If you came here looking to be told which lice treatment is best, I’m afraid I can’t tell you. I can show you what treatments are safe, fast and highly effective, based on clinical research published in prestigious peer-to-peer reviewed journals. But without being able to compare that research with every other lice treatment on the market (many of which don’t have published clinical data and aren’t regulated by the FDA), it’s nearly impossible to say what is best. Besides, your definition of “best” might not match mine.
That said, here is a list of items to look at in determining which lice treatment might be right for you.
Self-Treatment vs. Professional Treatment
Do you want to try treating your lice problem yourself, or would you rather have a professional do it? Professional lice-removal companies may charge more for a lice treatment, but it might be worth it by the time you factor in the hours you can spend combing or applying lice products over many weeks (including lost time at work or school), in addition to the costs of the products. See a map of some professional lice-treatment businesses around the world.
Chemicals or No Chemicals
Do you want to put pesticides on yourself or your kid’s head? Shampoos, sprays, lotions and other lice products generally fall into either the “chemical” camp or the “chemical-free” camps. Although technically just about any ingredient could be considered a chemical, chemical-free lice products usually mean herbal lice remedies that include essential oils; and chemical-based lice products usually mean topical lice drugs or products that contain pesticides.
Warning Labels and Lice Resistance
If you choose to use pesticide products, read the warning labels the FDA requires them to publish. And keep in mind resistant lice. These so-called “super lice” are developing resistance to many of these pesticides, which means repeated treatments are often needed to combat dropping efficacy rates. Even if you go with a chemical-free lice solution, read the fine print. What appears to be a quick treatment may not be as quick as you first thought.
Killing Lice vs. Killing Eggs
How effective is the treatment at killing the lice eggs? Lice eggs, with their tough shells glued to the hair shafts, are much harder to kill than hatched lice. If a high percentage of eggs isn’t killed during a treatment, there will have to be one or more follow-up treatments a week or so later to kill the lice that will hatch during the following week. Unlike combing (which can have a high efficacy of removing lice eggs if done properly) or the professional AirAllé™ lice device (which kills 99.2 percent of lice eggs), many suffocation products, herbal products and chemical products have a tough time killing the eggs. Almost more important than asking, “How can I kill lice?” would be learning how to get rid of lice eggs.