Home Remedy for Head Lice
A wide variety of head lice treatments are available -- some can be bought over-the-counter; others require a prescription. Some people worry about these traditional treatments because a number of them contain pesticides. Although these treatments can kill lice on contact, pesticides are toxic products, which, if used improperly, may cause side effects. Furthermore, current research suggests that some lice have become resistant to common pesticides used in treatment. For this reason, many people are interested in home remedies to stop head lice.
Several home remedies are available. These include:
Oil-based treatments (mayonnaise or olive oil)
Tea tree oil.
A couple of pesticide-free treatments have been developed and are available over-the-counter. These include:
With any of these products, it is important that nit-picking be part of any head lice treatment. Without it, treatment is not going to be successful (see How to Get Rid of Head Lice for step-by-step instructions for nit-picking). Also, if you are going to try any of these head lice home remedies, you should keep in mind that most of these have not been studied sufficiently to determine their effectiveness or possible side effects.
Make sure to discuss with your healthcare provider or school nurse any alternative treatment that you may be considering. He or she is in the best position to discuss your individual situation. In addition, do not mix head lice treatments without first talking to your healthcare provider.
White Vinegar: A Common Home Remedy
White vinegar is one home remedy that is often recommended. It can be used to loosen the nits (lice eggs) from the hair before you begin nit-picking. However, it will not kill lice or the nits.
To use white vinegar for getting rid of head lice, soak the hair with white vinegar, and then apply a damp towel that has been soaked in the same solution. Leave the towel on the hair for 30 to 60 minutes, and then begin to pick the nits using a special comb.
Recent studies have shown that white vinegar deactivates NixÂ®, a common medication for head lice. So when white vinegar is used as a home remedy for head lice, it should not be used in conjunction with Nix.
Oil-Based Treatments as Head Lice Home Remedies
Oil-based treatments, like mayonnaise or olive oil, are another type of home remedy. These products make it difficult for head lice to breathe. If you saturate the hair with an oil-based product and leave it on for at least 30 minutes, this will cause the head lice to slow down. As a result, it's easier to remove live head lice and nits.
In order to use oil-based treatments for head lice, you will need the following:
Olive oil or mayonnaise (do not use homemade mayonnaise, low- or no-fat mayonnaise, or salad dressing)
Special nit-removing comb
Shower cap or plastic wrap
Regular baby shampoo or regular shampoo without conditioner, detangler, cream rinse, or oils
Sink to wash hair in.
Then do the following:
Cover the infested head completely with olive oil or mayonnaise.
Place a shower cap over the hair, or wrap the hair with plastic wrap.
With the cap on, briefly blow-dry the hair. The heat will help kill the head lice.
Leave the cap on for at least 30 minutes -- up to two hours is best.
Using a special nit-removing comb, like the LiceOutâ„¢ comb or the LiceMeisterâ„¢ comb, remove the head lice and nits (see How to Get Rid of Head Lice).
Shampoo the hair. It may take more than one shampooing to remove all of the mayonnaise/olive oil.
Use the special nit-removing comb to remove any remaining nits. Continue to remove nits twice a day for two weeks.
Vaseline as a Home Remedy for Head Lice
The same theory for oil-based products also applies to Vaseline. Vaseline can make it difficult for the lice to breathe. To use this home treatment for head lice, follow the same steps as in the previous section, except leave the shower cap on overnight (or for at least eight hours).
The downside of this treatment is that Vaseline can be difficult to wash out of hair. In fact, it can oftentimes take up to a week of daily shampooing in order to remove it all. You can try using dishwashing liquid to get the Vaseline out.
Does Tea Tree Oil Work as a Home Remedy?
Another popular head lice home remedy is tea tree oil. This is the essential oil distilled from the leaves and terminal branches of tea trees, in particular, the Myrtle tree (Melaleuca alternifolia).
Tea tree oil can be used in a couple of different ways. The most common method is to add five to ten drops of pure tea tree oil into a small amount of baby shampoo or regular shampoo. Make sure that you use a shampoo without conditioner, detangler, cream rinse, or oils.
Massage the mixture throughout the scalp, cover with a shower cap, and leave on for 30 minutes. You may add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to this mixture if you want. You may have to wash the hair again with regular shampoo to get the oil out.
LiceOut is a non-toxic gel that washes out easily, and is safe and easy to use. It traps lice so that nit combs, such as the LiceOut comb or the LiceMeister comb, can remove lice and nits.
Always follow the instructions carefully when using any product designed to treat head lice.
This is a natural head and hair hygiene treatment that is pesticide-free. It contains coconut oil, anise oil, and ylang ylang oil. It has been used effectively in Israel to kill head lice. A research team from the University of Miami found HairClean 1-2-3 to be an effective nontoxic product for the treatment of head lice. Follow the instructions provided with the product.