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'Lice ladies' get ahead of the bugs ... using olive oil

CHEMICALS won't kill them. Forget slash and burn - the scorched earth approach won't work. They are mutating, super-resistant, and they are breeding somewhere near you.

But enough about politicians. Head lice are almost as bad. And now help is at hand that doesn't involve rubbing the heads of your loved ones with a cocktail of deadly poisons.

Joan Sawyer and Roberta MacPhee - the self-styled Lice Ladies - today publish Head Lice to Dead Lice, a self-help manual for getting rid of the school scourge the non-toxic way. And, no, it doesn't mean shaving scalps (that doesn't work either).

All you need is a metal comb, some white towels, hair clips, shower caps and bandanas - oh, and lashings of olive oil. Just smear it all over the hair for eight hours and the little buggers suffocate (the lice, that is). After that, you comb out the survivors and their eggs and make sure the house is clean.

It's part-instruction book, part-treasury of lice-related facts and part-diary of one family's (unsuccessful) battle against lice by chemical warfare. Pesticide shampoos are becoming less effective as the bugs become resistant.

Nor are old wives' tales to be recommended. One remedy found by the authors suggested dousing the head in kerosene. "Do not smoke," the booklet helpfully added.

So when the first critters are seen in the classroom, as they surely will come September, you'll know what to do: pass the olive oil. It doesn't have to be extra virgin, cold-pressed or infused with aromatic herbs.

And balsamic vinegar is optional.

"Head Lice to Dead Lice", by Joan Sawyer and Roberta MacPhee, is published by Newleaf at pound;6.99. A video is also available

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