When you need to delouse your child, a trip to your local chemist will see you faced with an array of sprays, lotions and shampoos, all calling to you with 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.
Below are popular brands of nit and head lice treatments used by parents, with information on the type of products available within that brand and the typical price.
Look out for deals and offers in pharmacies and supermarkets on head lice products during August and September, which are traditionally 'peak' head lice periods due to children going back to school.
Prices are correct at the time of publication, based on the most expensive RRP given for September 2021.
According to the Acu-Life website, the brand's combs have been used by school nurses for more than 50 years.
Sadly, school nit nurses are now something of a rarity, but the combs still prove popular with parents because they have long teeth to catch the lice and are good value.
It will cost you £9 for a 200ml bottle.
Hedrin products work by physically killing head lice – suffocating, rather than poisoning, them. There's a wide range of treatment options, including:
Based on cost per ml, the 250ml liquid sizes of Hedrin Once and Treat & Go are the cheapest options. The Treat & Go spray and mousse might be easier to apply, but they're the most expensive formats. The 250ml version of the lotion is the cheapest to go for if you need to treat the whole family, and it's often on special offer during September.
The five-minute waiting time for definitely makes it one of the speedier treatments on the market. It claims to be effective in one use, but there's an asterisk next to this claim, and if you read the small print on the back of the packaging, you'll see it states you should 'repeat above [treatment] steps on days 7 and 14 if necessary'.
As we've previously stated, we'd always recommend a second treatment to catch any later lice hatchings.
Prices for a 200ml pack, which also includes a comb, range from £8.59 to £11.99.
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.
Lyclear recently launched the Extra Strong range, which is available as a , or . The manufacturer claims that, as well as ridding your child of nits, it offers up to 72 hours of protection from re-infestation.
Nitty Gritty, famous for its nit comb, is a pesticide-free treatment you can buy 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 to infest. It claims the essential oils in the spray 'encourage head lice to stay on their existing host rather than migrate'.
Prices start at around £20.99 for , £12.99 for a 250ml defence spray, and up to £29.99 for a including comb, solution and defence spray. The on its own costs £9.99 from the Nitty Gritty website or £10.50 from . You can buy the white detection comb for £2.50. If you have the comb already, you can buy the for £20.99.
This own-brand head lice treatment is one of the cheaper options, although it only contains 100ml, so depending on how much hair (or children) you have to treat, you may only get one dose out of it.
Like many of the head lice treatments available these days, it contains dimeticone - a product that suffocates the lice. The manufacturer recommends you leave it on for as long as possible - overnight preferably - so it's not the speediest of treatments.
This is an Australian brand, but it's available in the UK. It's an all-in-one treatment that comes in a spray format. You spray on the treatment, leave it for 20 minutes and then rinse out.
This is more of a natural brand than many others on the market, although the manufacturer still claims that it will eliminate lice, larvae and nits.
It contains plant oils of coconut, calophyllum, jojoba, sunflower, sweet almond, and castor. It claims to act mechanically by obstructing the respiratory openings of the lice, larvae and nits.
It doesn't contain dimethicone or silicone, two of the ingredients used to 'suffocate' lice. The bottle comes with a lice comb, which you need to use after applying the treatment, to remove lice and eggs.
This brand started off with a mousse-based treatment, but has now branched out and offers a protective lice shampoo as well. The active ingredients are isopropyl alcohol and isopropyl myristate, and it works by dissolving the lice's protective exoskeleton and then dehydrating the lice and eggs. It claims to do this in two hours. Products include:
Vamousse mousse only comes in 160ml bottles, but look out for discounts, particularly during August and September.
Free head lice treatment used to be available under the NHS minor ailments scheme. The scheme is a service that some pharmacies offer, and is designed to make it easier to get treated for minor ailments by going straight to your pharmacy rather than getting an appointment.
Head lice used to be included in this scheme, and it meant that customers entitled to free prescriptions, such as children under 16, could get treatments free of charge. However, head lice treatments are one of 35 over-the-counter treatments and medicines that are no longer covered on the minor ailments scheme, in an aim to cut NHS costs.