12/09/2017 14:13 BST

How To Prevent Head Lice: Parents Hit Back At Claims They 'Can't Be Bothered' To Treat Nits

'I used everything possible to get rid of them.'

Parents have dismissed claims they are “not bothering” to treat head lice.

Parasitologist Ian Burgess, director of the Medical Entomology Centre, and his team conducted tests in a primary school in Cambridgeshire before this year’s summer holidays.

He said around 8% of the children had head lice. The school gave parents of kids with nits vouchers worth £10 to collect a treatment of their choice from a pharmacy. Burgess said only a quarter of the vouchers were cashed in. 

In response to his findings, Burgess said, according to the Mail: “People are putting up with them for much longer than they would have done in the past. It could be that they don’t want to use a treatment or they simply can’t be bothered.”

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However, Burgess’ study results come from just one primary school in Cambridgeshire, so are not a reflection of parent’s habits across the country.

And parents who did not take up the voucher may be using other means to treat their child’s head lice or, have simply forgotten to use - or lost - the voucher when purchasing head lice treatment.

We asked parents on our HuffPost UK Parents Facebook page their opinions on head lice treatment and the overwhelming view was that they will do whatever they can to get rid of them.

“I would always treat,” one mum wrote. “They are uncomfortable for a child and can result in sores developing from the child scratching. No child should be left in pain or discomfort.”

Rather than going for shop-bought treatment, others had tried home remedies.

Cheap conditioner and a nit comb.

“My daughter had caught head lice just before her first day of school and I was mortified,” wrote one mum. “I told the school straight away and used everything possible to get rid of them.

“What worked best was an amazing nit comb and a lot of cheap conditioner, combing hair through once it was drowned in conditioner every day until no more signs of lice.”

Tea tree shampoo.

“We just use a Vosene tea tree shampoo and check the hair every other day,” one mum wrote. “We’ve been fortunate so far and caught them, but I’ve spoken to other parents who have tried everything and spent a fortune on different treatments [without success].”

And another mum commented: “Tea tree shampoo and conditioner always worked for me. I always used it on my kids to clear head lice.”

Vinegar or lemon.

“I don’t use shop-bought nit lotion,” wrote another. “I use vinegar or lemon and check twice a week.

“My children haven’t got nits this year.”

Responding to the comments, Burgess told HuffPost UK: “I don’t doubt that your Facebook page responders would unanimously say they treat because they are concerned.

“However, I suspect that some of those who don’t take up the voucher option would not be readers of HuffPost UK. 

“After all, the option does allow people to choose whatever treatment they want so, apart from stupid stuff like vinegar and olive oil ‘home options’ that have been shown by other researchers to have no real effect, they are obviously deciding for one reason or another not to make an intervention. 

“They could even obtain a comb if that is what they want. So unless one of your readers can explain why up to 50% of people turn their noses up at a £10 voucher, I shall stick by my conclusion that those people have chosen not to treat – and going back into the schools a short time later tends to confirm it because the numbers of cases has not gone down.”

For more information on treating and preventing head lice, read our guide here.

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