Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine studied a total of 133 children aged between two and 15 who had head lice, or Pediculosis capitis.
The scientists described in the British Medical Journal how half of the children were treated with over-the-counter lotions which contained insecticide, while the other children were asked to use a Bug Buster kit which contained four special combs to remove the infestation.
Health experts have expressed concern about the toxicity of insecticide treatments and there is evidence that head lice can develop resistance to them, leading to a rise in rates of infection.
The Bug Buster kit has been developed by the charity Community Hygiene Concern and costs £5.95. The fine-toothed combs in the kit are designed to pick up the head lice and break their life cycle so that they do not return. The Bug Buster kits had a 57 per cent cure rate among children, compared to 13 per cent among those using the lotions.
However, the authors pointed out that even the Bug Buster kit had a four in 10 failure rate and called for more research into the problem.
Last month, communal combs and brushes were removed from the washrooms of the House of Commons in an attempt to stop the spread of head lice among MPs.