly what the super lice has done. Super lice are a strain of head lice that have become resistant to the conventional treatments of lice removal. A study in 2016 found that these lice have spread to 48 states in America and can no longer be eliminated with common chemicals used in over-the-counter treatments, such as permethrin and pyrethrin. The super lice don’t look any different from the typical head lice. They’re only identified by their resistance to the traditional treatment methods.

How Did The Pervasive Parasite Come About?

Pesticide resistance in head lice can be traced back to the Second World War. Millions of soldiers from Asia and Europe were lathered in insecticide to prevent infestations. The practice continued till the 1980s. Then came the pyrethroids. One treatment with this chemical could kill all adult lice and even their nits in a matter of a few weeks. Within a few years, pyrethroid-based treatments were being readily used to treat and eliminate head lice infestations. The chemicals worked by disrupting the nervous system of the lice by ruining the regulation of sodium ions in the cell membrane of their nerve cells. This leads to an influx of sodium in the nerve cell that would cause the head lice to convulse, become paralyzed, and eventually die. Over the years, the chemical primed lice to develop resistance. The super lice have developed a knockdown resistance mutation that desensitizes its nervous system to the effects of the pyrethroids. Human beings gave super lice an advantage by subjecting them to the same over-the-counter treatments again and again. Not only did the repeated exposure build resistance, but it also rendered any other chemical that could have used a similar mechanism to eliminate head lice useless. A study conducted by Kyong Yoong, a renowned biologist from Southern Illinois University, collected samples from 30 states to identify how many of them had super lice. Results show that lice in 25 states contain a gene mutation that protects them against permethrin. As of now, conventional over-the-counter treatments for head lice have become mostly ineffective.

The Symptoms of Super Lice

Much like the typical head lice, the super lice spread from direct contact with someone that has a live infestation. Symptoms associated with super lice include:
  • Excessive itching on the neck and ears
  • The presence of lice and nits on clothes
  • Red bumps lining the neck, shoulder, and the scalp
  • A tickling sensation on the scalp caused by the movement of lice in your hair
  • Irritability
In severe cases, excessive itching causes the skin to break due to scratching. This can increase the risk of infection and other diseases. A woman with an irritated scalp due to a super lice infestation

How Do The Super Lice Spread?

The super lice have a short-life span, but the infestations can last longer since conventional methods of treatments are useless. Contrary to what you may think, a super lice infestation isn’t a result of poor hygiene.  In addition to that, super lice don’t fly or swim. They’re transmitted when they crawl onto the host’s scalp and take root. You can contract super lice by coming into contact with furniture or an inanimate object with a fallen louse. Even though lice require the warmth of the scalp and the hosts’ blood to survive, if they slip from your hair and land on an object, they can still survive for a few hours—giving them ample opportunity to find a new host. In addition to that, sharing items such as pillowcases, hair accessories, hairbrushes, toys, scarves, and hats can also lead to super lice.

Why Do They Continue To Persist?

While the overuse of over-the-counter treatment may have been the primary reason why super lice came into existence, there are several other secondary reasons why lice were able to develop immunity.

The Misdiagnosis of Head Lice Infestation and Its Consequences

One may think that it’s relatively impossible for people to misdiagnose a head lice infestation, especially healthcare professionals that have been trained for it. But you may be surprised at how often a misdiagnosis has led to lice treatments being administered incorrectly—once again, over-exposing them to chemical insecticides. A study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health tested the accuracy of diagnosing head lice infestations in school children because that’s where frequent transmissions occur. The study invited healthcare professionals to submit specimens associated with their diagnosis. The research concluded that a majority of healthcare professionals were unable to differentiate between active and old infestations. In addition to that, most school nurses solely based their diagnosis on spotting nits understanding the difference between viable and non-viable nits. Nits aren’t a necessary indicator of a live infestation, as they can also imply that the infestation has died down. This entails that over-the-counter head lice treatments are being administered even when they aren’t required. Not only does this harm the persons’ scalp and hair, but it also increases the resistance of head lice against these treatments.

Preventing a Super Lice Infestation

Head lice have squandered the face of the earth for as long as human beings can trace back their own origin. All these near-microscopic insects do is crawl on our scalp, suck our blood, and lay their eggs. From the times of unwashed and unbathed humans back in Europe to the present day clean man, head lice have been a nuisance since the beginning of time—and the introduction of super lice is just another icing on the rotten cake. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we can make it through this because prevention is better than the cure. Even though a super lice infestation isn’t as deadly as the vicious pandemic we’re all living in; it’s equally inconvenient. Here are a few tried and tested ways you can prevent a super lice infestation: A man scratching his scalp

Minimize Head To Head Contact

Amid stay-at-home orders and businesses adopting remote working models, we find ourselves seeing a whole lot more of the people we live with. This means increased interaction and more physical contact—and there’s nothing that super lice love more than head to head contact. Whether you want to read your child a bedtime story every night or laze around in the backyard by resting your head on your partner’s shoulder, you should try to minimize head to head contact if someone has contracted lice in your house. With schools opening, you must be even more vigilant because children often put their heads close together with others when they study or play. Ask your kid to keep their distance from others at school to minimize the risk of a head lice infestation, and of course, the coronavirus.

Separate Your Personal Belongings

Shared spaces and items are breeding grounds for head lice because it’s easy for lice to crawl their way from one host to another. Lockers, closets, and drawers must be kept separate at the slightest sign of an infestation so that the whole family doesn’t get infected. You should also ask your children to keep their belongings, especially head-touching items such as combs, brushes, hats, helmets, towels, scarves, and earbuds away from one another to minimize the risk of an infestation.

Treatment Options for Super Lice

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try or how cautious we are, life throws us a curveball, and we’re left stunned. If you’ve taken every precaution in the book and still suspect a head lice infestation in your home, we’re here to help you get rid of it so you can rest easy and live out the rest of your quarantine days in peace. But how? Over-the-counter treatments are virtually useless. Do you resort to home remedies that you found on the internet? Not at all. Slathering your hair with vinegar, mayonnaise, coconut oil, or whatever concoction of natural ingredients you find on the internet isn’t going to cut it. At best, these remedies are anecdotal, and there’s no clinical evidence that points to their efficacy for super lice removal. But don’t worry, there are a few other steps you can take to halt an active infestation in its tracks before it gets out of hand. Here’s how you can get started.

1.     Shampoo Your Hair

If you’ve taken up the task of removing super lice and nits yourself, start by shampooing your hair, so it’s wet, untangled, and easy to comb through. You can opt for an pesticide free shampoo that doesn’t have toxins to ruin your hair’s texture and strip it of all its moisture. A non-toxic and hypoallergenic lice removal shampoo You can opt for Lice Troopers’ pesticide free lice treatment shampoo that’s perfect for kids and adults alike. It contains natural and nourishing ingredients that don’t leave your scalp feeling flaky or your hair looking brittle and dry. The shampoo also makes it easy to remove stubborn nits that hold on to hair follicles and refuse to budge.

2.     Bring In the Lice Extraction Comb

A fine-toothed comb can help you find super lice and differentiate between dandruff and nits. It helps you part the hair so you can focus on removing lice from one section at a time. The Lice Troopers’ fine-toothed, lice extraction comb is durable, reusable, and designed to conduct regular lice-checks at home easily. This may be a time-consuming method, but it’s an effective one. In fact, research shows that wet combing is 95 percent effective in the elimination of head lice. Make sure you do this under a good light source to see and identify nits and lice properly. You should also cover the shoulders with a towel so that any louse that falls out of the hair can be prevented from scurrying away.

3.     Be Cautious For the Next Few Days

You may think you have taken out all the lice, but you can’t ever be too sure. To be thorough, you must keep an eye out for any head-scratching and irritation on the scalp. You should also regularly inspect the scalp, and comb with the lice extraction comb for the next two to three days to reduce the risk of a re-infestation. If you don’t see any super lice or nits ruining your night’s sleep in the next three weeks, you’re in the clear.

4.     Clean Your Surroundings

Super lice are notorious for falling off the strands of hair and landing on an inanimate object—and before you know it, there’s another infestation underway. Once you’re done with self-inspection and lice removal, it’s time to clean around the house to make it lice-free. Common cleaning chores that you should do are: changing bedspreads and bedsheets, washing your carpets and rugs with Lice Troopers’ cleaner, washing your clothes and head accessories in hot water, and changing pillowcases. If you want to clean a non-washable item, you can store it in an airtight plastic bag for two weeks to suffocate any super lice that may be crawling over it.

5.     Call In the Lice Specialists for Professional Lice Removal

Getting rid of lice is a tedious task. It can take you hours to clean your scalp and weeks to ensure there isn’t another infestation. If you miss even a single nit, the whole ordeal can start all over again—so why not just leave it to the professionals who can guarantee a lice-free scalp and house for you? Calling in professional lice inspection and cleaning services can help you skip the first four steps and become lice-free immediately. All you have to do is sit back and let the lice specialists eliminate the stubborn super lice by using natural treatments.

Hire Premier Lice Treatment Services in Merrick, NY

Lice Troopers offer high-quality head lice treatment in Merrick, NY, so that you can say bye-bye to the nuisance of super lice once and for all. We’re a leading lice removal clinic that offers in-home lice removal services and home inspection and cleaning services. We’re a one-stop-shop for head lice removal for several customers in Merrick, NY. Our in-home lice removal services are convenient for families that want to get screened for and get rid of infestations from the comforts of their homes while staying safe during the coronavirus pandemic. We take strict preventative measures and comply with all safety protocols and guidelines suggested by CDC to ensure our customers’ health and safety. We also offer home inspection and cleaning services so that no fallen or missed louse can cause a re-infestation. Our lice specialists and cleaners arrive in unmarked vans to keep the appointment confidential for the sake of the customers. Benefit from our natural lice removal services in Merrick, NY, by booking an appointment with us today! We offer same-day appointments and extended evening and weekend hours for your convenience. Give us a call to find out more about our services and products!