Treatment for lice (head lice)

Treating lice is all about removing the lice and their eggs from the hair and scalp. This is best done in one of the following ways:

  • Treatment with a lice repellent
  • Lice control with lice balm

Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to wash or freeze bedding, nor do you need to do extra cleaning around the house.

NOTE: This article deals exclusively with the treatment of head lice, which in Denmark is the most commonly found lice species (the two other lice species that live on humans are crab and body loop).


How do you treat lice?

Head lice are best treated in one of the following ways:

  • Treatment with lice repellent (see instructions below)
  • Lice control with lice balm (see instructions below)

NOTE: You need to decide which of the two methods you want to use. Below you will find guides on how to treat with the two methods.

The advantage of lice repellent is that it is very effective and easy to use.

The advantage of lice combing with conditioner is that it is effective and natural. The downside is that combing is time-consuming, which can be a particular problem with children who may not always have enough patience during combing.


Treatment with lice repellent

Head lice are best treated with a lice repellent because it is easier and more effective than combing with conditioner.

We recommend the products listed below:

We recommend Hedrin lice repellent because it has been proven to be effective and lice cannot develop resistance to it. Hedrin is not absorbed by the skin and can therefore be used on children up to 6 months as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women.


Lice treatment with Hedrin works like this:

  1. First treatment (read and follow the instructions included with the product)
  2. Defecation (remove dead eggs and empty eggshells with a fine-tooth comb)
  3. Other treatment (repeat treatment with Hedrin after 7 days)
  4. Defecation: Remove any eggshells again

Please note that you should only treat individuals with live lice. In other words, you should not treat people who do not have live lice in their hair because it is useless.

If you find eggs but no live lice, they are usually dead eggs, which is the result of a successful treatment. However, you should continue to check your hair for live lice in the following weeks.


Lice control with conditioner

You can comb your hair with conditioner to remove lice. This method is also known as 'wet combing' and works because the conditioner makes the hair easier to comb while making the lice less mobile.

Some people prefer lice combing with conditioner because it's a 100% natural way to treat lice. For combing with conditioner, we recommend the products below:

We recommend the Bug Buster lice combs in combination with the lice balm above because their effectiveness is scientifically proven

However, if you want to comb your hair with conditioner, it is still important to use a lice comb, as the teeth of a regular comb are not close enough to catch lice and their eggs.

In UK study from 2005 showed that wet combing is a technique that works in practice. The study compared Bug Buster lice combs (as seen in the box above) with a number of leading lice treatments and found that lice combing was more effective than the lice treatment. 

This is one of the reasons why we also recommend lice combing with conditioner to treat head lice.



One of the biggest problems with lice treatment is that it is done in the home and is therefore not always effective. This means that in some cases the treatment is inadequate. In the following, you can read about the possible causes of lice treatment failure when using lice repellent or lice combing and conditioner.


Lice repellent

When using a lice repellent, treatment often fails because the instructions for use are not followed. In practice, this is often because:

  • treatment is too short-term
  • insufficient lice repellent is used (incorrect dosage)
  • putting too much water in your hair (which dilutes the lice repellent)
  • not checked for lice after treatment
  • that are not reprocessed
  • you are reinfected (read more about this below)

In some cases, treatment failure can also be due to resistance; i.e. the lice have become resistant to the lice repellent being used. In these cases, the lice repellent should be changed at the next treatment.

Note, however, that there are a number of anti-lice products that lice cannot develop resistance to. These include Hedrin and Linicin.


Lice comb and conditioner

When using a lice comb and conditioner, treatment can fail because:

  • a regular comb (and not a lice comb) is used
  • a poor quality lice comb is used
  • hair is not combed thoroughly enough
  • hair is too long and thick, making it difficult to use the lice comb
  • not checked for lice after treatment
  • that are not reprocessed
  • you are reinfected (read more about this below)

If you can't get rid of lice with lice combing and conditioner, you should use a lice repellent.


Middle of the gene pool

If you have undergone a lice treatment and have successfully removed all lice, there is still always a certain risk of becoming re-infected with lice in the following weeks. This is called people center and is an important element of treatment.

  • Increased riskThere is a high risk of re-infection as long as you are in contact with infected people. In practice, this could be a child who goes to kindergarten and plays with other children who have lice.
  • Big lice: If large lice appear in your hair a few days after an otherwise successful treatment, this is a sign that you have been re-infected.
  • ControlIn the period after treatment, hair should be checked regularly for lice, as there is a risk of incorrect treatment as well as re-infection.
  • CommunicationAlways notify other (relevant) people in your social circle about lice, as this limits the risk of re-infection. For example, if you find lice on your child, you should notify the school, daycare center and other parents. This increases the likelihood that all infected children will be treated at the same time. This way, the lice problem is solved faster and the risk of re-infection is reduced.

If you have children, it is a good idea to make an agreement with the other parents in the children's circle that everyone checks their children for lice on the same days. For example, this could be the first day after the school holidays or similar.

Avoiding reinfection in children is very much about a coordinated effort from parents.


Alternative lice treatments

There are a number of old home remedies and alternative forms of lice treatment, including the use of petroleum jelly, essential oils, olive oil, vinegar, rubbing alcohol and more.

These treatment options are not recommended because their efficacy is not proven, but also because several of them can be harmful to your health.

You can read more about this type of lice treatment in our article on lice cures.


Is there a season for lice?

Head lice have their peak season between September and November, which coincides with flea season (the reason for this phenomenon is unknown).

In addition, their prevalence is also higher immediately after vacations, which may be due to getting to know new people during vacations and being less aware of lice in children when they are not in school or daycare.


When should you see a doctor?

If you have lice or suspect you have lice, you can either buy a lice repellent or visit your doctor to have your symptoms checked. In most cases, however, you can simply buy a lice repellent and follow the instructions on the packaging. You can also consult your pharmacy if you are unsure about the use of the product.

Seek medical attention if you do:         

  • have severe night itching that doesn't go away after a few days
  • see live lice or new eggs after treatment with lice repellent
  • experience side effects after using a lice repellent
  • have signs of skin infection, such as:
    • Increasing pain, swelling, warmth, redness or tenderness
    • reddish marks or lines radiating from the affected area
    • draining pus
    • fever without an immediate cause

If you have a feeling that lice are still present even though the treatment has been successful and there are no more lice or eggs to be found, you should also talk to your doctor.


Recommended products

The following products are recommended for treating lice: