Home Remedies For Head Lice

home remedies for head lice

Use home remedies for head lice and avoid dousing your children in harmful pesticides. 

Insecticidal shampoos are becoming more and more ineffective as the lice become more resistant.

As a result, parents are using these treatments (like Nix and Rid) over and over trying to kill off the lice and putting their children at risk. 

That's on top of wasting their time and their money. Very disheartening!

I know it is frustrating and maddening to have what seems like an epidemic of head lice. Try not to panic.

Even though lice can be a real hassle, there is no real danger from the lice themselves.

There is potentially more harm in the method of getting rid of lice!

Studies and reports from around the globe have confirmed that over time head lice have built up a tolerance for the most commonly used pesticides in over the counter lice shampoos. That means no matter how many time you use the same insecticidal shampoo lice remedies, certain lice just won't die.

Thankfully, there are alternatives in the form of home remedies for head lice and head lice treatments that contain natural ingredients like these listed here. 

I've read some pretty crazy suggestions for treating hair lice. I wouldn't recommend the majority of them. But, if you have head lice symptoms in your family, here are a couple of home remedies for head lice that won't have harmful side effects.

Home Remedies For Head Lice

There's also a homemade natural head lice herbal treatment that is a combination of regular shampoo and conditioner with particular organic essential oils added in. It's a simple process to make it yourself. Want to give it a try? You can get the recipe for that herbal remedy for lice here.

Even though essential oils are 'all natural,' there is some concern that too much use of them on children may have a negative effect on their development. Personally, I don't think it would be a problem if you only used the home made head lice remedy occasionally for hair lice. You could use regular shampoo and conditioner the rest of the time.

However, if you want to avoid any potential harm from using essential oils, there are home remedies for head lice that are completely harmless hair lice cures.

How To Kill Head Lice With Olive Oil

One of my favorite home remedies for head lice!

It really is possible to kill head lice with olive oil. No, the oil doesn't poison them or anything like that.

Instead, you suffocate them!

Lice have little openings along their sides that allow them to breathe. If you plug the holes with the oil, the louse will be unable to breathe and will eventually die.

There is something important to note. Lice can "hold their breath," so to speak, for a long time. It's important to leave the oil on the head for several hours. If you wash it out too early, some of the lice may revive themselves and go right back to breeding on the head.

Home Remedies For Head Lice Supply List:

  • Olive Oil (the cheapest brand will do)
  • Applicator bottle is recommended for ease in applying the oil, but it isn't a must.
  • Shower Cap
  • Clean Towels
  • Wide Tooth Comb
  • Fine Tooth Comb or Head Lice Comb
  • Clarifying Shampoo (Dawn dish soap also works).
  • ***Patience***

That last one, patience, is a must. If you are working with children, try to find a way to lighten the atmosphere and make it enjoyable rather than a dreaded task. 

You can use this time to chat about things that your child really wants to talk about but you rarely have time to sit and let them chatter.

It's best not to have the TV or DVD playing while you are combing out the nits. They will keep wanting to raise their head to look at the picture and you will have to keep forcing it back down again. Audio books are a good alternative if you need something to help entertain them. Just check at your local library if you don't have any of your own.

Home Remedies For Head Lice Instructions:

  1. Cover the entire head liberally with the olive oil. Massage it in well, being sure to cover every strand of hair and the entire scalp is completely covered. The oil will suffocate and kill the live active lice and also make it easier to remove the nits (lice eggs).

  2. Pile the hair up on top of the head if necessary and cover the hair with a shower cap. It may help to tie a bandanna over the top to hold the cap in place, especially if you are going to leave it on overnight. The oil needs to stay on the head and hair for about 8 hours to be sure the active lice are really dead. It's a good idea to cover the pillow case with a towel to avoid getting olive oil on the pillow cases.

  3. While you are waiting, get the necessary cleaning done.
    • Soak combs, brushes, hair clips, etc., in hot water for at least 20 minutes.

    • Vacuum areas where the persons hair would have had contact. Think of places like the couch, car seats, throw pillows, dolls and stuffed animals.

    • You don't have to be obsessive about it. Lice can't live away from a head for more than 24 hours, but you don't want any strays being passed to someone else's head in the meantime.

    • Wash clothes, hats, jackets, etc., that have been worn in the last couple of days. Sheets and pillow cases also need to be done the next morning. Be sure to dry in a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes.

    • If there are any items you are concerned about that you are unable to wash, place them in a large bag or box and put them aside for two weeks. That will ensure that any live lice die and that any nits have a chance to hatch and die as well.

  1. Comb out the lice and nits. This is the part where that patience comes into play.

    Start with the wide tooth comb to untangle the hair. Using the fine tooth comb or head lice comb take one small section of hair at a time and comb through. Start at the scalp and follow all the way down the shaft of the hair to the end. 

    Rinse out the comb after each pass. I admit I always find it fascinating to check the comb to see how many I "got" each time. 

  2. When you have gone over the whole head with a fine toothed comb, it's time to wash out the olive oil. Before wetting the hair, apply the clarifying shampoo and work it well through with the oil. This will help the oil to rinse out more easily. You may find you need to wash the hair twice to remove all of the oil. 

    If you don't have clarifying shampoo, you can use Dawn dish washing soap because it has a degreaser in it that will help remove the oil.

  3. Repeat the process every 4 days for 21 days (Days 1, 5, 9, 13, 17, 21). I know that seems a bit daunting, but because of the life cycle of lice many people are re-infested because they miss a few eggs that eventually hatch and start reproducing. If you don't do the job thoroughly, you'll be stuck using home remedies for head lice forever!

    I've been pretty fortunate in that I have fairly thin hair and my mom was usually able to get them all the first time around when I was a kid. You may want to take that chance, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

Special Note: It's really important that you swallow your pride and tell other mothers whose children may have been exposed to the head lice. If not, you may find yourself facing the same problem again and again. Even if you tell your children not to share combs, hats, etc., children tend to play in close proximity of each other as a matter of course. Even though lice can't fly or hop far, it doesn't take much to pass them around. Do them and yourself a favor by spreading the word and sharing these simple home remedies for head lice.

To your good health!

Comment Or Question
About Head Lice Treatment?

If you have any questions about head lice treatment feel free to ask them here. Be as specific as possible, including what you have already done, so that we can do our best to help.

You might have an experience of your own to share that will encourage and help others get rid of the little creepy crawlies.

What have you found that works for you in getting rid of lice? What absolutely DID NOT? Please take a couple of minutes to tell us about it.

Questions and Comments by Other Visitors

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Question About Lice 
After reading your suggestions on getting rid of head lice, I do have one further question about lice. If lice can only live off the person for 24 …

Head Lice Never Goes Away 
My daughter's head lice never goes away! My child got head lice for the first time this summer. Since then she has been sent home so many times …

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