Updated May 2022
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Buying guide for Best lice kits

No parent is happy when their youngster brings home a head full of lice. Unfortunately, these feared infestations are common among schoolchildren because of the daily close contact they share. In fact, almost anyone can end up with a case of lice when exposed to an infested individual.

Although prevention of lice is preferred, there is only one goal when an infestation does happen: get rid of the crawly critters fast! That’s when a lice kit is a must-have. Lice kits feature products such as lice spray and shampoo that are designed to kill existing lice and prevent more eggs from hatching. The kits also include fine-toothed combs for removing as many lice and nits as possible.

Shopping for a lice kit certainly isn’t pleasant, but if you need one, we are here to help. Read on to learn more about how to deal with this frustrating problem.

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The thought of contracting a case of these minute pests is frightening, to say the least. Fortunately, lice pose no major health threats to their human hosts.

Head lice 101

Lice are tiny parasitic insects that feed on their human host’s blood supply. Although they are commonly found on the head, lice can also inhabit the eyelashes and eyebrows.

Your first instinct may be to get as far away from a person who has head lice as possible. However, there is no need to panic. Lice don’t fly or jump from one host to another. Direct contact is needed for the bugs to spread.

Head-to-head contact is the most common cause of infestations. The close interactions of children in school settings are the reason lice infestations often occur in school-aged kids. Head lice can also be spread by sharing grooming tools, towels, linens, hats, and clothing. However, an infestations from these shared objects is less likely to occur.

Symptoms of head lice

A case of head lice poses some uncomfortable symptoms and noticeable signs that help with identifying the problem.

  • Itchy scalp, excessive scratching

  • Sensations of moving or crawling on the skin, especially during the night when lice are more active

  • Red, irritated skin

  • Sores

  • Infections of the scalp that result from broken skin

How can I be sure it’s head lice?

Because lice are so small, they are difficult to see. If you suspect head lice, try using a comb with close-set teeth to remove live insects and nits. You may need the help of a magnifying glass or reading glasses to examine the specimens more closely. Keep in mind that nits look quite similar to flaking skin or dandruff and can easily be mistaken as such.

Active ingredients for treating head lice

The first decision you will need to make is what type of active ingredients you prefer in a head lice treatment. You have two choices: those formulated with natural ingredients and those formulated with pesticides. Both are safe to use, but there are pros and cons to each.

Natural ingredients

Many consumers who need to use a lice kit, especially on children, prefer a product without pesticides. Lice kits with natural ingredients include plant-based products and natural oils that kill and deter insects, as well as prevent eggs from hatching. Peppermint, olive, tea tree, and eucalyptus oils are frequently included in natural lice treatments. Some natural lice kits also contain ingredients such as lactic acid blends that act to basically suffocate lice and eggs.

  • Pros

    • No harsh ingredients

    • No offensive odors

    • Less likely to cause side effects like skin irritation or rash

  • Cons

    • May be less effective on some types of lice

    • May leave a sticky residue

    • May cost more than pesticide products

Pesticide ingredients

On the other end of the spectrum are lice treatment kits made with pesticides, such as piperonyl butoxide, permethrin, and pyrethrin.

  • Pros

    • Can be somewhat more effective

    • Usually more affordable than natural brands

    • Recognizable, trusted brands

  • Cons

    • Some have unpleasant scents

    • May cause irritations or red skin, especially in sensitive users

    • Some parents don’t like the thought of using pesticides on kids

Regardless of the type of lice kit you choose, keep in mind that some infestations may not respond to this type of treatment. This is because lice in some regions have developed resistance to various treatments and pesticides. While most customers experience satisfactory results that end the life cycle of lice and their nits after completing lice kit regimens as instructed, some infestations require stronger medication that can only be prescribed by a medical professional.

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Did you know?
The term lice is plural. One of these little insects is called a louse. An adult louse is called a nymph.

Elements of a lice kit


Some lice kits contain special shampoo that is meant to control lice and add an extra preventive against nits. These shampoos are usually the first step prior to the application of the actual lice treatment.

Room spray/linen spray

As an extra barrier against re-infestation and spreading lice to others, some lice kits include sprays that can be applied to areas that come in contact with infested individuals. These can be used throughout rooms or sprayed directly on items such as carpets, bedding, and upholstery.

Lice comb

A lice comb is a vital part of controlling lice. These combs are crafted to remove live insects as well as nits before they hatch. Lice comb teeth are usually made of metal and positioned close together so they can grab and remove the tiny nuisances. Using a lice comb is an important step because nits are difficult to kill. Removing them is the best solution so they don’t hatch in the first place.


Some lice kits have formulas that work best when allowed to stay in place on the head for a certain period of time. Such kits may include a disposable cap for this purpose.

Lice kit prices

Shopping for a head lice kit isn’t fun, but at least the price won’t set you back too far.


On the lower end of the price scale, you can find basic kits for around $10 that include treatment and a comb.


Between $15 to $25, more complete kits with several steps are available.


Premium kits that contain specially formulated natural treatments fall in the $30 to $50 range. Lice kits with treatments that contain natural ingredients are also available in all price categories.


  • Live nits are usually positioned on the hair shaft close to the scalp. There’s a good chance that nits located more than a quarter of an inch down the hair shaft are hatched or dead.

  • Do not use other hair care products, such as shampoo or conditioner, when treating an infestation with a lice kit. These products could reduce the effectiveness of the lice treatment.

  • Follow the instructions of your lice kit closely, as they are designed to produce the best results.

  • Individuals with long hair may require more than one lice kit for thorough treatment.

  • Many lice kits require more than one treatment application spaced several days or weeks apart. Don’t skip this step if it’s recommended, even if you don’t see any crawling insects, as it helps to kill remaining nits even after live lice are gone.

  • On the other hand, don’t use more lice kit treatments than recommended by the included instructions.

  • Lice kits with sprays that are made from natural products like plant-based oils are ideal for sensitive users and those who don’t want to deal with harsh chemicals.

  • If you notice live lice and nits after following all of the instructions included in your lice kit, it’s time to consult a doctor or health clinic.

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It’s a myth that lice prefer a specific hair color. This misconception may have come from the fact that lice and nits are easier to see and identify on individuals with blond hair.


Q. Do people get head lice because of poor hygiene habits?

A. No. This is a misconception, because even the most fastidious person can contract head lice. Lice infestations are a matter of contact with infested people, not of personal hygiene.

Q. Should I get a diagnosis from my doctor if I suspect head lice?

A. If you have identified live lice and nits, you can try using a lice kit to treat the issue. However, if you are uncertain that there is an active infestation, or if it doesn’t respond to treatment with a lice kit after following the instructions closely, it’s time to seek the advice of a medical professional.

Q. What if head lice doesn’t respond to treatment with a lice kit?

A. If you or a loved one experience the continuation of living lice and new eggs after using a lice kit, chances are you are dealing with a strain of resistant insects. As we mentioned above, such cases require medical attention and possibly a prescription medication.

Q. How long does it take lice eggs to hatch?

A. Once laid on the hair shaft, nits hatch in seven to ten days. In turn, young lice can lay eggs in another seven to ten days, continuing the cycle of infestation.

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