Girl Left With Horrific Facial Burns After Head Lice Treatment Burst Into Flames

14/08/2014 16:49 | Updated 22 May 2015

Little girl fought for her life after head lice lotion set her head and face alight

A young girl was left fighting for her life with severe facial and head burns after a head lice shampoo burst into flames in her hair.

Jodie O'Donoghue, now 10, is still having treatment following the incident back in 2007. She had the Prioderm product in her hair after her parents treated her and her 12-year-old sister Jasmine for a lice outbreak. As she blew out a candle at the family home in Tipperary, Ireland, the lotion ignited, setting her hair, cheeks and ears alight.

Jodie's dad Phil, 45, frantically tried to smother the flames, and eventually doused Jodie in water.

The little girl was then rushed to hospital for specialist burns treatment.

Her devastated mum Nichola, 44, said that the accident could have been so much worse.

"Jodie was only seconds away from burning everything on her face," she said. "Any longer and she would have lost her eyes and her whole face would have been gone. Her sister had the same treatment on her hair and the same thing could have happened to her. It was awful."

Little girl fought for her life after head lice lotion set her head and face alight

Jodie, who was four at the time, was kept under heavy sedation in hospital for six weeks while doctors carried out skin grafts to her cheeks and forehead. Her mum spoke of her anguish at seeing her daughter go through all the treatment.

"They took the skin from her head so they had to shave her hair off. It was horrible," Nichola told the Sun. "This was my little baby girl. She was such a beautiful girl people would swoon over her. She was absolutely perfect."

Following her surgery, Jodie endured taunts from the public whenever she went out and still bears signs of her injuries.

"Originally her face looked like red candle wax. We couldn't go into a shop without people staring, pointing and even shrieking. Every time we went out I felt like I was being stabbed in the heart," her mum revealed.

"Luckily her features have recovered and her eyebrows and eyelashes have grown back. She does have an area where the hair has not been able to grow back, but this is hidden by hair that falls over the top of it."

Jodie, who is now 10, is still receiving treatment six years after her ordeal.

"Only now has she been able to talk about what happened," Nichola said. "She couldn't look at any pictures of her face. She has been through so much. It is so difficult for her to talk about it. The worst place to have a scar is on your face. She is so lucky that the rest of her face will heal."

Nichola has started legal action against the makers of the lice shampoo, which has so far resulted in the production of Prioderm being halted.

"I want them to take responsibility for producing such a dangerous product and to compensate us for our costs in her treatment, our trauma and for Jodie," she said.

A spokesman for Reckitt Benckiser who make the lotion said the product has not been withdrawn from the market, and there are no safety issues associated with it when used in accordance with the instructions.

"Its manufacture is currently halted, along with a number of other products made on the same site, because of a technical issue, but that does not relate to any safety issues with the product," the company's representative said.

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