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Three quarters of parents want tougher penalties for those parents or guardians who take little or no action to combat head lice, according to a new survey of 2,000 people.

A quarter of those polled by leading head lice treatment Hedrin would welcome the introduction of fines for parents who don’t check their child’s hair regularly. Over a third (35%) would like children with head lice to be excluded from school until they have gone, whilst 18% feel the child should be allowed to continue at school but be kept in quarantine until the head lice have been dealt with.

In addition, one in five believe that parents who don’t deal with their child’s head lice should be named and shamed by the school, whilst 8% would like to take the dramatic step of naming and shaming them in the local media.

Christine Brown, nurse consultant and adviser to Primary Care Trusts in relation to policy for dealing with head lice, said: “Parents are clearly frustrated by head lice and this is understandable. However, rather than trying to assign blame, the key to combating head lice is for all parents to check regularly and take swift action when they are found. Checking the children’s heads for head lice should be a normal part of every family’s weekly routine.”

The survey also revealed that many myths surrounding the treatment of head lice still exist. Over half (54%) of parents incorrectly believe that head lice can jump, and the same figure mistakenly think that head lice can survive on hairbrushes, bed linen and hats. Further misunderstandings include 38% who don’t think that head lice can survive on short hair (as little as 1cm), 36% who assume head lice prefer clean hair and 18% who think pets can carry and pass them on.

The most common concerns that parents have when their children catch head lice are worrying that they will not be able to get rid of them (57%), concern that their child will be bullied (35%) and a fear that other parents will think badly of them (29%). In addition, 16% were worried that head lice would affect their child’s concentration and ability to learn whilst at school.

Christine Brown continues: “Having head lice is nothing to be embarrassed about. About one in seven children have lice at any one time as they are easily passed between people who spend a lot of time in close proximity. Easily digestible information about how to effectively identify and deal with head lice can all be found online at: www.onceaweektakeapeek.com. A free advice leaflet is available for parents and schools to order.”

Hedrin is a silicone-based lotion that effectively kills lice by smothering the insects, and thus disrupting their ability to manage water. Hedrin has a physical rather than chemical mode of action and so has benefits over conventional chemical insecticides, as resistance towards it cannot be built up. It is an odourless, colourless and pesticide-free formula and is kind to the hair and scalp. Hedrin is available in both a lotion (£4.99 for 50ml) and a spray format (£11.99 for 120ml) and is available from Boots and pharmacies nationwide.

Top Ten Head Lice Myths (by Christine Brown)

Myth: “Head lice jump from one head to another.”

Reality: Head lice can only be passed by direct head to head contact when they walk from one head to another – they can not ‘jump’ or “fly”!

Myth: “Head lice can be caught by sharing things like hairbrushes, towels or bedding.”

Reality: Head lice only survive on heads, dying quickly away from their heat and food source. Any lice found on hairbrushes, towels etc will be either dead or dying and so unable to infest a new host.

Myth: “Lice like to live in clean hair.”

Reality: This myth started out as “lice only live in dirty hair” but has changed over the years. Lice have no preference whether hair is clean or dirty as long as they can get to their dinner.

Myth: “Pets can carry them”

Reality: Head lice are a purely human parasite. They cannot infect cats, dogs, or other pets

Myth: “They can swim”

Reality: In water’ lice close down their bodily functions and cling on tight. They would die eventually but people couldn’t stay underwater for long enough for this to happen.

Myth “The best way to prevent your child from getting lice is to shave their head”

Reality: Lice live close to the scalp and are very small which means they can live on even the shortest hair. In fact, lice will find it easier to move from one closely cropped head to another as they have less distance to travel up the hair shaft. Never shave your child’s hair as a way of dealing with head lice; it only makes the child feel ashamed and you guilty.

Myth: “Break their leg, they can’t lay eggs

Reality: It takes a lot of force to remove a leg from a louse and more importantly, it makes no difference to the female’s ability to lay eggs. What you need to do is remove them from the head. Therefore, a better phrase would be ‘off the head, as good as dead.”

Myth: “Only children get head lice”

Reality: Head lice live just as well on adult heads as on children’s, so they can be easily spread between people of all ages

Myth: ““If one child in a school has them, there’s going to be an epidemic!”

Reality: Head lice can only be passed from direct head to head contact – which is why they usually spread between good friends and family. If a child has head lice there’s no reason for them to be kept away from school for fear of starting an epidemic, parents should simply tell their child not to ‘bump heads’ with their friends until their treatment is over.

Myth: “Schools still check children for head lice so parents don’t have to.”

Reality: “There are no more ‘nit nurses’ in schools. But parents and carers really are the best people to check their family’s hair for lice - once a week is ideal and the whole family should be checked, including adults.

Ends

Issued by: Pegasus Public Relations

On behalf of: Thornton & Ross

Press enquiries: Michelle Eastty 01903 821 550

Notes to editors: Further breakdown of statistics are available on request

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Pegasus Public Relations (Worthing) in the following categories: Children & Teenagers, Health, Women's Interest & Beauty, for more information visit https://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.