Updated on April 9, 2017
Dr. Stephen Beck, a board certified physician, is LiceDoctors' on-staff medical director. We asked Dr. Beck to answer some frequently asked questions about head lice.
Interviewer: Dr. Beck, when did you decide that chemical lice treatments were not effective in the eradication of head lice?
Dr. Beck–Twenty years ago when patients came to my office with complaints of head lice, I used to prescribe over-the-counter chemical treatments and then prescription lice treatments but patients reported that the treatments were not working. In addition, there were concerns about applying pesticides on the heads of young children. Young children are particularly susceptible to lice and parents are understandably reluctant to use pesticides on their young children.
Interviewer: Why were the treatments ineffective?
Dr. Beck–Over time, lice were becoming heartier and increasingly resistant to the pesticides. The treatments are supposed to affect the nervous system of the lice but the lice were becoming immune. I decided to devote time to learning about lice treatment protocols that would work.
Interviewer: How did you go about doing that?
Dr. Beck–I researched a lot of information from the Harvard School of Public Health with respect to the life cycle of the louse and I realized that treatment plans must target and eliminate lice at all stages of the life-cycle.
Interviewer: What are important aspects of effective lice removal processes?
Dr. Beck–It was clear that the eggs had to be taken out by hand because none of the treatments affected the eggs. That is a very labor-intensive process and it requires practice and patience as the eggs are very small and blend in with the hair. In addition, since the pesticides did not work, you need an alternative route to kill the bugs such as suffocation. Lice and nits range in size depending on their maturity.
Interviewer: What do lice and nits look like?
Dr. Beck— Adult lice have 6 legs but no wings and are brown. Lice can be challenging to see in the hair as they hide and if they move, they do so very fast. Nits range in size from microscopic when first laid to about the size of a sesame seed when mature. Nits have an oval shape with a pointy front and an antenna. They have a translucent shell that encase a brownish baby bug (nymph) inside. They are glued to the hair shaft about ¼ of an inch from the scalp.
Interviewer: What can you do to prevent lice?
Dr. Beck– Children with long hair should wear it pulled up and cover it with a lice prevention spray or hair spray or gel. These add a protective coating over the hair which makes it more difficult for the lice to adhere to the hair. LiceDoctors Lice Repellent Spray has the added benefit of having a peppermint scent which helps to repel lice. Having said that, there is no way to absolutely prevent your child from getting lice. LiceDoctors treats families in Solano County and in several other California areas. LiceDoctors has helped over 250,000 clients and has an “A” rating with the Better Business Bureau. The service is available day and night, 365 days a year. Call 415-578-1245 for an appointment so that we can help you today.