The name sounds ominous: super lice.
“It sounds scary, like it’s carrying a disease,” said Julie Pryde, public health administrator at the Champaign Urbana Public Health District. “But it’s actually the same lice we’ve been seeing around here for years.”
Recent reports have linked Illinois to what’s been dubbed ‘super lice,’ but according to the CUPHD, the term is a misnomer. There is nothing ‘super’ about the lice.
“It just means the lice are becoming resistant to the over-the-counter things that have been used to kill them,” Pryde said.
Lice cases are not typically reported to CUPHD, she said, but the organization has received calls about them. Lice — tiny ticks that attach to hair near the scalp and frequently spread through head-to-head contact between youngsters — must be removed with old-fashioned methods: meticulously combing the nits from the hair; washing and drying any fabrics that have contacted the lice; and doing it consistently.
It is a tiresome process, but it is the only way to ensure the lice are gone.
“What people need to focus on is the physical removal of them,” Pryde said. “That’s always kind of been the problem with lice: People thought it was like dandruff, and you just wash it and be done with it. That may or may not kill all the lice to begin with, but then the nits would hatch. You’re better off to get rid of all the nits.”
Over-the-counter treatments like special shampoos are having less of an effect on lice these days, according to the report. But Pryde said they’ve never been guaranteed to eliminate a case of lice. The only way to do that is through the comb-and-clean method.
“Doctors will tell you it’s been this way for a long time,” Pryde said. “It’s nothing they haven’t really been seeing around here for years.”