COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Lice, you can barely say the word without having to scratch your head, and now experts are saying the bug could cause even more problems for families across the U.S.
New research shows lice populations in some states have developed high resistance to treatment. The American Chemical Society announced Tuesday that at least 25 states, including Georgia and Alabama, have lice populations with high levels of gene mutations, which make them resistant to traditional treatments that have been used for years and years.
"Lice always seems to come up in the late summer and early fall as we start school," said Dr.Glenn Harnett with American Family Care.
The CDC estimated up to 12 million infestations will cause scratchy heads for kids and big headaches for parents each year, and now getting rid of them may be harder than ever.
"Up to 25 to 50 perfect of lice infestations are actually resistant to the current over the counter treatments," said Dr. Harnett.
Local health experts say they usually treat the bug with over the counter products and shampoos, "They have a component in them called pyrethrin which is the active ingredient that actually kills the lice," said Dr.Harnett, but now a doctor's visit and heavier prescription treatment might be needed.
A lot of parents keep their kids home from school if their child gets infected with lice, but health experts say you should also avoid public places like parks for example, where they could have direct contact with other children.
Experts say any head-to-head contact with someone infected can pass the bugs to you. They explain, if you get the itches, don't lose hope; there are harsher chemicals on the market to tackle mutant lice strands if one makes its home on you or your child's head.
Doctors say your phone can also be to blame for the spread of lice. They say leaning into pictures to take a "selfie" has been a rising culprit of spreading the infestation among teens.
The CDC reports that children between the ages of three and 11 are the most at risk for getting lice.