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Turn to nit combs, not shampoos for head lice

VANCOUVER - Head lice are developing resistance to chemicals used to treat them, health professionals confirm.

The six-legged pests can drive parents and children crazy. It's estimated one in 10 kids has lice at any given time.

Checking for head lice.

Sophie Laliberte Else of Toronto has dealt with infestations in her children. She volunteered on lice patrol at her kids' school.

"We did find doing that it dramatically changed how many kids were getting lice," said Laliberte Else. "I mean the numbers dropped."

The small insects are easily transferred from head to head, and it is becoming more difficult to get rid of the parasites.

Shampoos that were once used to get ride of lice are no longer working as well.

"I think the head lice are developing a resistance to a component of the shampoo called permethrin," said Shelagh Weatherill of the Vancouver Coastal Health.

Weatherill said popular shampoos aren't killing the lice, even though parents are using the product appropriately.

The best advice is to stick to tried-and-true methods like white hair conditioner, a nit comb and a lot of elbow grease, she said.

"We recommend that this be done every three to four days for over a period of two weeks, to ensure the life cycle has been broken," said Weatherhill.

Written by CBC News Online staff, Copyright © CBC 2004


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