3rd August 2021
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 the brands of nit and head lice treatments most likely to be used by parents, according to a June 2020 survey of 701 parents, with a brief description of what they offer.
We've also researched which will work out cheapest if your budget is tight. Prices are correct at the time of publication, based on the most expensive RRP given for September 2020.
The own-brand head lice treatment from Boots is designed for children aged from two years. It claims a treatment time of 15 minutes and that it kills both head lice and eggs.
It will cost your £9 for a 200ml bottle.
Hedrin products work by using the physical action method of killing the head lice – this suffocates the lice, rather than poisoning them. The range of treatments includes:
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 250ml version of the lotion is the cheapest to go for if you need to treat the whole family.
The five minute waiting time for Full Marks is definitely one of the speedier treatments on the market. It claims it's 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.
The lotion (100ml) costs from £6.99 and the spray (100ml, also including a comb) costs £13.50. The 10-minute treatment shampoo (200ml) costs £14.50. The most expensive product is the 'sensitive lotion', costing £15.50 for 200ml.
It's possible to buy a 300ml 'Family Pack' of Lyclear, which retails for £19.49, but may be on offer at a cheaper price during August and September.
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 lotion and detection comb, £12.99 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 from the Nitty Gritty website or £10.50 from online pharmacies. You can buy the white detection comb for £2.50. If you have the comb already, you can buy the solution and defence spray for £20.99.
This own brand version of head lice treatment is one of the cheaper brands, although it only contains 100ml of product, 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 not the speediest of treatments.
It retails on the Superdrug website for £6.49.
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.
Nitwits All-in-One Lice Treatment costs £10.99 for 120ml and comes with a comb, which can be useful for removing dead lice and eggs.
According to the Acu-Life website, their combs have been used by school nurses for over 50 years.
Sadly, the school nit nurse is something of a rarity, but the combs still prove popular with parents thanks to their long teeth used to catch the lice, and the good value of them.
The combs retail for between £5 and £9 (depending on the length of the teeth).
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, castor, which it claims will act mechanically by obstructing the respiratory openings of the lice, larvae and nits. It does not contain dimeticone 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.
A 100ml bottle retails for between £12 to £17 depending on where you shop.
This brand started off with a mousse-based treatment, however it 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's claimed to do this in two hours.
Vamousse mousse only comes in 160ml bottles, but look out for a discounted price, 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 costs in the NHS.