Over-the-counter medicine cannot kill Super Lice

Posted at 1:13 PM, Mar 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-02 13:13:37-05

Susie Lewis says she first noticed lice in her daughter Rylyn's hair last April.

"She said my hair itches and I looked and I could see the little bugs moving," said Susie.

She says they tried every conventional treatment out there, but nothing worked.

"It was just this little parasite that would not go away," she said.   

According to research presented at an American Chemical Society meeting in August, lice populations in at least 25 states have developed a resistance to over-the-counter treatments. Many people have started referring to this particular strain as 'super lice.'

So parents like Susie Lewis are getting creative.

"We ended up using vegetable oil and a shower cap," she said but that only killed the live bugs.

They then spent four hours going through each strand of hair to cut out the nits, or the lice eggs.

There are prescription treatments available through a doctor but many parents shared at-home remedies on WCPO's sister station, KGUN9's Facebook page that they say worked. One viewer wrote that tea tree oil mixed with olive oil and shampoo worked. While another said to wrap the hair up in mayo leave it overnight.

Or you can try Susie Lewis' vegetable oil remedy, but Rylyn says there is one side effect to keep in mind.

"I smelled like a French fry," she said.


The Centers for Disease Control do not have recommendations for super lice. Here are the recommendations they have for the treatment of lice:

  • Be sure to use medication as directed on the box
  • Do not use medication on hair that has been washed with conditioning shampoo or if hair conditioners have been use.
  • Washing hair too soon after medication has been used will result in failure.
  • Do not re-wash hair for 1-2 days after the lice medication is removed.
  • Put on clean clothing after treatment
  • Soak combs and brushes in hot water (at least 130 degrees) for 5-10 minutes.
  • A second treatment may be required but speak to you physician before re-treating.

Preventing Re-infestation:

  • Wash and drying items, hats, pillows, bedding, clothing at temperatures greater than 130 degrees or dry cleaning.
  • Vacuuming of carpet, furniture, car seats.
  • After each treatment, check the hair by combing with a nit comb every 2-3 days.
  • Continue to check for 2-3 weeks.
  • Siblings and household members in close contact with the infected person must be checked for lice and treated if infested