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Sales of parasite treatments on the rise


Each year, as many as 12 million sets of parents come home to find their children frantically scratching their heads due to a head lice infestation. And that incidence appears to be on the rise, as sales of parasite treatments were up 7.3% to $163.7 million for the 52 weeks ended May 15 across total U.S. multi-outlets, according to IRI data.

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There are at least three trends shaping the business in head lice remedies today:

  1. An increase in pediculicide-resistant lice, dubbed “superlice,” are driving parents to more natural and homeopathic solutions. “Years of exposure to treatment have given rise to head lice with genetic mutations that make lice resistant to standard OTC medications,” stated Tanya Remer Altmann, a Nix spokeswoman. Prestige Brands in April released a “super” Nix, called Nix Ultra.

  2. More schools are relaxing or eliminating their “no-nit” policies. And that means there is a greater chance for reinfestation, especially in those states where “super lice” are rampant. “We talk to school nurses all across the country. ... They talk about that quite a bit. They know that’s driving some of the [lice] activity in the schools,” said Larry Burris, national sales manager at Tec Laboratories.

  3. The timing of head lice infestations isn’t limited to the school season. While back-to-school typically marks a spike in lice infestations in September and January, children going to summer camp and participating in summertime sports activities are potentially exposed to head lice, as well.

And social media may be to blame for driving the typical age associated with lice infestations. According to Wisconsin pediatrician Sharon Rink, teenagers putting their heads together for a selfie may be sharing more than just their photo on Snapchat.

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