The Question: I’ve heard that lice are becoming resistant to over-the-counter remedies. Is there a chemical-free way to get rid of them?
Answer: The dreaded Pediculus humanus capitis, or common head louse, is a widespread health concern, with about 6 to 12 million cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Many parents resort to OTC pesticide treatments, which not only contain potentially toxic chemicals like permethrins but also aren’t very effective because of the problem you mentioned: Lice have become increasingly resistant to pesticides. Based on published studies, including one I recently co-authored, I believe the safest and most effective alternative is LiceMD ($14, drugstore.com), a treatment containing dimethicone. This silicone-based polymer has several advantages, including that its method of action is mechanical rather than chemical, which means that lice theoretically cannot develop resistance to it. In addition, it has an excellent safety profile and works quickly and thoroughly. After the first day of treatment, more than 98 percent of children in our study were free of lice.
Lawrence D. Rosen, M.D., a member of KIWI’s editorial advisory board, is the founder of The Whole Child Center in Oradell, New Jersey, and the coauthor of Treatment Alternatives for Children.
Have a question for Dr. Rosen? E-mail him at [email protected]