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
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 July 2017. 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. This product does have quite a strong smell to it, so you'll probably need to wash the hair with normal shampoo and conditioner to remove it.
The size of bottle you'll need will depend on the length of the hair. It's available in two sizes, costing from £6.99 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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Hedrin products work by using the physical-action method of killing the head lice – this suffocates the lice, rather than poisoning them. Their range of treatments includes:
- Treat & Go Lotion, Spray or Mousse (applied to hair, dried, then washed out after eight hours). It’s available in different application sizes (60ml does about two applications) and prices start at £6 and go up to £18.50 for 250ml.
- Once Spray Gel – a 15-minute gel treatment (which is applied like a shampoo) and then washed out. Prices start at £5.99.
- Protect & Go – a conditioning spray that claims to prevent 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. Prices start from £3.50.
- Stubborn Egg Loosening lotion – this is designed as a post-treatment option for the nits (dead eggs). It works by chemically releasing the bond between the egg and the hair shaft, lifting the egg and enabling it to slide off. Prices start from £4.99.
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 lotion, spray, shampoo, and a treatment suitable for sensitive skin. Lyclear says its products use a physical action to suffocate and dehydrate the live and unhatched head lice.
The lotion (100ml) costs from £6.99 and the spray (100ml and also includes a comb) costs £11.99. The 10-minute treatment shampoo (200ml) costs £13.99, and can be used on dry hair. The most expensive product is nearly £15 for 200ml of 'sensitive lotion'.
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 £10.99 for lotion and detection comb (the comb is white to make it easier to spot lice), £11.50 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 or you can buy the white detection comb for £1.99. 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.