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Parents taking 'desperate measures' to remove head lice

Parents are so desperate to eliminate head lice from their children that many resort to burning the lice with hair straighteners or shaving their child’s hair, a survey has found.

Vinegar, raw eggs, mayonnaise and even bleach were also revealed as regular “treatment” methods.

One in five parents admitted to shaving their child’s hair in an attempt to eliminate the lice − which afflict one in five children in the UK at any one time.

Alex Butler, a mother-of-three from Brighton, said: “I used hair straighteners on my daughter’s hair to pop the eggs and burn the lice, lots of the other mums at school swear by it.”

Nearly a quarter (23%) of parents turn to the internet for advice on the problem. Social media sites and parenting networks are used most commonly, as parents take their ‘school gate’ discussions online, seeking reassurance and advice from others going through the same thing.

“I’ve heard of mums dyeing their child’s hair, in an attempt to kill the lice”

Ian Burgess

But there is a lot of incorrect information online, which can offer dangerous and ineffective advice.

The survey findings come from an online audit conducted by head lice treatment brand Hedrin, in an effort to promote the sharing of best practice advice. The findings come from a survey of 10,000 parents carried out online in March.

Ian Burgess, director of the Medical Entomology Centre in Cambridge, said: “There is a huge amount of incorrect head lice information online, which exists on the more popular sites parents are visiting.

“This gives worried parents misplaced confidence in ineffective methods,” he said. “When they follow this advice, head lice are allowed to spread further and quicker.”

He added: “I’ve heard of mums dyeing their child’s hair, in an attempt to kill the lice. They believe this was effective because they can’t find lice, but in fact the lice have just been dyed along with the hair.”


Readers' comments (1)

  • When my children were at preschool one of the mums was using frontline on her kids. For anyone who is not aware frontline the the fluid you put on your cat's neck to kill fleas!! The preschool were very concerned anbd asked me to find out anythinbg i could. I called the company who said that she should stop immediatly as it could cause epilespy or worse in her child. We told her but she wasn't prepared to stop as she felt it really did keep the headlice away!! A few weeks later both of her kids attended preschool bald!! even the 3 year old girl!

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