When we get frantic lice calls from parents wanting to make appointments, one of the first questions we are asked, is “what should we do until we come to you?” The next question is usually, “should we go to the drugstore and purchase an OTC treatment and do before we come to you?” The answer to the first question we give is to take a deep breath and relax. The answer to the next question is a big NO. We usually get a response of “really? why not?” and that takes a bit of explaining.

There are a lot of different of products out there that are available to the consumer over the counter. Some are the generic drug store brand or super market brand and some are the brand names such as  Pronto, Rid, Triple X and Nix. Over the counter products contain either Pyrethrin or Permethrin. Pyrethrins are natural extracts from the chrysanthemum flower. Pyrethrins only kill crawling lice but are only are about 70 % effective and do not kill unhatched nits. A second treatment is recommended in seven to 10 days to kill any newly hatched lice. Treatment failures are common and so is irritated scalp and skin. 
Permethrin : Permethrins are similar to natural pyrethrins. Permethrins are only about 70 % effective at killing live lice and do not kill unhatched nits.  A second treatment may be necessary in seven to 10 days to kill any newly hatched lice that may have hatched after residual medication from the first treatment was no longer active. Treatment failures are also common. There has been much resistance to these medications with lice due to misuse and overuse by parents over the years. Many feel the need to “over treat” when they still are seeing live lice in addition to feeling the need to use on all family members even if no “active live lice” are seen. They do this for preventative measures.

In addition, the plastic combs that come in these kits that are sold are less than adequate to comb out all the lice and nits (eggs) effectively, causing a lot of pulling on the hair. This causes a lot of stress on the hair and on the child, making them feel uncomfortable. Furthermore, often times the pesticides in these treatments irritate the scalp…a lot. By the time the children and adults a like come to see us, their heads have been through so much that they do indeed hurt. It is so much better to just leave it alone until you come to see us and let us do it for you.

We also get asked the questions regarding the prescriptions that kill both lice and their eggs. We have our feelings about those too. Anything that you put on your child’s head you should think twice about. Something strong, as in a prescription to kill lice and eggs, I would think twice before putting on my child’s head. You always want to check with your Pediatrician. Some will write a prescription for it and some will not. Malathion when used as directed is effective in treating lice. It is also supposed to kill the nits (eggs). Some medication remains on the hair and can kill newly hatched lice for seven days after treatment. Malathion is intended for use on people 6 years of age and older. There have been side-effects reported. Malathion may sting if applied to open sores caused by scratching. The medication is flammable. As a mom, in my opinion, this would scare me.

We believe, nothing is more effective than that of combing. When you use a professional grade lice and nit comb and practice proper methods of combing, you can and will get rid of lice. The eradication of lice is a process and one that takes time and patience. However, with the proper education and guidance, you can do it. We were once told that lice is a 4 letter word: L is for Lice, I is for Information, C is for Control and E is for Education and that is what we are here to do for you.

As always, call us with any questions. Have a de-liceful day!

~Lauren Salzberg

Potomac Lice Lady