Over-the-counter meds don't kill mutant lice

Every year, head lice invade 6 million to 12 million American heads of hair. At a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston Tuesday, scientists announced that lice in 25 of the 30 states they sampled have evolved.

"The over-the-counter treatments are useless." said Dr. Michael Smith, chief medical editor of WebMD.

Lice all over America have mutated.

"Which means the drug is doing nothing, so the lice are just thriving in this environment," Dr. Smith said.

And by "this environment," smith means the hair on your head, where mutant lice might now thrive.

"I probably spent over $300 in over-the-counter products," said Laurie Coleman. She discovered that the chemical in all over-the-counter lice-killers no longer affects the mutant louse forcing those with heads full of bugs to seek other options.

"All these little spots are eggs and then, for example, that right there is a bug," said Kristen Hollingsworth, who specializes in lice-killing. She works at the Lice Clinic of America in Danvers, Massachussets, where she sees plenty of bugs that care not about exposure to over-the-counter rubs, sprays, or shampoos.

Hollingsworth extracts those drug-resistant bugs and their eggs by hand and then uses a heat gun to kill any stragglers left behind.

Still, doctors say we should not expect lice to overtake our nation or its heads of hair. Prescription treatments still kill these mutants.