Your pharmacist can help with a head louse problem

The head louse, a common parasite responsible for head lice infestations, is a term many Canadians are familiar with and potentially have had experience with, particularly Canadians who are parents with school-aged children. However, irrespective of the broad awareness around head lice, parents still have many questions on treatment, management, and best practices when it comes to dealing with a head lice infestation.

With children back at school, it is important to remember that treatment of individuals found with live head lice is recommended. “There is a lot of information, and more specifically, misinformation, around how to treat head lice, particularly with respect to home remedies,” says Victor Wong, a pharmacist from Toronto, Ontario. “When treating head lice, it is important to remember several things. First, you want to treat the infested individual as soon as possible. Second, you want to use a treatment that is safe, effective and convenient with respect to your lifestyle. Third, you want to try and use a treatment that works as quickly as possible.”

Topical pesticides

Traditionally, topical pesticides derived from pyrethroids (permethrin and pyrethrins) have been the mainstay of therapy. However, the growing concern about head lice resistance to pesticide-based treatments has made other topical treatments more viable and effective options. These treatments include Resultz, Siloxane, and Nyda. These treatments are pesticide-free and work in a different way than traditional pesticides, thus avoiding any issues of resistance. Treatment duration ranges from approximately 10 minutes to eight hours.

The physical removal of head lice is also an important step in the treatment of infestations. Nit removal is a tedious and time-consuming procedure involving individual removal of nits from the hair, commonly found behind the ears and the nape of the neck. This procedure can be done as an addition to medical treatment. Soaking the hair with vinegar for 30 to 60 minutes to loosen the wax allows the nits to be combed out more easily.

If you are concerned that you or someone in your family has head lice, consult your pharmacist for the treatment and management regimen that is best suited for you. – NC

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