Parents are tearing their hair over head lice, so much so that they’re turning to risky DIY treatments to rid their kids of nasty nits.
Any mum and dad who has a children of school age will no doubt verify that head lice are one of the most irritating aspects of parenthood.
But new research has revealed parents are so desperate to see their children nit-free they’re opting to forgo conventional treatments in favour of at-home remedies such as garlic, mayonnaise and lavender oil.
A new survey by head lice treatment provider, Hedrin polled 1,000 parents and found three in four don’t know how to properly treat the issue.
As a result they’re turning to drastic measures with one in 25 parents attempting to use hair straighteners to try and burn the lice, and one in three actually cutting or shaving their child’s hair to rid them of bugs.
Meanwhile, around 3% have used garlic oil to treat their child’s nits and one in 50 have even tried rubbing mayonnaise onto their child’s head.
The problem is that according to experts these DIY efforts aren’t doing anything to free their children from the pests.
"Discovering a head lice infestation can be distressing for parents and cause them to panic,” Head lice expert Ian Burgess, director of the Medical Entomology Centre told Telegraph.
“The desperation to rid their children of lice in the quickest way possible may result in them trying 'old wives' tales', such as covering the head in mayonnaise or tea tree oil shampoo, but there is no evidence they are effective in eradicating head lice."
What are head lice?
According to the British Association of Dermatologists The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) head lice are usually picked up by head-to-head contact; it takes about 30 seconds for a single louse to transfer from one scalp to another.
But even though it is less common sharing hats, combs or pillows can also spread them.
Head lice live only on humans and die in a day or two away from the human scalp. They cannot be caught from animals.
More than half of all 4 to 11 year-olds catch head lice every year, while symptoms often include an itchy scalp or feeling that your scalp is moving, some people don’t report any symptoms.
How to treat head lice
So if mayonnaise and garlic don’t work what should parents be doing to get rid of head lice?
According to Shamir Patel, founder of Chemist 4 U one of the best ways to get rid of head lice is by a process known as wet combing.
“The only DIY treatment I would recommend is conditioner and wet combing," he tells Yahoo UK.
"Head lice can be removed by applying plenty of any type of hair conditioner to dry hair and then combing to remove live lice and eggs.
Patel explains that the conditioner makes it hard for the lice to move and traps them in the teeth of the comb.
“It also detangles hair, making combing easier," he adds.
The NHS advice says this method should be tried first.
It should take approximately 10 minutes to comb short hair, and 20 to 30 minutes for long, frizzy or curly hair.
The site advises to continue wet combing on days 1, 5, 9 and 13 to catch any newly hatched head lice before checking again that everyone's hair is free of lice on day 17.
If you’ve tried wet combing for 17 days and your child is still not nit-free, the NHS says you should ask a pharmacist for advice.
“They may recommend using medicated lotions and sprays,” the site explains.
“These kill head lice in all types of hair, and you can buy them from pharmacies, supermarkets or online.”
But in recent years there has been concerns that head lice could be becoming immune to certain treatments.
Back in 2016, a US study revealed that 98 per cent of head lice have developed a resistance to pyrethrins and permethrins - the active ingredients in most remedies available in pharmacies.
A change in NHS England guidance means GPs are now routinely prevented from prescribing treatment for the parasites, causing the health charity Community Hygiene Concern to predict that low-income families could be hit hardest.