Pesticide Resistant Strain of Lice in Union County, NJ

Parents in Scotch Plains and neighboring towns have been battling a pesticide resistant strain of lice since the beginning of the year. While not uncommon, it is certainly frustrating for parents and children. Additionally, it re-allocates the precious time resources of the school nurse. Instead of dealing with the very important functions of medicine administration, caring for sick and injured students and completing State mandated paperwork, the nurse is forced to perform head lice screenings. There are a few issues with this:

  1. A visual inspection is not always perfect. It can’t be. This means that, despite spending hours doing these screenings, the nurse may well miss something.
  2. Relying on the school nurse allows parents to remove themselves from the process of lice detection. In fact, parents are crucial in this process and have the ability to do a far better job at home than the nurse can do in school.
  3. Parents assume that if lice is found in school, they will be notified about it by the nurse or administration and that is not always the case. It also makes parents feel that their responsibility to notify other parents of their child’s lice is nullified because they believe the school will notify their child’s classmates and friends.

Unfortunately, when a letter does come home from the school, the outmoded recommendation always included in that letter is to consult your doctor or pharmacist about lice “shampoos.” There is no such thing as a “shampoo” that kills lice. What is being referenced in that letter are the OTC pesticides that are found in every drug store in America. The truth is, they don’t work reliably anymore. Yes, some people have success with them. Sadly, far more people are experiencing treatment failure with them. Head lice in the US have become incredibly resistant to the pyrethroid pesticides found in drug stores. It is my personal and professional opinion that the resistance to these pesticides is behind the increasing frequency of longstanding outbreaks within communities.

The outcome of repeated treatment failures is this: children being repeatedly exposed to pesticides on their bodies (scalp) and parents who become so exasperated they stop trying, thus magnifying the problem. It is not necessary to pay for professional treatment, though some families may prefer this. NJ Lice Lady is a resource for parents who want to treat on their own as well as those who prefer a full-service approach. From our DIY, Head Lice 101 to simply being able to purchase a reliable, safe and non-toxic product along with a GOOD nit comb, I can help parents who have been struggling with head lice. You can reach me by email at


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