What are head lice?
Head lice are small insects that live on the human scalp, feeding on human blood several times a day. These parasites make small bites in the scalp to suck blood and live off of human hosts. The bites do not hurt, but lice excrete a substance to prevent the blood from clotting, which can cause severe itching and allergic reactions. Without a host to feed on, lice will die within 1–2 days.
Lice resistance to Permethrin was reported as early as 1990 by doctors John D. Edman, Medical Entomologist, and John M. Clark, Insecticide Toxicologist, both at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Studies in recent years have asserted that up to 75% of lice strains are resistant to Permethrin and Pyrethroids, rendering treatments that contain those agents ineffective.
Because the lice are resistant to these pesticides, this often results in parents shampooing their children again and again with such products, a dangerous endeavor especially if parents are ignoring the shampoos’ own warnings of repeated use and time limits between treatments. According to The National Pediculosis Association (NPA), most of the OTC or prescription treatments used to kill lice contain “potentially harmful pesticides and reliance on them promotes repeated use and contributes to ongoing infestations, outbreaks, and resistant strains of head lice.”
Avoid Toxic Lice Products!
If you come across the words Pyrethrins and Permethrin, consider this: they are neurotoxins. Neurotoxins are exactly what they sound like – toxins that inhibit the functions of neurons. Neurons are found throughout the brain and nervous system, and the function of these cells is critical for a variety of tasks, ranging from autonomic nervous system jobs like swallowing to higher-level brain function. It would seem that the last place you would want to apply a neurotoxin is on your child’s head, wouldn’t it?