The 7 Best Lice Shampoos of 2022

Wash those nits away

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If your kid gets head lice, know that you're far from alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between six and 12 million children ages 3 to 11 get them in the U.S. each year. And those itchy little buggers can be quite the nuisance—not to mention highly contagious for everyone in your household.

To help your child get some relief—and maybe even avoid head lice altogether—we've compiled a roundup of the best head lice shampoos. Whether you're looking for a budget-friendly option, one that will nix lice in a single wash, or ways to help prevent them in the first place, you're sure to find an editor-approved option that fits those needs and much more. Plus, we'll guide you through what to look for when you peruse.

Here, our picks for the best lice shampoos.

Our Top Picks
NIX is the only lice shampoo on the market that contains permethrin, a substance known to be extremely effective for killing lice and other mites.
Many who have tried this shampoo say it works just as well—and in some cases even better—than the leading brands.
Best Single-Application:
Sklice Sklice at Sklice.com
It’s the only lice shampoo available with the ability to kill lice in all stages of their life cycle without having to reapply after a week or so.
SchoolTime’s natural formula is scent-free and tear-free, so you won’t have to worry about it stinging your little one’s eyes.
Parents rave about the pleasant scent that’s not too overpowering, and it’s gentle enough for everyday use to keep the bugs away.
If you’re tired of super smelly lice treatments that reek of chemicals or tea tree oil, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by HeadHunter’s Wipe Out.
With dimethicone as the active ingredient, this product is formulated to kill adult lice only, rather than adults and nits.

Best Overall: NIX Lice Killing Crème Rinse Family Pack

NIX Lice Killing Creme Rinse

When it comes to treating lice, NIX is the biggest name in the business—and for good reason. NIX is the only lice shampoo on the market that contains permethrin, a substance known to be extremely effective for killing lice and other mites (although for treatment-resistant super lice, you may need a prescription product). It’s safe for kids too, as long as your little one is over two months old. The kit comes with lice creme rinse and a comb to help comb out eggs and nits.

Best Budget: Mata Piojos Lice Shampoo

Mata Piojos Lice Shampoo

Dealing with lice is bad enough without having to pay a lot for treatment. If you’re hoping to save a few bucks, check out Mata Piojos, which literally means kill lice in Spanish. Many who have tried this shampoo say it works just as well—and in some cases even better—than the leading brands.

Similar to other lice treatments, the active ingredient in Mata Piojos is pyrethrum, which kills active bugs. To ensure complete elimination, you’ll have to apply a second treatment of Mata Piojos after seven to 10 days, since this formula doesn’t kill eggs. 

Best Single-Application: Sklice Sklice

Sklice

When it comes to head lice, it’s understandable to want a one-and-done solution. After all, who wants to deal with lice longer than absolutely necessary? Eliminate adult lice and nits on the double with Sklice, a prescription-strength lice shampoo made with ivermectin. It’s the only lice shampoo available with the ability to kill lice in all stages of their life cycle without having to reapply after a week or so.

Although you’ll need a prescription to obtain Sklice, it’s super effective, with no nit combing required—lice are dead on contact when you use Sklice. It's even approved for use in children as young as six months old.

Best for Toddlers: Schooltime Lice and Nit Shampoo for Kids

Schooltime Lice and Nit Shampoo for Kids

If your toddler comes home with a case of head lice, you’ll probably want to look for a lice treatment that’s gentle and without harsh smells or chemicals. Enter Schooltime Shampoo: a chemical-free alternative to some of the most popular brands of lice treatments available today. SchoolTime’s natural formula is scent-free and tear-free, so you won’t have to worry about it stinging your little one’s eyes.

Best Preventative: Fairy Tales Daily Kids Shampoo & Conditioner

Fairy Tales

Why not handle the lice issue before it even starts? Opt for a lice-repellent shampoo like Fairy Tales. It’s formulated with rosemary, citronella, and tea tree oil, all of which are natural lice repellents, and it’s free of harsh chemicals and sulfates. Parents rave about the pleasant scent that’s not too overpowering, and the shampoo is gentle enough for everyday use to keep the bugs away.

If, however, you find yourself dealing with lice despite your best efforts to avoid them, Fairy Tales also offers a gentle and chemical-free lice treatment kit. 

Best Natural: Head Hunters Complete Pro Lice Kit

Head Hunters Complete Pro Lice Kit

Most people are under the impression that it takes a heavy dose of insecticides in order to get rid of lice. That’s certainly one way to do it, but if you’re looking for a natural alternative lice treatment, WipeOut by HeadHunters is a great place to start. The company explains that their product is particularly effective because it attacks lice on a physical level instead of using chemicals to kill them. That means it permanently damages or disables the lice, rather than exposing them to chemicals known to kill them.

If you’re tired of super smelly lice treatments that reek of chemicals or tea tree oil, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by HeadHunter’s Wipe Out. It’s got a light, fruity scent you’ll love.  

Best Pesticide Free: Lice Clinics of America Lice Treatment Kit

Lice Clinics of America Lice Treatment Kit

If you’re looking for a lice treatment that’s a complete elimination kit but you’d like to skip the pesticides, look no further than Lice Clinics of America. With dimethicone as the active ingredient, this product is formulated to kill adult lice only, rather than adults and nits. That means you’ll not only have to comb, but also be diligent about doing a second application one week later to kill all the lice (to account for all stages of the life cycle). A bonus is that the bottle comes with enough product for both applications, so you don’t have to head back to the store.

Users claim that this highly rated lice treatment is an effective alternative to more popular brands like NIX and RID. Though it may take a bit more time and diligence to completely eradicate head lice, reviewers say it’s worth it to avoid potentially harmful pesticides. 

What to Look for in Lice Shampoo

Active Ingredient

The active ingredient is an important factor when choosing a lice shampoo. This is because different ingredients kill lice in different stages: nits (a.k.a. eggs), nymphs (babies), and adults. If the shampoo doesn't target the eggs in addition to the live lice, you may have to do more than one treatment. Also, some lice shampoos contain pyrethrins, compounds found in the chrysanthemum family. So, if your child is allergic to chrysanthemums, there's a good chance they'll be allergic to the shampoo too.

Irritants

When they have lice, your kid's scalp is already irritated. Be sure there's nothing in the lice shampoo formula, like fragrance or alcohol, that could cause further irritation.

Combing or Comb-Free

Depending on your preference, you make want to have a comb-free lice shampoo to help reduce your time investment in getting rid of lice. If you don't want to just kill lice, but also physically remove them, a shampoo that comes with a comb is the better way to go. The choice is up to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can head lice live on pillows and sheets?

    Lice feed on human blood, and are therefore not considered environmental pests. So, there's no purpose in using pesticide sprays or treatments on bedding or furniture. That said, if you want to remove dead lice or hairs that have shed that have nits on them, vacuuming is your best option—whether that be on cushions, stuffed animals, rugs, or in your car.

  • Can my child sleep in my bed if they have lice?

    Tempting as it may be to help soothe your little one, it's best not to share a bed with them until their lice have been fully treated. This is because lice spread by jumping from head to head, so if you sleep with your kid while those little buggers are still alive and well, it's likely that you'll become a target too.

  • What keeps lice away from hair?

    Some small clinical studies that have looked at ingredients that may deter lice, such as certain plant oils. But since these are natural substances, they have not been tested by the FDA. To best prevent lice, try to keep a distance between a child with lice and others, advise them not to share personal belonging—especially hats, scarves, combs, brushes, hair accessories, or headphones. And speak to your child about avoiding common areas where head gear from multiple children or people are kept in close proximity.

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3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Head lice: Epidemiology & risk factors.

  2. John Hopkins Medicine. No-panic guide to head lice treatment.

  3. Mayo Clinic. Head lice prevention: What works, what doesn't?.