Panicked parents are using old wives’ treatments like garlic, lavender oil and mayonnaise to try to get rid of head lice in their children, a report has found.
Nearly three out of four parents of the 1,000 surveyed do not know what basic treatments the NHS recommends for getting rid of head lice – also known as nits – with one in three opting for drastic measures like cutting or shaving their children’s hair instead.
Around one in 25 parents have used hair straighteners to try to burn the lice, while around one in 33 used garlic oil and one in 50 have tried rubbing mayonnaise onto their children’s heads, a survey carried out for head lice treatment shampoo Hedrin found.
Official NHS advice is to treat anyone in the family who has been infested by using a fine nit comb to go through their wet hair for 17 days.
If lice are still present after this, parents should then try a medicated shampoo sold in pharmacies or supermarkets. There is no need to pre-emptively treat people in the family who are not infected or to see a GP.
Head lice expert Ian Burgess, director of the Medical Entomology Centre, said: “Discovering a head lice infestation can be distressing for parents and cause them to panic. 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.”