Get Ready For Insecticide Resistant Lice

OTC insecticides used to kill lice, such as NIX and RID, are becoming less useful, according to the WSJ.

The most common prescription treatment, Ovide, still works in the US, but in the UK lice have developed a resistance to malathion, the active ingredient.

From the WSJ:

A number of new treatments are in the pipeline, but are still a ways off from approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In the meantime, many people are searching for new ways to kill these pests — which affect six million to 12 million people each year in the U.S., occurring in all areas of the country and across socioeconomic strata.

Bayer HealthCare, the maker of RID, says its product is effective when used as directed — including combing out the hair between two applications of the shampoo. The company says it believes any problems with efficacy and reinfestation are linked to incorrect application.

So-called nit-picking services, where someone manually combs out the lice and their eggs, are another alternative that has been growing in popularity. New salon-style providers have been popping up around the country — and some make house calls. But such services can be expensive, costing hundreds of dollars. Hair Fairies, with salons in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, charges $300 a person, according to Maria Botham, Hair Fairies founder. Other such services include Lousey Nitpickers, which operates in Southern California and charges $100 and hour, and Lice Fighters, which makes trips throughout New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, for $200 a head.

Well, ew.

A Head Scratcher: How to Get Rid Of a Pesky Parasite [WSJ]


Edit Your Comment

  1. magic8ball says:

    A study in the journal “Pediatrics” showed that you could kill them with what is, basically, a modified hair dryer. Link to a news article from 2006: []

  2. mixerfx says:

    Well it seems we gotta get back to the basics, but do any of you know how any of our grandparents had to deal with this?

  3. Venarain says:

    interestingly enough, this has been true for a while, my mother is a nurse and she’s been dealing with her elderly patients getting drug resistant lice since i was in high school (7 years ago). combs and shaving your head seem to be the best solution…and staying the fuck away from those germy/buggy things called children.

  4. Havok154 says:

    Looks like people might have to resort to bathing regularly.

  5. TeraGram says:

    PREVENTION is indeed the best solution. Lice, believe it or not, like clean hair. Dirty little rug-rats who only wash their hair once a month are their least favorite victims!

    Whenever a lice scare goes through my kid’s school I ensure her hair is slathered with hair-gel and/or hairspray and either braided or set up in a bun.

    One reason, I believe, that she’s never gotten lice is because her hair is curly and prone to tangles. We’ve been using a silicone-based hair glossing product to minimize the pain of after-shower comb-throughs for years. So, you see, her hair is only perfectly clean for about 30 seconds after every bath/shower. The rest of the time, she’s got some sort of product in her hair.

  6. TechnoDestructo says:


    I dunno, but I suspect shaving your head/whereever else has hair and is infested and then soaking it in a bleach solution strong enough to hurt would probably take care of it.

    And seriously, if you want to get rid of any kind of infestation, you don’t fuck around with it. I got a kitten from the animal shelter in December, and he had ringworm (completely different problem, but with analogous solutions). He gave it to me, and I think I may have had the most rapid progression of it in recorded history.

    I quarantined the cat (a month locked in the spare bedroom)…probably not neccesary for lice, especially if you take the shaved head/scorched earth approach. I sprayed every surface in the house which I or the cat had touched with a bleach solution, daily, for a month. I washed bedding (all of it) daily until my rashes started going away, then every other day after that.

    I had a few spots which refused to die off, so I used this concentrated rinse I got for the cat…undiluted…on my skin. Like the vet said it would do to the cat if I didn’t dilute it, it pretty much burned my skin away, but damned if it didn’t get rid of the ringworm.

    Anyhow, overkill is the best way. Sterilize everything. And you don’t have to puss out so much when it comes to killing them on the body, it’s all external.

    If I had pesticide-resistant super-lice, I think I can safely say I’d shave my head over a sheet of plastic, burn the sheet and everything on it, then scour my head with steel wool, and burn that. Then have someone take a lighter to my head just enough that anything left there would have a very bad day.

    I think the satisfaction of knowing I killed the fuckers and all their children too would be worth it. This isn’t a war this is FUCKING GENOCIDE.

    I did shave my head when I got ringworm, but only close enough that I wasn’t wasting my 40 dollar bottle of shampoo.

  7. North of 49 says:

    The kids who spent no more than two hours a week at playcare came home with lice one day. Actually, it was more like they woke up in my bed and I saw something suspicious in the toddler’s hair.

    So, out came the olive oil soak and the Wiggles dvd to keep them happy. Two hours of nitpicking preschooler and at least three of nitpicking the toddler with her long (for her) hair and I got most of them out. It took another three treatments over the next two weeks before I was satisfied. I can still find the odd nit in her hair since she refused to sit still for me to “properly” nit pick but I haven’t found a living one since the day I started treatment.

    Sure, this is several months now, but the kids are clean. I’m pretty sure those dead nits were from when I treated her all those months ago.

  8. Miss Anthropy says:

    Apparently you can electrocute them with the Robi Comb. Thankfully, they can’t develop a resistance to getting zapped to death.

  9. faust1200 says:

    I for one welcome our new lice overlords.

  10. WV.Hillbilly says:

    DDT works.

  11. chutch says:

    @Miss Anthropy:

    I am going into education and this is something that has always left a creepy feeling with me. I researched and came up on these Electro-Combs. I’ve heard that they are VERY good, but do not know from personal experience.

    Has anyone here ever tried this form of electrocuting the lice? I’m not too much for the finger in the light socket form of it.

  12. Dad-o-two says:

    We’ve had the best luck with, believe it or not, miracle whip. It seems to suffocate them. Slather it on real good and leave it in overnight under a shower cap. In the morning wash hair as normal. Hair is free of infestation and luxurious.

  13. RAPBIGICP1 says:

    Hair Gel. I don’t have the scientific evidence, but rumor has it, that they can’t “grasp” on to hair that’s been gelled, and if they do happen to get in there, the regular use of gel will smother them.

  14. Rahnee says:

    This topic reminds me of the South Park “Lice Capades” episode. I teach school so I am around lice all the time but that episode really wigged me out. Way to go Matt and Trey! In my 11 years of teaching I have seen lice so big they looked like big brown yard crickets. At that point they have been on you long enough to consider them as pets. Not on me personally, I keep enough crap in my hair to discourage them.

  15. veterandem says:

    When I reached boot camp the first order of business was to have my head shaved (technically speaking). The military has been doing this for years for this problem. Lice can’t live in a deforested head (simple, but true). My real concern is for ticks (as I found one on my leg Sunday evening), as they are vectors which can carry debilatating diseases (Lyme, Rocky Mtn. Spotted Fever, etc). Lice, um, not so much. Just be glad that they are not the “sabre tooth crotch crickets” that are more embarassing to get rid of!

  16. Really you just have to be thorough about the nit-picking, and too many parents prefer just to use the shampoo and call it a day and then are shocked — SHOCKED! — when the lice aren’t all gone. The lice can also only live for around 48 hours without a human host, so if you’re thorough about the nit-picking, you can pack up and leave the house for a weekend and come back and they’re all dead and gone. Alternatively, they drown in water, die from detergent, and get killed by dryer heat, so washing fabrics does them in thrice.

    Fascinating lice fact — lice in the US are primarily European lice, so they’re specifically evolved with their little grabbers to be able to grab the average distance between two caucasian hair follicles and the proper shape of caucasian hair. They have a hella time holding on to African hair (Asian hair is closer to caucasian hair in shape and distance, so they do better there), so infestations are far less common in minority-dominated schools than in white-dominated schools.

    Of course, in Africa, the African lice are evolved for local hosts and caucasians are rarely infested for the same hair-shape-and-distance reasons.

  17. nffcnnr says:

    What do people who don’t believe in evolution think about lice “developing” resistence to treatment? Do they blame God for this?

  18. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    You don’t squeegee it off in the morning & mix it into the tuna salad?
    Think of the extra protein it contains!

  19. Gopher bond says:

    You dirtbags sure know a lot about lice.

  20. springpondbver says:

    How to kill pests without killing yourself or the earth……

    There are about 50 to 60 million insect species on earth – we have named only about 1 million and there are only about 1 thousand pest species – already over 50% of these thousand pests are already resistant to our volatile, dangerous, synthetic pesticide POISONS. We accidentally lose about 25,000 to 100,000 species of insects, plants and animals every year due to “man’s footprint”. But, after poisoning the entire world and contaminating every living thing for over 60 years with these dangerous and ineffective pesticide POISONS we have not even controlled much less eliminated even one pest species and every year we use/misuse more and more pesticide POISONS to try to “keep up”! Even with all of this expensive pollution – we lose more and more crops and lives to these thousand pests every year.

    We are losing the war against these thousand pests mainly because we insist on using only synthetic pesticide POISONS and fertilizers There has been a severe “knowledge drought” – a worldwide decline in agricultural R&D, especially in production research and safe, more effective pest control since the advent of synthetic pesticide POISONS and fertilizers. Today we are like lemmings running to the sea insisting that is the “right way”. The greatest challenge facing humanity this century is the necessity for us to double our global food production with less land, less water, less nutrients, less science, frequent droughts, more and more contamination and ever-increasing pest damage.

    National Poison Prevention Week, March 18-24,2007 was created to highlight the dangers of poisoning and how to prevent it. One study shows that about 70,000 children in the USA were involved in common household pesticide-related (acute) poisonings or exposures in 2004. It is estimated that 300,000 farm workers suffer acute pesticide poisoning each year in the United States – No one is checking chronic contamination.

    In order to try to help “stem the tide”, I have just finished re-writing my IPM encyclopedia entitled: THE BEST CONTROL II, that contains over 2,800 safe and far more effective alternatives to pesticide POISONS. This latest copyrighted work is about 1,800 pages in length and is now being updated at my new website at [] .

    This new website at [] has been basically updated; all we have left to update is Chapter 39 and to renumber the pages. All of these copyrighted items are free for you to read and/or download. There is simply no need to POISON yourself or your family or to have any pest problems.

    Stephen L. Tvedten
    2530 Hayes Street Marne, Michigan 49435
    “An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.” –Victor Hugo

  21. memphis9 says:

    The robi-comb WORKS. It is not easy to shock yourself with it – actually, you have to be trying to do it, but even then it is no worse than a static charge from sythetics out of the dryer.

    You have to sit there with the comb and I have had a little bowl of water for dropping the critters into – the better to account for and be certain that all are DEAD. It doesn’t hurt to make this a two person job, and it’s a pain in the tuckas, but I am NEVER again dousing my kids with malathion and other wonderful, I’m sure carcinogenic crap when there’s an alternative.

    And no, you may not get every single nit with the first use, but if you are doing it twice a day, no hatched juvenile is going to live long enough to lay another egg, so you will definitely stop the life cycle.