Caroline Scott’s substantial article on head lice in Tuesday’s Daily Mail is a very clear analysis of how parents – especially mums – are peddled false hope by head lice products under the guise of ‘expert’ advice, whilst spending £33 million a year for the pleasure.

It was a healthy break from the usual narrative around head lice because it gave further in-depth explanation as to why this problem just simply won’t go away. Scott writes about Clara who has, ‘tried every product on the market without success ranging, from tea-tree and herbal shampoos to some really nasty chemicals’. At The Hairforce – Lice Assassins, a unique nit and head lice clearing service based in London we see this same experience repeated amongst our substantial client base.

One of the accusations levied at mums is that somewhere in every class there is a mum that doesn’t care about head lice, and because she doesn’t tackle it everyone else’s efforts are undermined. What we see, and what Scott’s article verifies, is that mums try very hard to do something about head lice but the products they are using on the back of expert advice are letting them down. If as the article lays bare, products are often backed by poor evidence; deeply flawed research (investigate the base sizes of much of the research and you will be shocked how low they are); and more worryingly research – and therefore the ‘impartial’ experts behind that research – is funded by the drug companies themselves, you see an equivalent to a Ponzi scheme with concerned parents as the losers.  As Scott concludes, ‘It’s an ideal market to sell expensive products that don’t quite work.’

We see the really unacceptable face of this when we clear heavy infestations. The worst case we have ever seen is of a 6 year old girl whose very serious infestation had been tackled by her GP with repeated prescriptions of dimeticone over a long period of time. What we found was a child whose hair was brittle, whose scalp was scarred, and most distressingly whose hair was simply coming away in places when you attempted to nit comb – and who was still riddled with head lice. Repeated uses of dimeticone hadn’t solved anything and had literally siliconed the nits so firmly onto the hair that you couldn’t get all of them off. You may criticise the mother in your head when you read this, but she made repeated trips to her GP for help and with his help put her faith in a product.

Some would say our service is also an expensive option. However, ‘we do exactly what we say on the tin’ – we guarantee to shut it all down and end the infestation. In just 2 appointments, 7 days apart – 2.5 hours of intense, forensic work – we remove everything, cutting off the development process. In contrast a parent can be many weeks, often months, and sometimes years struggling to keep it under control themselves. That invariably involves a lot of product – and at the price of the products, that can add up to well in excess of our prices. Others who use our service would say it is the best money they have ever spent after having lived the months or years scenario. And really that’s the point of what we do – to deliver something that is honest, transparent and effective because mums need proper support and positive results not empty promises.

We use unique controlled, heated air technology with the LouseBuster™ to dehydrate the nits in order to speed up the whole process, but we also do what Scott advocates – we remove all the nits (the eggs), because at the heart of shutting down an infestation you need to get those nits out of the hair. The products would have you believe that isn’t necessary because they want you to keep using them, time and time again.

We aren’t advocating everyone should use us, because we know that isn’t possible or feasible, but what we would advocate is that mums consider the seriousness of Scott’s article. At the end of the day Hedrin Once have used the following line in their TV campaign for a reason – ‘Hedrin Once could kill head lice and their eggs’ – because the advertising regulators who caution against unsubstantiated promises would have made them.

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