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LICE PROBLEM REQUIRES HEAVY ARTILLERY

Q. I am desperate for a better lice treatment. My daughter came home from summer camp with lice. My son has caught them, and we are having an awful time trying to get rid of them.

I have used three different brands of lice shampoo on their heads, following the directions scrupulously, and have done all the vacuuming and washing that's recommended. These lice just laugh.

I asked the pediatrician about prescriptions for getting rid of lice, but he says they are no better than the over-the-counter products I have been using. I can't send my kids back to school if they have lice. They'll just be humiliated and sent home.

Are lice becoming resistant to the usual treatments? If so, what can we do to overcome this plague?

A. There is a growing suspicion, fueled by reports from Israel, the Czech Republic and Cambridge, Mass., that lice are becoming resistant to commonly used ingredients in lice shampoos.

Overcoming a lice infestation can be very frustrating and difficult. In "The Lice Buster Book" (Warner Books, $8.99), Lennie Copeland advises washing the hair with Prell shampoo and then using an entire bottle of Nix Creme Rinse for each person.

The whole family should be treated at the same time. Removal of nits with a fine-tooth comb is tedious but may be useful.

As a last resort, Neil Prose, a pediatric dermatologist at Duke Medical Center, suggests covering the hair with petroleum jelly at bedtime, putting on a shower cap to protect the pillow and washing the jelly out in the morning. A bit of Wisk may help with that chore. Keep it out of kids' eyes!

The grapefruit connection

Q. I love grapefruit juice, so I was anxious when I read in your column that it can interact with medicines. Neither my doctor nor my pharmacist thinks this is a problem.

I take Hytrin for blood pressure, Zocor for cholesterol, Coumadin to prevent blood clots and Viagra for obvious reasons. Are there interactions I should worry about?

A. People are surprised to learn that ingredients in grapefruit interfere with enzymes responsible for processing many medications. Levels of the cholesterol-lowering drug Mevacor (lovastatin) are 15 times higher when grapefruit is consumed. Similar drugs (Zocor and Lipitor) may also be affected and could become toxic.

Both Coumadin and the impotence pill Viagra are metabolized by the same enzymes, so they too may be affected. Coumadin also has a number of potentially serious interactions with other foods, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and liver.

People are becoming more aware of the grapefruit effect. Other drugs that may be affected include estrogen, cyclosporine, blood pressure medicine (Plendil, Procardia, Sular), Hismanal and Propulsid.

Wine on an empty stomach

Q. My daughter has an irritated stomach. She is in the habit of drinking wine when she gets home from work to relax before preparing dinner for her family. Is there any other alcoholic beverage that would be easier on her digestive tract?

A. Alcohol in any form is hard on the stomach. Your daughter should delay her wine till dinnertime, since food can be protective.

Write to Joe and Teresa Graedon in care of The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240. The People's Pharmacy radio show is heard Saturdays at 2 p.m. on WNED-AM.

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