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Sunday
May272012

Over-the-Counter Lice Treatment No Longer Effective?

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(KUNA, Idaho) -- Last week, a Kuna, Idaho, elementary school closed for two days after 60 students and nine staff members were diagnosed with head lice.

An estimated 12 million cases of head lice are diagnosed in the United States each year, and medical experts say that while they don't kill, they can be an irritating nuisance for parents and a public relations embarrassment for schools.

Officials at Kuna's Indian Creek Elementary School did not return calls from ABC News, but sent a letter to parents urging them to check their children and get treatment while the school was cleaned.

In the past, over-the-counter products like Nix and RID have been effective, but now many cases are becoming drug resistant, so head lice outbreaks like the one in Idaho are on the rise.

"People get really freaked out when their kids get it," said Dr. Ari Brown, an Austin, Texas, pediatrician and author of "Baby 411."

"They think, 'Oh, my gosh, my kids are dirty.' But lice don't care what economic class you are in," she said. "Parents also worry that they are going to get it, too. They are disgusted by the whole concept."

Head lice are small, wingless insects about the size of a sesame seed that only live in the human scalp and feed by sucking blood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The crawling lice or their eggs, known as nits, can be found attached to the hair.

"Lice have this social stigma and all kinds of stuff wrapped up in it and it's certainly no fun to deal with -- but it's not such a big deal," said Brown.

To the dismay of health-conscious parents, when standard treatments don't work, they must turn to expensive prescription drugs that contain pesticides, like malathion.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio