Treating head lice and nits
Head lice treatments: brands and prices
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Head lice treatments: brands and prices
Full Marks? Hedrin? Lyclear or Nitty Gritty? Head lice and nits brands compared
When you need to de-louse your child, a trip to your local chemist will see you faced with an array of different sprays, lotions and shampoos, all calling to you with various enticing claims – such as '10-minute treatment' or '100% effective in one go'. And with prices ranging from around £5 up to around £20, it can be hard to know which head lice treatment to choose.
To help arm you with some information before you hit the pharmacy, we've highlighted some of the top sellers for head lice treatments below, with a brief description of what they offer.
Prices are correct at the time of publication, based on the most expensive RRP given for October 2016. You may find the products for sale cheaper in different retailers.
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Derbac liquid is an insecticide that poisons live head lice, but it may not kill all the eggs (nits), as it's harder for the liquid to get inside them. The liquid is applied to dry hair until all the hair is moist, and the treatment needs repeating a week later.
The size of bottle you'll need will depend on the length of the hair. It's available in two sizes, costing from £5.49 for 50ml to £12.99 for a 200ml bottle.
Money saver: If you need to treat the whole family, it will work out cheaper (per ml) to buy the larger bottle.
The Full Marks range consists of a solution, a detector comb and a spray version of the solution. The products use a physical action to kill the head lice, which basically suffocates the head lice rather than poisoning them.
50ml of lotion is the recommended dose for one treatment.
Prices are listed as £6.99 for 100ml of solution, 11.99 for 200ml and £16.99 300ml, but all include a comb (which costs around £3 to buy separately.) The 150ml spray costs £12.99.
Money saver: The spray format may be convenient, but it's also the most expensive option based on cost per ml.
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Brand-leader Hedrin's range of treatments includes a standard lotion (applied to hair, dried, then washed out after eight hours), a 15-minute gel treatment (which is applied like a shampoo) and a mousse, which can be applied, dried with a hair dryer and then left to work while your child goes about their day.
All of these work using the physical-action method of killing the head lice – this suffocates the lice, rather than poisoning them.
Hedrin also sells 'Protect & Go' – a conditioning spray that it says prevents an infestation. The active ingredient, in a low dose, dissolves the waxy coating of the head lice, effectively dehydrating them. It needs to be used at least twice a week after normal hair washing, and costs between £4.29 and £7.29, depending on size.
Hedrin prices range from around £5.10 for 50ml of the lotion, which should last two applications (depending on hair length), to more than £17 for the 250ml gel spray of Hedrin Once.
Money saver: Based on cost per ml, the 250ml liquid sizes of Hedrin Once and Treat & Go are the cheapest formats. The Treat & Go spray and mousse might be easier to apply, but they are the most expensive formats. The 150ml version of the lotion is the cheapest to go for if you need to treat the whole family.
Lyclear has a wide range of products, including a creme rinse, spray, shampoo, and a lotion suitable for sensitive skin. Lyclear says its products use a physical action to suffocate and dehydrate the live and unhatched head lice.
Prices start from £5.49 for 59ml of creme rinse – which is enough for one 10-minute treatment of shoulder-length hair, used after usual shampooing. The most expensive product is nearly £15 for 200ml of 'sensitive lotion'. The 10-minute treatment shampoo costs £12.99, and can be used on dry hair. The 15-minute treatment spray costs £12.99 for 100ml and can also be used on dry hair.
Money saver: Based on RRP, the 200ml shampoo is the cheapest format to use; it's almost half the price (per ml) compared with the cost of the spray.
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Nitty Gritty, famous for its nit comb, is a pesticide-free treatment that can be bought as part of a kit, which includes a solution, a nit comb and a defence spray.
Nitty Gritty says the head lice defence spray can be used daily to help mask the hair's aroma, as head lice use a sense of smell to detect new hair. It claims the essential oils in the spray 'encourage head lice to stay on their existing host rather than migrate'.
Prices start at around £9 for a kit (which includes 150ml of solution), £11 for a 250ml defence spray and up to £29.99 for a complete kit including comb, solution and defence spray. The Nitty Gritty nit comb on its own costs £8.99. And if you have the comb already, you can buy the solution and defence spray for £19.99.
Free head lice treatments
The NHS Minor Ailments scheme is a service that some pharmacies offer. It is designed to make it easier to get treated for some minor ailments, by going straight to your pharmacy rather than getting an appointment with a GP, The service covers a range of minor ailments, including head lice.
This service is only for customers who are entitled to free prescriptions, so that would apply to children under 16, but it's not a nationwide scheme and isn't offered by all pharmacies. But, if your child has head lice, it could be worth checking locally to see if your pharmacy is part of the scheme.
The NHS says that the pharmacist is under no obligation to provide branded medication, though.