Schools face a headlice epidemic this winter due to NHS treatments being axed, charity warns

A measure designed to save the NHS £100 million a year sees GPs being banned from prescribing “Bug Buster” kits – which cost the health service £4.92 each.

The itchy bugs are likely to go round schools like wildfire, Community Hygiene Concern said, because poorer families won’t be able to pay the £13 needed for over-the-counter insecticides.

A 2016 US study found 98% of headlice had developed resistance to non-prescribed remedies, while a study of 200 British children found almost 50% had caught lice in the past five years.

Frances Fry, a spokeswoman for Community Hygiene Concern told the Observer: “Not everyone can afford to repeatedly buy head-lice treatments, which are very, very expensive and can be ineffective.”

She added: “Children whose parents cannot afford the treatments will be victimised and bullied, and all the judgements and stigmas will return.”

An NHS England spokesman said: “This will free up to £100m to reinvest in better mental health, cancer and A&E services.

“Clinical experts advise head lice can be safely and effectively treated by wet combing, with chemical treatment only recommended in exceptional circumstances.”

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Have you ever seen headlice this bad?

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