Head lice treatments guide

Which products are most effective at dealing with this perennial childhood problem?
 
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  • Updated:21 Aug 2007
 

03.Herbal treatments

Products reviewed

  • Ecokid Daily Leave-in Tonic
  • Ecokid Prevent Shampoo
  • Ecokid Prevent Sensitive Shampoo
  • Ecokid Lice Bomb
  • Ego Moov Head Lice Foaming Gel
  • Ego Moov Head Lice Solution
  • Electric Blue Natural Headlice Cream natural headlice treatments
  • KP24 Natural Head Lice Mousse
  • KP24 Natural Head Lice Cream
  • KP24 Natural Head Lice Lotion
  • Lice Attack Lotion
  • Lice Blaster
  • Licetec Head Lice Preventative Spray
  • Nads NitWits Head Lice Foam
  • Neutra Lice Spray
  • Neutra Lice Lotion
  • No Nitz Natural Nit Gel
  • PPS Fried Lice Gel
  • Praneem Repel Shampoo
  • Praneem Natural Head Lice Treatment
  • Sunspirit Lice Scents To Kill
  • Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Head Lice Gel
  • Wild Child Quit Nits Head Lice Defence Spray
  • Wild Child Quit Nits Advance Medicated Cream
  • Wild Child Quit Nits Head Lice Eliminator

Price

From $9.95 for Neutra LICE Lotion (200mL) to $23.95 for Ecokid Lice Bomb (50mL).

Do they work?

Many herbal ingredients have been evaluated for treating head lice in lab tests or small clinical trials. Results for some products are promising (see The evidence below).

However, most of the herbal head lice products we looked at haven’t been clinically tested on children’s heads. (Ego Moov Head Lice Solution, a registered herbal head lice treatment, is the exception.)

Products that haven't been clinically tested are usually only listed with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), indicated by an AUST-L number on the label. This means they don’t get the same pre-market grilling as registered products (noted as AUST-R).

AUST-R marked products contain approved ingredients, which have been previously assessed for safety and quality, but their effectiveness hasn’t been evaluated.

There’s also the potential for composition of herbal products to vary depending on location, plant source, season and over time, which can impact on effectiveness.

CHOICE's advice

If you’re having no success with insecticide treatments, some herbal treatments could be worth a try.

The evidence

The TGA’s Medicines Evaluation Committee reviewed the evidence for effectiveness of herbal head lice treatments sold in Australia and found just two studies — both unpublished — comparing the effectiveness of herbal products with that of insecticide treatments:

The first compared Lice Blaster (a combination of herbal extracts and tea tree oil) with KP24 Medicated Foam, which contains maldison. Fourteen days after treatment, 71.4% of patients were rated as cured in the Lice Blaster group, compared to 47.3% in the KP24 group. This result seems promising, however the researchers couldn’t rule out that the low success rate with the KP24 foam may have been due to resistant lice, or insufficient contact time between the product and hair.

The second study compared a product containing 1% permethrin and 2% tea tree oil with a product containing just 1% permethrin. There was no significant difference in the reported success between the two groups who tried them, which suggests that the tea tree oil didn’t contribute to the effectiveness of the product. However, no firm conclusions could be made as the two formulations differed in other respects as well.

 

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