Over-the-counter products fail to kill super lice

Head lice in the United States are becoming more and more resistant to the most popular lice-treatment products. As a result, these “Super Lice” are becoming more difficult to kill, increasing frustration and anxiety among parents. In contrast, heated-air treatments, which dehydrate lice and their eggs instead of using pesticides, continue to effectively kill even super lice.

The emergence of super lice received national attention recently following a report by Kyong Yoon, Ph.D. to the American Chemical Society.* Yoon, who has been researching pesticide resistance with John Clark, Ph.D. since the 1990s, stated that lice in 25 states have mutated to be resistant to the pesticides in the most popular over-the-counter head-lice products.

In contrast, clinical studies of a heated-air device called the AirAllé® (formerly Lousebuster) showed it to be a highly effective method of killing lice in a single, hour-long treatment, including the super lice. In particular, it killed 99.2 percent of lice eggs, which was important because many lice-treatment products don’t kill eggs and require multiple treatments and extensive combing to remove the eggs.** In comparison, other clinical studies in the past six years have shown that permethrin-based treatment products, which lice have evolved resistance to, are less than 50 percent effective even after two treatments and 14 days.

Also, the AirAllé® device kills super lice. Dr. Dale Clayton, an evolutionary parasitologist who invented the AirAllé® device, said, “There’s no evidence that lice can evolve resistance to desiccation through heated air.”

Click here for a comparison of lice treatments that have been clinically tested.


**Efficacy of the LouseBuster, a New Medical Device for Treating Head Lice (Anoplura: Pediculidae), SARAH E. BUSH, ALEX N. ROCK, SHERRI L. JONES, JAEL R. MALENKE, AND DALE H. CLAYTON, J. Med. Entomol. 48(1): 67Ð72 (2011); DOI: 10.1603/ME10122