How Telemedicine Services Can Treat Super Lice

September 9th, 2016

Lice are parasitic insects that live in the hair on your head, including eyebrows and eyelashes, and are exclusive to humans – animals do not spread head lice. A genetic change has made “super lice” resistant to pyrethroids, insecticides contained in common over-the-counter (OTC) treatments used to get rid of lice. A recent study conducted throughout the U.S. found these resilient bugs in 25 states. Lice spread by direct contact with infected hair and sometimes by sharing clothing or hairbrushes recently used by a person with lice. They crawl but cannot hop or fly.

Finding out that your child has head lice can be terrible, but when the new breed of super lice was discovered in 2015, it became much more important to react quickly. Regular lice would rarely require you to take your child to the doctor’s office. The symptoms of head lice include feeling movement in the hair and scalp, feeling itchy, irritable, and having trouble sleeping. Inspecting the scalp and hair follicles is simple. Lice can be seen, but it is easier to notice the little white nits (eggs) after observing some head scratching.

The standard treatment is to kill the lice and remove the eggs using an (OTC) medicated shampoo and combing out the nits with a small comb. Instructions need to be followed closely and all clothing, bedding, and cloth toys the child has recently used should be laundered using hot water or dry cleaned. If this action fails, you may be dealing with super lice. Since they are resistant to these medications, you will need to make an appointment with a doctor to receive a prescription instead.

Immediate treatment is the best way to keep lice from spreading to others at school and at home and it is not always easy to find time during your busy day. Telemedicine allows you to video chat with a board certified doctor face-to-face in less than an hour, any day of the week, at any time of the day.

Getting Started

You will need to register online with a telemedicine service using your computer, tablet, or smartphone and answer some general health questions just like you would at an office visit. You will need the following information:

  • insurance information,
  • primary care doctor information and any specialists you may have seen,
  • any allergies to medications you may have, and
  • a computer or a free mobile phone device app for video streaming

Prepare a list of questions you may have for the doctor as well as when the symptoms first began and what they are, even if they are seemingly unrelated to head lice such as fever, stiffness, diarrhea, or rash. The doctor will want to know your child’s temperature which you can take during your video chat consultation if you have not already recently done so. Have your usual pharmacy’s contact information available.

The Appointment

You begin with a face-to-face video chat with a board certified physician licensed in your state. The doctor will ask you some questions regarding symptoms and visually assess you or your child’s appearance relating to scalp and hair. The doctor may ask you to examine your child’s hair and describe what you are seeing.
Because the difference between regular lice and super lice cases is only the need for a prescription, the doctor will want to know if your child still has lice after having completed an (OTC) treatment before determining it to be a resistant strain. If you have already been through this process, you will take the next step.

In just minutes, you will have a diagnosis and a prescription to fill and begin a comprehensive treatment plan to prevent further infestation. The prescription can be sent electronically to the pharmacy of your choice for immediate pick-up.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends telling children not to share items that come in contact with hair. All children will be checked for lice if there is an outbreak at school whether they are complaining of itching or not in order to catch symptoms as early as possible.

The advent of telehealth has made it much easier to take care of many smaller medical issues quickly before they become bigger problems. Scheduling office visits, clearing your calendar to get there, sitting in the waiting room, and then waiting your turn for the doctor’s assessment is all very time-consuming. Now your needs can be dealt with in minutes.

Sources and Links:

Dunlap, Tiare, 2016. Super Lice Outbreak Hits 25 States: What You Need to Know,

  • Urgent Care, How Telemedicine Can Treat Super Lice, 2016.

  • Talk with a Doctor