Pick your poison. Here are your choices among popular head lice treatments in stores everywhere. These poisons can be found as the active ingredient in popular over the counter and prescription head lice treatments.
PYRETHRIN -- Pyrethrin comes from the chrysanthemum flower. Though naturally derived, pyrethrins are still pesticides. The concern is that pyrethrins can cause pneumonia, muscle paralysis, death due to respiratory failure, vomiting, and asthma (But you can still get it in head lice treatments!).
PERMETHRIN -- As above, can cause pneumonia, vomiting, and asthma, muscle paralysis, death due to respiratory failure. NOTE: Harvard says lice have become resistant to permethrin in at least two areas in the U.S. See the story below!
MALATHION. Malathion can cause ... headaches, pain, numbness in extremities, dizziness, weakness, death due to respiratory failure and seizures.
LINDANE -- Lindane has been used for treating head lice for many years. It is not only a nerve poison but also a known carcinogen (cancer causing agent). Lindane is absorbed quickly through the skin.
A study by the World Resources Institute "provides disturbing evidence that exposure to many common pesticides damage the human immune system, weakening the body's resistance to infectious diseases and certain cancers. Children are particularly susceptible to the effects of pesticides on their immune systems. The risks of pesticide-induced immunosuppression are known to be greatest to infants and Children..."
The containers of these popular over-the-counter treatments are filled with cautionary statements. It's even a crime to use them without following directions. And for good reason (see above)! Until now, you didn't have a choice. New information tells us we should run, not walk from anything containing the poisons listed above.
Government Accounting Office releases study on kids and pesticides - January 4, 2000 Click here to read it.
Pesticide-Resistant Head Lice Found in US - Boston, MA, September 14, 1999 -- Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have verified what many parents have been screaming about for years: There are head lice in this country that are not susceptible to one of the most frequently used pediculicides (anti-louse insecticides). Are you surprised? Follow this link to see what Harvard has to say--
12/8/98 - A report was released some time back linking a pesticide with breast cancer. Most adults have fully developed immune systems. This new report makes you wonder what we don't know about pesticides and your kids with less developed immune systems. Following are some of the things we do know.
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Most recent revision Tuesday, July 17, 2001