I’ve got three children aged 5, 8 and 12, and with that comes a whole realm of experience with nits. At the start of the Autumn term you can guarantee that someone will return to school with nits, and soon everyone is itching. I’ve got a fair arsenal of things to combat the little bugs, and here’s my round up of the pros and cons of each.
First though, there’s one simple thing you need to know to get rid of nits. You need to break the lifecycle, so the little bugs never get big enough to lay eggs. In my experience (not based on any science at all!) combing or treating the hair every five or six days does the job – leaving it a week or more between treatments means that if you’ve missed a single nit, it’s had a chance to lay eggs and you are back to the beginning again.
My top recommendation for most families, (and I’ll tell you who this is not great for later) is the Nit Free Comb This is a cheap one off purchase, and is the most effective comb I’ve found. It doesn’t expire, go off or run out like liquid nit solutions, and as long as you don’t lose it the £9-£10 you invest is a one off! On the downside, you need patience, and it’s most likely to be successful on those with short straight hair. It could be a long process for those with long hair, spirals, kinks and curls. I’m just glad D, who’s hair is down to har waist now, seems to be past the nitty stage! Don’t waste money on other nit combs, they’re just not as effective.
Tips for using the Nit Free Comb: smear generous amounts of cheap conditioner and this will smooth things as you comb through.
Hedrin 4% lotion is my next top pick, and something I’ll aim to keep in the cupboard just in case. It doesn’t smell much, and can be applied and left overnight. It’s low on nasty chemicals – no insecticides, and instead uses a silicone-related product to ‘suffocate’ the lice which you then comb out. This is good for little ones who hate all aspects of the process as you can smear it all over them and let them go! Because it doesn’t contain insecticide, I’m also less concerned that K rarely lets me give him a really good shampooing!
Plus points – it’s easy to apply and has little or no smell. I’ve found it very effective.
On the downside, you need to let it dry overnight, it’s relatively expensive (£11-12 for 150ml), and hard to wash out.
Tips for using Hedrin: it’s runny, so wrap an old towel round your child’s neck while applying it.
I was offered Vamousse Head Lice Treatment Mousse to try recently. This has worked well on J who at 9 is old enough to stand still. It took me a couple of tries to work out the best way of inserting the nozzle into the hair to get the mousse to the roots, but after that it was easy. It can be left in for just 15 minutes and washes out easily leaving the hair nice and soft.
On the downside, it has a distinctive strong smell that lingers for several days. It costs around £15.
I also liked the idea of the Vamousse Protection Shampoo for Head Lice which claims to deter re-infestation, but it has the same distinctive smell which means while I’ve used it on the kids I might not use it myself!
Whatever nit treatment or form of attack you use, remember to go at the little bugs again after 5-7 days … and possibly one further time. This will catch the eggs that weren’t killed or removed the first time round and are just turning into bugs.
The Boots electronic head lice comb is something else I have in the bathroom cabinet, and I think it is the one that K, age 5, likes best. It makes a satisfying buzz when you hit a louse, but I don’t think it is quite as effective as the Nit Free comb. It costs around £20.
Disclouse: I was given the Boots comb in a goody bag from a Britmums event a couple of years back. I wasn’t overly excited at the time, but it has come in handy! I was sent the Vamousse to try too.