HeadLice.Org Hot Spots

Resistant Lice?


The NPA receives calls everyday from parents and health professionals reporting product treatment failure ... reports of folks using "everything on the drug store shelf," only to continue finding adult-sized crawling lice.

Unfortunately, frustrated parents have responded to persistent infestations by repeatedly using treatment products, or by resorting to dangerous alternatives. There are many elements that can play a role in treatment failure. While there is more than sufficient reason to seriously consider insect resistance, we must also acknowledge other possible contributing factors such as failure to follow product treatment instructions, failure to remove all nits, and false hope generated by product marketing promises.

Until the treatment failure crisis is fully addressed by the scientific and medical community as well as the product manufacturers, the NPA is offering the following suggestions for those who use a lice treatment product and experience treatment failure:

  • If you continue to be infested with live lice after treatment, discontinue use of the products and don't use other products in the hope of killing the lice. Remember, these products are not mere shampoos, cremes or lotions, they are pesticides.
  • Never resort to dangerous remedies such as lindane, kerosene, or pet shampoos.
  • Manual removal is crucial. Beyond snipping or pulling out the nits, you should also be screening for and removing live lice. Having at least two people check an infested person is important as one person cannot see the entire scalp. Lice move quickly and shy away from light when you are checking.
  • Don't spend hours on end cleaning your environment. Head lice need human blood to survive. Vacuum surface areas only. Save your time and energy for what will benefit you most, delousing the individual. NEVER USE A LICE SPRAY!
  • When screening for lice with a nit-removal comb, it may be helpful to dip it into water and clean it before going to the next section of hair.
  • Equip yourself and your helpers with a magnifying glass, tweezers, safety scissors, and a nit-removal comb.
  • If you are experiencing treatment failure, please report it to the NPA's Registry by clicking here.


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