Q. Scientists recently proclaimed some lice have now become so-called "super lice." Now that kids are back in school, should parents be anxious?
A. Super lice aren't bigger or more dangerous -- they are harder to get rid of. They have become totally or partly resistant to pyrethroids, the over-the-counter insecticides in the treatments parents frequently use to try to eliminate lice from children's hair.
Scientists at southern Illinois University-Edwardsville announced in August that they found super lice in 25 states. New York lice, however, were found to have partial, not total, resistance.
Melissa Levin, a nurse practitioner who owns and operates Lice Tamers, a Melville-based natural lice treatment and removal service, says she has seen evidence of this from customers who contact her after they have tried over-the-counter treatments repeatedly and still see lice in their children's hair. She offers these preventive tips:
Girls should keep their hair up so it's less likely to come in contact with other kids' hair.
Parents should tell kids to keep their jackets in their backpacks instead of hanging them on hooks in classroom closets. Remind them not to share brushes, hats or helmets.
Parents should purchase a lice comb and comb out the child's hair weekly after showering while hair is wet. "It should be part of your hygiene, like you brush your teeth . . . you look for lice," Levin says. "If anything is lurking in there, you will get it out before it can become an infestation."