Recently I received a dreaded call—the lice call. My first-grader with beautiful, flowing, long hair was possibly exposed to someone with lice! I wasn’t sure what to do, so I headed to the local pharmacy to pick up a lice kit. I wanted to arm myself against any new little friends setting up house in my little girl’s head. After speaking with the pharmacist, I purchased the Nix, Lice treatment Creme Rinse kit.

It is extremely important to read every label of the products we use. On the side of the Nix box there is a warning stating; “Ask a doctor before use if you are allergic to ragweed. May cause breathing difficulty or an asthmatic episode.”

As someone with asthma and a ragweed allergy, I wanted a better understanding of the active ingredients in this product. So what is in Nix Crème Rinse that causes this reaction? I contacted the  Nix consumer group and regulatory department and learned that the active ingredient in the product is Permethrin, a synthetic version of pyrethrin. Pyrethrin is derived from chrysanthemums, which is a direct relative to ragweed. Though it is uncommon for this synthetic version to cause an asthmatic episode, it can happen.

A study on Permethrin Crème Rinse was done by using products containing this synthetic pyrtherin.  The study’s results found that 1.0-3.5 adverse events per 1,000 patients proved that this reaction is uncommon, but it is still important to watch the use of this product in someone with a ragweed allergy.

Nix consumer group actually suggested NOT using this product if an allergy exists and utilize Nix Ultra with active ingredients of Dimethicone (silicone-based polymer) and mineral oil.

After this scare, I have spoken to numerous parents regarding their treatment options, and one mother turned to the Nuvo method, which is a non-toxic option that uses Cetaphil to suffocate the lice and eggs.

Another method recommend for asthmatics is repeated wet combing with the use of a lice comb.

Lice cause a real itchy situation in homes, but it is important that during the anxiety of treatment and cleaning, you don’t forget about other underlying issues such as asthma.  Whatever method you use, always be careful using products on children—especially ones with asthma and allergies. Please read your labels and don’t be afraid to ask questions.