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What you should know about head lice treatments

Featuring content from MediResource Inc.

If head lice have made an appearance in your family, you'll be keen to know how to get rid of these unwelcome visitors. Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options for head lice.

You can treat head lice (singular louse) with an over-the-counter topical treatment specifically designed to treat head lice. (Topical treatments are treatments that are applied directly to the surface that is affected, rather than taken like a pill.) These products are available at your pharmacy. You can ask your pharmacist to help you choose a product, tell you how to use your selected product, and answer any questions you may have.

In Canada, there are 2 types of topical treatments: those that contain traditional insecticides, and an innovative type of treatment that does not contain traditional insecticides.

Treatments containing traditional insecticides

These products contain traditional insecticides that kill lice by damaging their nervous systems.

Products containing traditional insecticides include:

  • pyrethrins with piperonyl butoxide (found in R+C® shampoo/conditioner and Pronto® Lice Killing Shampoo)
  • permethrin (Nix® or Kwellada-P®)
  • lindane (Hexit® or PMS-Lindane shampoo)

Pyrethrins with piperonyl butoxide have been approved for children 2 years of age and older. Permethrin can be used for children 2 years of age and older. Caution must be exercised when using lindane to treat infants, young children, and anyone weighing under 50 kg, because they may be at risk of serious neurotoxicity. If you have any questions about these treatments, talk to your pharmacist.

When choosing a treatment, it's also important to think about resistance. Resistance means that the lice have changed their genetic makeup and can now survive a treatment that used to be effective. In some areas, resistance has been reported. Check with your pharmacist to learn more about whether head lice are resistant to any treatments in your area.

Treatments containing no traditional insecticides

An innovative type of treatment that contains no traditional insecticides is available in Canada. It's called isopropyl myristate 50% (Resultz™). This treatment works by dissolving the wax that covers the louse's outer skeleton, which dehydrates and kills the parasite. Isopropyl myristate 50% is clinically proven to be effective for treating head lice.

Isopropyl myristate, the active ingredient of Resultz™, is widely used in lower concentrations in skincare and cosmetic products such as lipstick, bath oil, and moisturizers. As a head lice treatment, isopropyl myristate 50% is colourless and odourless. It can be used for people aged 4 years and older.

Here's how to use it:

  1. Use towels to protect the eyes from the treatment and stop clothes from getting wet.
  2. Apply the product to dry hair and massage it into the hair until the scalp and hair are thoroughly wet with the product, especially at the sides and back of the neck.
  3. Use larger amounts of the product for longer hair.
  4. Leave it on the hair for 10 minutes.
  5. Rinse the hair with warm water.
  6. Wash the hair if desired.
  7. Repeat the treatment one week later.

Use a nit comb daily between the first and second treatments to remove the dead nits.

The second treatment helps kill any new lice that may have hatched after the first treatment. After the first treatment, check the entire family daily for lice until the second treatment. After that, check daily for 2 weeks.

For more information on isopropyl myristate 50%, you can visit www.beatheadlice.ca.

When choosing a treatment, it's also important to think about resistance. Resistance means that the lice have changed their genetic makeup and can now survive a treatment that used to be effective. In some areas, resistance has been reported. Check with your pharmacist to learn more about whether head lice are resistant to any treatments in your area.

Your pharmacist can also help you choose a treatment that's appropriate for your family. Talk to your pharmacist if you have any questions about head lice treatment.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Head-Lice-Treatments