Frustrated Rotorua parents are playing "Russian roulette" with their children's lives by treating head lice with dangerous animal flea products.
Products being used have warnings on them stating they can be dangerous if absorbed into the skin. One product states it has Fenthion in it, which is a cholinesterase inhibitor, which can alter DNA.
A Rotorua veterinarian clinic says the product can kill an animal if the dose isn't right.
A Rotorua mother, who doesn't want to be identified, said she resorted to using the animal treatment on her young daughter after continous infestations and months of treatments. She is one of four spoken to by the Rotorua Daily Post who admit using animal treatments on their kids. The other parents didn't want to discuss it further.
She said other parents at daycare and school weren't treating their kids, resulting in her child being re-infested weekly.
"Other parents don't care and just leave their kids to live with them. I know this is true because even some of my own family and friends ...
have told me they have just given up."
After first trying it on other family members and herself, she treated her daughter with "fantastic" results, she said.
"I don't feel good about using any sort of poison on my family but I was beside myself with frustration and guilt because I couldn't keep my beautiful girl free of filthy kutus ... I never thought I'd mess with something so dangerous but in the end I was going mad and just felt I had to do something no matter how drastic."
VetPlus Rotorua receptionist Maureen Wallace said she had many queries from parents wanting to buy de-flea products to treat their children but they refused to sell it to them.
"They are playing Russian roulette with their kids' lives. We tell them 100 per cent 'no - this is for animals only'," she said.
Bay of Plenty Medical Office of Health Dr Phil Shoemack said it was unwise to use products which weren't registered or tested for human use such as flea treatments.
Any risks to humans were unknown so these products shouldn't be used, he said.
"No one knows what it can do to a child."
Pharmacy 44 pharmacist Ian Edward said people needed to remember there was more to tackling the problem of a lice infestation than simply spraying or using headlice shampoo.
The critters will return unless the eggs are eliminated.
"It's about the method of use," he said. "The old fashioned way of combing the hair strand by strand is the crucial element. Using the shampoo alone is not a magic cure on its own ... it's a time-consuming task."