Newswise — A recent study reported that lice populations (now dubbed “super lice” by the media) in at least 25 states have developed resistance to Pyrethroids, an over-the-counter treatment product used to treat lice.

Lice do not carry any diseases. Lice aren’t a reflection of poor parenting or sloppy housekeeping. Although there has been resistance found in over-the-counter products, there are several prescription products available that are effective in treating lice. You can also remove them manually with a fine tooth comb or use a commercial hair treatment service, which is effective but often expensive.

So what should you do if you get the dreaded note from school saying that there are lice in the classroom or your child has been identified with lice?

1. No child should be sent home from school early. Lice move by crawling (not flying or hopping) so as long as the teacher keeps the kids’ heads apart, there shouldn’t be any further spread.

2. Remember that people are often wrong in the diagnosis of lice. Lice are most accurately diagnosed when one sees a live louse moving. Seeing nits, or lice eggs, within a ¼ inch of the scalp suggests that a person has lice, but does not confirm a lice infestation. If the nits are more than ¼ inch from the scalp it is probably an old infection or not lice at all. People often call dandruff or dirt, lice.

3. If you think your child might have lice, call your pediatrician to see if you need a prescription for treatment. Sometimes your doctor will prescribe over the phone, or she may want you to come in to make sure your child does have lice before prescribing, because it really can be tricky to diagnose.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics have detailed information about treating your child, family, bedding and toys. Dr. Karen Sheehan is a general pediatrician and a pediatric emergency medicine specialist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

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