Just the very word “lice” causes some people to have an itchy scalp! While lice are exasperating, embarrassing, and downright time consuming, natural remedies for lice are very effective, inexpensive and safe. Unlike over the counter treatments, many of the natural treatments are actually good for your hair and scalp!
Are Over the Counter Remedies Effective for Lice?
Over the counter (and some prescription) lice shampoos and treatments usually contain toxic chemicals. These chemicals are neurotoxins, designed to kill the lice. Unfortunately, you are using these neurotoxins directly on the scalp where they can be absorbed into the brain and bloodstream. Additionally, lice have become resistant to many of the chemicals used in over the counter products. With many effective home remedies, you do not need to subject your child or yourself to these chemicals.
Safe Remedies to Get Rid of Lice
Your first priority in effectively eliminating lice is a nit comb. “Nits” are the eggs from lice. The lice attach them to the hair shaft near the scalp. A nit comb is easier to use if you apply hair conditioner to the hair first, or use the nit comb after using one of the remedies below for killing lice and loosening the “glue.”
A basic nit comb from the pharmacy should suffice, but the “Terminator “ lice comb seems to be especially effective.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Likely you already have apple cider vinegar in your kitchen and can begin treatment right away. Apple cider vinegar can be poured directly onto the head and massaged into the scalp. The vinegar helps to dissolve the “glue” the lice use to attach eggs to the hair. You will need to follow up with a nit comb.
Mayonnaise suffocates the lice and makes the nits easier to remove. Beginning at the scalp, coat the hair and scalp with mayonnaise. Work from the scalp to the end of the hair shaft. Cover the mayonnaise covered head with plastic wrap and a towel. Wash hair after two hours. You may need to shampoo the hair twice to get out all of the mayonnaise. Use a nit comb to remove dead lice and eggs. Mayonnaise is an old fashioned hair conditioner. After this treatment your hair may be softer than ever.
Coconut oil is not only an excellent hair conditioner, it will kill lice. Spread coconut oil onto the hair from the scalp to the end of the hair shafts. Cover the hair with a towel and let the coconut oil stay in the hair for 2 hours. Shampoo your hair once or twice and use a nit comb to remove dead lice and their eggs.
Essential Oils for Lice
Essential oils can be added to the above treatments for lice. Add one or more of the following to mayonnaise or coconut oil. Add ½ teaspoon of essential oil for each ¼ cup of oil or mayonnaise.
- Tea Tree Oil
- Cedarwood oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Eucalyptus oil
While even the cleanest person can end up with a case of lice, a lice infestation requires diligent cleaning to prevent a re-infestation.
Clothes need to be washed daily. Bedding needs to be washed and dried on the highest dryer setting daily. Children’s stuffed animals need to go in the dryer for 20 minutes per day.
Carpets and furniture should be vacuumed.
You can fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray furniture and car upholstery and car seats.
While the above remedies may completely eliminate the lice after one application, ideally the treatment is repeated one week later.
Do not share combs, brushes, hats or hair ties with others. Avoid activities that will require you to wear a helmet that others have worn. (i.e. at a go cart track or video arcade.)
Add 1 teaspoon of tea tree essential oil to each 16 ounce bottle of shampoo or conditioner that you use. This is especially helpful for people in high risk situations for contracting lice. (i.e. children in day care, preschool or elementary school, high school students on a wrestling team, adults who work with young children, etc.)
Apple cider vinegar rinse. Apple cider vinegar can be used as an alternate to hair conditioners and is also great for preventing lice. Keep a bottle of diluted (1l2 with water) apple cider vinegar in your shower and pour some over your hair after each shampoo. Allow it to dry. Initially you will smell like a salad, but that will pass as your hair dries.
Do not use plastic wrap as part of a lice treatment on a child overnight because of the risk of suffocation. You can place a large bath towel on the child’s pillow if you are using a treatment that you wish to leave on overnight and want to protect the bedding.
Do not use essential oils undiluted on the head. Essential oils are very strong and can burn or irritate the skin. Essential oils are very concentrated. Excessive use can even cause hormone difficulties. Use essential oils with respect and restraint.
Do you have a natural remedy for lice? We would love to hear your story!