ATLANTA - It's a topic that makes parents squirm. Researchers say head lice are mutating -- in Georgia and 24 other states - making them harder and harder to get rid of with popular over-the-counter treatments. So, what can you do?
"I think parents are going to have to be more thorough than in the past," says Georgia Department of Public Health epidemiologist Laura Edison,DVM, MPH
Edison points out we don't know yet how resistant lice have become.
If your child has had close contact with another child with head lice, start with a hair and scalp check - or your child and others in your household. Using a bright light, a fine-toothed comb, and a little water to wet the hair - examine the child's hair and scalp, especially behind the ears and in the nape of the child's neck.
The American Academy of Dermatology says look for adult lice, which look kind of like sesame seeds, and their eggs, or nits, which look like little yellow tan, or white dots that look like they're attached to the hair shaft close to the scalp.
"You need to wash, comb, and, again, the nest are the eggs. Lice lay on the hairs. It's important you comb and get them all out," says Edison.
If you confirm your child has head lice - given the resistance - you may want to ask your pediatrician to recommend a treatment.
If you go with over-the-counter treatment with insecticides like pyrethrin, read and follow the directions carefully, using the recommended amount for the recommended time. You'll likely have to do follow up treatments. Edison says it's important to treat anything the child has had close contact with around the house, like bedding and cloths.
"Wash and dry on high heat. The high heat will kill the eggs and lice. You can bag it in an air tight bag for 2 weeks that will kill the lice as well."