Head lice

Updated 13 July 2016

US toddler dies after lice treatment goes wrong

In Massachusetts in the USA, a recent attempt to treat a case of head lice with a home remedy went horribly wrong.

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A western Massachusetts toddler died after suffocating while undergoing a home remedy for head lice involving mayonnaise and a plastic bag, according to police.

Mayonnaise and a plastic bag

Police in Springfield, about 90 miles west of Boston, responded to the 18-month-old girl's home after receiving a 911 call that a child was not breathing, said department spokesman Sergeant John Delaney. Officers found an adult administering CPR to the child, but medical personnel determined that the young girl had been dead for some time, he said.

The family had put the child to bed on Friday night with mayonnaise and a plastic bag on her scalp in an attempt to treat head lice, he said. As the infant slept, the bag apparently covered her face, suffocating her.

Read: Preventing head lice

"This is a very sad incident," Delaney said.

No charges have been filed, but the incident is under investigation by local and state officials. 

There is little data on whether home lice treatments involving fats are effective, according to the Massachusetts Department of Health. The department recommends using prescription and non-prescription medical shampoos.

Read more:  

What are head lice?

How to comb out head lice

20 head lice myths debunked