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Head Lice: Experts Say Combs, Not Chemicals, The Answer

<p>Searching for lice on a child's head with a white comb.</p>

Andreas Altenburger

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Searching for lice on a child's head with a white comb.

Scientists told a meeting of the American Chemical Society this week that lice populations in at least 25 states have developed resistance to over-the-counter treatments.

One of those states is Oregon.

Researcher Kyong Yoon of Southern Illinois University said lice can still be controlled by different chemicals, like prescriptions.

But Janet Kennedy who works at Lice Knowing You in Beaverton, said more chemicals are not the answer. “Recognizing that they’re resistant doesn’t mean we need to go up the chain and stronger prescription," she said.

"We’ve been there before, we know combing works. And even if you were to use prescriptions that are herbicidal and much more toxic, you still need to comb.”

Kennedy’s company charges about $120 to comb through someone’s hair and remove the lice and eggs.

The report found that lice have grown resistant to a family of insecticides known as pyrethroids.

They’re widely used both indoors and outdoors to control lice, mosquitoes and other insects.

Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He specializes in health care, business, politics, law and public safety.