A nit comb is an essential tool in shutting down a head lice infestation, however, it is important to know which are the best nit combs to use and how to use them in the most effective way.
There are many different types of nit comb out there – long-toothed metal nit combs, short-toothed metal nit combs, those with smooth teeth and those with spiral teeth, plastic ones, free ones and gold standard ones. Choosing the right one is an informed choice and can be the difference in getting on top of an infestation or not.
Long-toothed metal nit combs
The long-toothed metal ones are the best nit combs to comb with. You need the long teeth to pick up the head lice and take them all the way down the hair shaft and out of the hair. Short teeth give the head lice a chance to slip out of the comb on the journey down the hair – especially if the hair is very long.
The spaces between the teeth are also important – the closer the teeth, the better. If you can see too much light between the teeth this is not good. The cheaper the comb, the more likely it is poorly made and will not work optimally for you.
Straight-toothed nit combs vs spiral toothed nit combs
It is all a matter of preference in the end. Both types are effective. The only issue with the spiral teeth is that they can pull the hair and that can create some resistance from the person you are nit combing. If it hurts, then they can be less cooperative.
Short-toothed metal nit combs
The short-toothed metal nit combs come with one row of teeth or two rows of teeth and can be quite tricky to comb with especially when there is a lot of hair or long hair. The disadvantage of the short teeth is that they cannot cope with the movement all the way down through the hair and out at the bottom without losing head lice whilst doing that.
They really are not recommended. If you are looking for the best nit combs, it is the long-toothed metal nit comb that works for all hair types and lengths, and for all levels of head lice infestation that needs removing from the hair.
Plastic nit combs
Plastic nit combs are of very limited use. They are simply meant for detecting whether there is an infestation or not in the hair, but not for removing an infestation. The teeth are too wide apart to clear the lice and are particularly useless at tackling the eggs. Remember that plastic combs are for detection, not for removal.
Own label nit combs
Many supermarkets and chemist own label nit combs. You will have seen Boots’ nit comb and Tesco’s nit comb, for example. These are generic combs, like many others out there, where the manufacturer just adds the name of the supermarket or chemist on it.
These aren’t well designed. Bear in mind the cheaper they are then the more basic the comb is, generally meaning the teeth are not close enough to effectively get everything out.
Electric nit combs
Electric nit combs have been around for quite some time now and interestingly have not usurped the pretty basic long-toothed metal nit comb. So why is that? Why haven’t electric nit combs or electronic nit combs taken over from the ordinary metal nit comb? The answer is that they don’t really offer a better result than the traditional nit comb, and they are much more expensive.
Free nit comb with the bottle of head lice treatment
Some head lice treatments will have a free metal nit comb in the box, and they will encourage you to nit comb along with using the head lice treatment. They do this because of two things:
- The products themselves are not as effective as they claim to be
- If you are going to shut the infestation down, you need to remove the eggs as well as the lice
- The products will not affect the eggs effectively and then they will develop, hatch, and the infestation will pick itself back up again
These free nit combs are not great quality, and they usually have too much space between the teeth. Don’t rely on them – get yourself a good quality long-toothed metal nit comb to do the job instead.
Common questions people ask about nit combs
When it comes to using nit combs, there are some frequently asked questions we get from our clients.
Are nit combs effective?
The most effective thing you can do is nit comb. Far more effective than using the head lice products. Nit combing ensures you remove not only the head lice but also the nits – the eggs. You need to remove not only all the lice but also all the eggs to shut down an infestation.
Why is the nit comb not removing the eggs?
Sometimes the nit comb will not remove the eggs. This can happen in 2 situations:
- When the hair is particularly fine, it can be trickier to find good nit combs for fine hair
- When a fair amount of head lice product has been used over time. This can make the eggs harder to remove
To counter this, you need to use conditioner and nit comb very thoroughly and then with those stubborn eggs pull them off with your fingernails.
Can you comb out nit eggs?
Long-toothed metal nit combs are the way to comb out nit eggs. You won’t get them out using an ordinary comb or brush. You need to apply some conditioner – preferably a clear one, so you can see what you are extracting – to nit comb with. This lubricates the hair, essential when using a metal comb.
Can you get rid of lice with just a nit comb?
Whilst it is called a nit comb (nits are the eggs), it will also extract the head lice as you comb. When you pull the nit comb through the hair, down the hair shaft and out through the tips of the hair wipe it immediately with white toilet paper to extract the lice and eggs that will potentially be on it.
Does dry nit combing work?
Dry nit combing is not a good idea:
- When you dry nit comb when as the metal and the hair connect it will create static energy. This can project lice off the hair and make them look like they can fly (they can’t as they don’t have wings). You clearly don’t want to do this as you then risk catching head lice yourself
- It will damage the hair
- Using conditioner helps slow the lice down, so without it they will be harder to locate
It is highly recommended that you do not dry nit comb.
What is the best nit comb to buy?
The best nit comb to buy is the LiceMeister which is a gold standard long-toothed metal nit comb sold by The Hairforce, a professional nit and lice clearing business in the UK. If you like the spiral toothed nit comb, then the Nitty Gritty one is good also.
How best to use a nit comb?
It is not just about nit combing it is also about how you nit comb. The nit comb needs to touch the scalp because that is where most of the lice are crawling around. The nit comb needs to contact the scalp without digging into it and then it needs to be pulled all the way through the hair, down the hair shaft, right to the end and out.
If you stop at any stage in the hair it will snag and be very difficult to get out – also any head lice in the comb will crawl off and back into the hair. As you nit comb you should do it in different directions as well – so straight down through the hair; then comb from underneath your section; then from each side of the section; and finally, straight down again. This way you pull at the eggs from different angles.
When you nit comb you need to bear in mind that when they lay their eggs they lay invisible sacks of liquid, so when you first find the infestation and give it a clear out you must understand that there will be more eggs coming through. You therefore cannot give the hair one comb out and expect the infestation to be dealt with, however good you are at nit combing.
You need to comb again several times because the eggs will take 7 to 11 days to all come through once you have removed all the adult lice. This extends to 13 to 15 days if the infestation is a heavy one.
Why is nit combing important?
All those head lice treatment products ask you to nit comb – some even give you a free nit comb in the box – and that is because you need to get those eggs out of the hair. If you do not do this then they will hatch, those lice will grow up, mate, and then you are back to square one – a full on head lice infestation!
What type of nit comb do the professionals use?
The Hairforce who are the UK’s professional nit and head lice clearing service use a gold standard long-toothed nit comb called the LiceMiester.
If you are unsure whether it is head lice or not and you want a professional check, or if necessary a clear, then do contact us. Our network of nit and head lice removal clinics can sort it for you in 2 appointments, 7 days apart.