Lice-killing medication can be dangerous to your health -

Lice-killing medication can be dangerous to your health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says between six and 12 million children are infested with lice every year in the United States.

Parents often turn to over-the-counter medicines or prescriptions to get rid of these blood-sucking bugs. Consumer watch groups are now warning that some of these treatments could actually be worse than the lice itself.

Lice are tiny bugs and can require what's essentially a pesticide to kill them. They are usually discovered living in children's hair by a school nurse. 

Before you start lathering on a treatment, dermatologists say you should know what the active ingredient is and exactly how much of it you should use.

Lindane and Malathion are the most common chemical lice killers prescribed by doctors.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, Lindane is linked to cancer, seizures and even death. Malathion also carries a risk of seizures.

Permethrin is the most potent ingredient available in over-the-counter drugs, but it has also been linked to seizures.

All of these products are approved by the FDA and will kill these bugs quickly.

The problem arises when someone neglects to use them as directed.

Dermatologists say many adults mistakenly use too much of the product and they use it too frequently. Over-exposure to these insecticides can be dangerous to your health. 

If the lice aren't dying, you shouldn't use more of these products because experts say the lice are likely just becoming more resistant to various forms of treatment.

"Whenever something is common, there is always going to be use of medicine and eventually this medicine will be beaten by these organisms," said Dr. Coleman Altman with Charlotte Dermatology.

Dermatologists say the best way to beat lice is to follow the directions and painstakingly pick them out.

Some say mayonnaise, Vaseline and tea tree oil are a safe and natural alternative way to smother lice.

The National Pediculosis Association says while the risks associated with using these common household products are lower so, too, are their effectiveness in killing lice.

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