Head lice treatments guide

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

04.Lice combs

Combing is the backbone of effective head lice removal, so it’s not surprising there’s an array of different combs available. What is surprising is that even the humble lice comb gets a wave of the marketing wand: “superior long pin technology”, “technologically advanced design”, “patented two row technology … greater torque and effectiveness” and “patent microgrooved teeth” are just some of the descriptions you’ll read on the packs.

There’s no published research comparing combs, however. And fancy features aside, they can be roughly categorised as follows:  

Combs with plastic teeth

Plastic headlice combPrice range: $1.95 to $2.95 (for pack of two)

  • Gentle on scalp and hair.
  • When used with conditioner they remove most lice and some eggs.


Combs with metal, cylindrical teeth

Headlice comb with metal teethPrice range: $7.95 to $13

  • Gentle on scalp and hair.
  • When used with conditioner they remove: most lice; most eggs.
  • Long lasting.


Combs with metal, flat teeth

Price range: $6.95 to $10 All metal headlice comb

  • Can damage the hair shaft.
  • When used with conditioner they remove some lice and few eggs.
  • Long lasting.

Electronic comb

Price: $47.95 (plus ongoing cost of batteries)

  • Use on dry hair.
  • They remove most lice, but no eggs.
  • Can’t be used on babies.
  • Shouldn’t be used by people with epilepsy, heart disease, a pacemaker.  

CHOICE's advice

You’ll probably need to experiment with combs to find the best one for your child’s hair, but bear in mind that while plastic combs are cheap, they can be a false economy. Faced with a head of infested hair, it’s probably worth spending a bit more and buying a comb with metal, cylindrical teeth.


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