The best nit and head lice treatments for 2021
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.
Best head lice and nit treatments
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.
Curly and afro hair
Curly hair can be treated with the nit comb and conditioner method. But if you have Afro-Caribbean hair, this method isn't effective, so a medicated treatment is advised.
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.
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.