HeadLice.Org Hot Spots

Treatments for lice can be toxic

July 17, 2003

Dear Green Living: I've heard that conventional lice treatments contain toxic chemicals. Are safer, more natural alternatives available? -- Dwayne Newton, Charleston, S.C.

Dear Dwayne: Lice are parasitic insects that feed on human blood, and their saliva often causes intense itching. Each year, 10 to12 million Americans -- mostly children -- are diagnosed with lice infestation. Head lice lay their eggs on hair shafts and are typically spread as people share items like combs, hats, headphones, car seats and bedding. The National Pediculosis Association (NPA) advises consumers to be cautious with conventional lice treatments, including shampoos and lotions, since they contain toxic, and in some cases carcinogenic, pesticides. The NPA says people with epilepsy, asthma, brain tumors, cancer, AIDS and pregnant or nursing women should all avoid chemical lice medications. Further, the NPA is calling on the medical community to address the current "resistance crisis" of lice becoming increasingly resistant to pesticide treatments.

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