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6 April 2021

The best nit and head lice treatments for 2021

Do cheap nit and head lice treatments work? Are nit combs or lotions most effective? Discover the best head lice treatments as voted by parents
Which?Editorial team
Head lice close up 438915

We surveyed hundreds of parents to find the best nit and head lice treatment. 

Discover whether you should go for medicated lotions, such as Hedrin, Lyclear or Full Marks, nit combs or herbal treatments.

Our research also found out what brands of head lice treatment are the most frequently bought - although this doesn't always mean that parents think they're the best.

In June 2020, we surveyed 701 UK parents of children aged under twelve who had treated head lice, asking them which product they deemed best.

Which? members can log in, now to reveal the results.

If you're not a member, try Which? to unlock all the results of our research, plus a step-by-step guide to treating head lice.

Best head lice and nit treatments

Head lice and nit treatments
Ease of use
Value for money
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Table notes: Survey of 701 UK parents in June 2020 with a child aged up to 12 years.

Types of treatment

Below are the most common treatment methods that parents use for ridding their child of those pesky head lice.

Nit comb method

More than half of parents we surveyed said they used a nit comb. A nit comb costs only a few pounds and you can often use it in conjunction with another product such as a medicated or herbal treatment, or conditioner. If you already have conditioner in your home, the latter method can be a cheap way to tackle head lice, but it can be time-consuming.

Check out our video on how to use the nit-comb-and-conditioner method effectively.

Does your child have very very curly or afro hair? Follow our tips on how to treat head lice in those with mixed race and afro hair.

Medicated treatments

Medicated treatments from Boots, Full Marks, Hedrin and Lyclear all made it into the list. One of the benefits of these treatments is that they're often much quicker to use than the combing method – some take only 10 minutes.

There are different treatment options, ranging from creams and lotions that you use like a shampoo, to easy-application sprays, or a product that can be used as a leave-in mousse.

Why repeat treatment is so important

The key to making a medicated treatment work is to apply a follow-up treatment. Just under two thirds (59%) of parents of the parents we surveyed said they did this.

Even with treatments that are claimed to kill head lice in one application, there is a possibility that some eggs (nits) could survive if the product isn't properly applied to cover all nits and lice. If they do, the cycle starts all over again, and you have another infestation to deal with. Current advice when using 'once-only' treatment is to check your child's head a week later to ensure you have got rid of any lice or eggs that you might have missed, but we reckon checking and applying an additional treatment a week later is the safest way to know you've killed all the head lice.

Herbal/natural treatments

Parents were less impressed when using herbal or natural treatments, such as tea tree oil, and were less likely to use them.

Herbal treatments may work better when used in combination with a nit comb. However, many parents prefer to use herbal treatments as a preventative measure, rather than to actually get rid of lice, as it's thought products such as tea tree oil repel lice.

There is limited evidence of the efficacy of herbal products, and not much information on any side effects. If you prefer not to use a medicated product, we recommend using conditioner and a nit comb.