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Check out what's in that louse treatment as it will probably leave the parasites unscathed.

Byline: By Paul Rowland Western Mail

The most popular treatments for head lice are totally useless against the vast majority of the bugs, a Welsh study has claimed.

More than four out of five head lice in Wales are resistant to the chemical used in the majority of lotions and shampoos designed for treating nits, according to research by the National Public Health Service for Wales' Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre.

Nearly one in 10 pupils in Welsh primary schools are believed to suffer from head lice, and the research has prompted warnings they could be spreading unnecessarily quickly because they are not being treated correctly.

There are two main treatments for head lice, of which pyrethroids are more popular than malathion, because they require less application time.

But the study, which tested the products on head lice from children in 31 schools in Wales, found that 80% of the lice were totally unaffected by pyrethroids, which are used in most over-the-counter treatments.

Parents are now being advised to look at the substance in the treatment being used to avoid risking the spread of the bugs to fellow pupils and other adults because of a failure to treat them efficiently.

Daniel Taylor, of the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, claimed there should now be a major reassessment of how head lice are treated.

He said, 'What we have found is that there seems to be a high level of resistance to pyrethroids, and what we are suggesting is that if parents use that, they are less likely to be effective, and should look to another product, because it is contained in a large number of products.

'The levels of resistance were a lot higher and it seems to imply that if people try using these products, they will not be that effective.

'It's important for parents to look at what's in these products or ask their pharmacists for advice, because they will be able to advise over what the ingredients are.

'There are a number of these products which contain the same thing as the others, so switching between them will make no difference whatsoever in terms of killing the lice.

'Obviously the longer a child has head lice for, the more likely they are to pass them on to other children in their schools and to adults.

'A number of other treatments are available, although of course some are more effective than others - it's important to get something that works.'

The report, published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, said that malathion, which is used in products such as Derbac-M and Prioderm, should now be used as the 'first line treatment for head louse infection in Wales'.

But the report also admitted it was unclear whether the findings would translate to other parts of the UK because of variations in the type of chemicals used.

Of the 2,793 children screened for the study, live head lice were detected in 231 of them, with only 55 of the 316 head lice tested by the researchers found to be susceptible to pyrethroids, which include permethrin and phenothrin.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 15, 2006
Words:517
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