Chemical-resistant 'super lice' a growing problem

MERCER ISLAND, Wash. - As if ordinary lice weren't bad enough, there's a new emerging strain called "super lice" - and the KOMO Problem Solvers have learned it's a growing problem.

Some experts say 60 percent of all lice are now super lice, which means they're resistant to chemicals used to treat them.

A visit to Lice Knowing You, a Mercer Island business, shows that lice is a problem for a number of families. This lice removal salon's been in business for seven years now.

In one room sits a child, getting lice combed out of her hair.

In the adjacent treatment room, a mother and daughter soak their hair in natural oils as founder Nancy Gordon combs through a head of hair.

Showing off a white paper towel full of specs, Gordon says, "I just caught that off that girl's head."

The little blood suckers were hanging onto hair shafts until Gordon combed them out.

This is what she and her trained staff are good at - tackling a job most parents don't even want to think about. In fact, business is so good that Gordon has opened six clinics and is about to open another one in Kitsap County.

Surveying bugs combed out of a mother's hair, Gordon says, "That's a bug, and there's a couple little babies in here. Most of these are just eggs."

Left alone, lice eggs hatch in 7 to 10 days. And in 21, they're laying eggs of their own.

Some experts say today's super lice have been able to alter their egg-laying and hatching cycles to avoid conventional treatment schedules. Their exoskeletons may also be thicker than generations past.

"They've got claws. They grip onto the hair. They move 9 inches per minute on a hair shaft," Gordon says.

She trains each member of her team to carefully remove every last bit of lice on a head.

If you'd rather do it yourself, you can use one of her removal kits made entirely of natural ingredients.

The KOMO Problem Solvers has also learned that some insurance plans will pay for lice removal. Check with your provider, and you might also be able to use your flexible spending plan.

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