Britain is facing a major nit epidemic with experts blaming the damp, warm weather – and the country’s head lice are more resilient than ever to conventional treatments.A study by Southern Illinois University found that creepy crawlies have developed a way to protect themselves against permethrin – the ingredient found in most over-the-counter head louse treatments that kill the mites.
Researchers found as well as the mild weather, centrally-heated, draught-free homes have created an explosion of head lice infestations across the UK. Dr Kyong Yoon, a member of the research team, warned that nits have been mutating to build up resistance for years. He added: “If you use a chemical over and over, these little creatures will eventually develop resistance. So we have to think before we use a treatment.”
Experts are warning parents not to turn to “dangerous” alternatives if shop-bought shampoo remedies don’t work. The National Pediculosis Association advised: “Never resort to dangerous remedies such as lindane, kerosene, or pet shampoos. Manual removal is crucial. Beyond snipping or pulling out the nits, you should also be screening for and removing live lice.”