Essential Reading: Home Remedies for Head Lice

Yaz O'Connor

March 21, 2018

home remedies for head lice

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Head lice are increasingly immune to the chemical treatments often touted for dealing with the problem, so you may be looking for more effective (and budget-friendly) solutions to dealing with nits and head lice. This is essential reading for parents – home remedies for head lice that have been recommended by other Mykidstime parents.

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While head lice can be a year-round annoyance, the warmer months do seem to bring about an increase. Having to hand some natural and home remedies for head lice treatment is a good idea. Some of the suggestions listed below are anecdotal remedies, but many parents swear by their effectiveness.

What are Head Lice?

Head lice are a very common childhood ailment. They are tiny little bugs, similar in size to a grain of rice, that grip onto the hair shaft. They lay their eggs (nits) on the hair strands, close to the scalp, normally around the nape of the neck and behind the ears – that’s where the most warmth is. Are you scratching yet? I am!

Nits hatch after 6-7 days and, once hatched, they live for about 30 days. So, once you get a live louse out, you will also need to get all the eggs before they hatch and start to mate, thereby starting the cycles all over again. It’s time-consuming, but once you catch them early it takes less time.

You May Also Enjoy 5 Handy Things To Help Get Rid of Head Lice

Home Remedies for Head Lice Treatment

Treating the head lice as early as possible is essential, so let’s take a look at some home remedies for head lice that you may find useful:

#1. Regular Combing

home remedies for head lice
From experience, the best way to get rid of lice is simply combing with a good metal lice comb.

It’s best to comb through wet or damp hair that has had some conditioner applied to it, as this makes it easier to get the comb through the hair, but it can also stun the lice for a bit. Part the hair and work through the whole head slowly, section by section. You should keep some kitchen paper and a bowl with boiling water nearby to rinse the comb after each comb through the hair.

Even after treatments, whether natural or chemical, you should comb through the hair every day for a few weeks to make sure you get all the live lice and their eggs.

Parent tip: “There is a comb on Amazon that is great for getting the nits. It worked great for me. I did use a [chemical treatment] kit, but that comb was the best investment. I use a spray everyday of tea tree and rosemary as a preventative.” – Hannah

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#2. Tea Tree Oil

If you have some tea tree essential oil at home you can mix that in with some conditioner. Head lice reportedly don’t like the scent of tea tree, and the conditioner makes combing much easier.

Apply the tea tree and conditioner all over hair, from roots to end, and leave it on for about 15 minutes before combing through. Shampoo the hair, then comb again.

Parent tip: “Use a tea tree shampoo and conditioner and use a nit comb. I have used olive oil and a shower cap as well – it did work, but was very messy and took ages to wash out” – Caroline

#3. Other Essential Oils

home remedies for head lice

In addition to tea tree, other strong-smelling essential oils such as lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint and rosemary are thought to be a deterrent for head lice.

Parent tip: “I have a spray bottle with water and a few drops of tea tree or essential oil that I spray on daily. It has worked so far.” – Jenny

#4. Hair Straightener

Apparently, the heat from a hair straightener is great for killing head lice and nits.

Section the hair and straighten as you normally would. As you straighten each section, run the lice comb through. I love this idea especially for the adults if you are worried about having lice too.

You May Also Enjoy Watch Jill’s Tips on Getting Rid of Head Lice

#5. Mayonnaise

home remedies for head lice

Another one that a lot of people say works for them is applying mayonnaise like you would conditioner. They say the mayo smothers the head lice if you leave it on for a good length of time. Some people recommend leaving it on overnight with cling film wrapped around your head, but I wouldn’t recommend that as it could be a choking hazard.

After leaving the mayonnaise in for as long as you can, you simply wash it out and comb through the hair section by section. It leaves hair shiny and smooth too as a bonus!

Parent tip: “Mayonnaise and vinegar mixed together (smells vile!), smothered all over the head, wrap it up in cling film and leave for an hour. Then wash out with tea tree shampoo and conditioner, and comb through.” – Ruth

#6. Salt & Vinegar

Mix a solution of equal parts salt and vinegar, preferably in a spray bottle to make it easier to apply. Spray it on the hair, then leave on for 30 minutes before combing through. Apparently, the salt dehydrates the lice. After washing, I’d suggest combing again.

Parent tip: “I use half virgin olive oil and half white vinegar. Saturate the hair, cover with a shower cap, and leave on for as long as you can before washing off. The next day, saturate the hair with Listerine, put the shower cap on again for as long as possible, then rinse. We kept the caps on for over an hour. The oil and vinegar kills bugs, while the Listerine lifts eggs and dead bugs out of hair. It worked great, and we had a lice comb too.” – Sue

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More Parent Tips for Home Remedies for Head Lice

  • “Baking soda – washed once, and in a week all eggs had died” – Gryte
  • “Tea tree with conditioner under a plastic cap, then use a nit comb” – Samantha
  • “Warmed coconut oil and apple cider vinegar – it smells nasty, but works! Leave in the hair for 30 minutes at least, then wash out.” – Caroline

What Next? How to Prevent Head Lice

Once you get rid of the head lice and eggs next step is prevention. You don’t want to go through that ordeal again any time soon, so doing a few things daily and weekly can help stop getting them again.

You May Also Enjoy Top Tips to Prevent Head Lice When Kids Go Back To School

#1. Comb at Least Once a Week

Weekly checking for lice and combing, as mentioned above, will help stop things at an early stage. If a louse happened to lay a few eggs, you will catch them before they hatch and hopefully won’t get an infestation of head lice.

#2. Use a Preventative Spray

As discussed, head lice hate the scent of certain essential oils, so making up a spray bottle to use at home can be a good idea. Spray on every morning before school, paying special attention to behind the ears and the nape of the neck.

#3. Keep Hair Short or Tied Uphome remedies for head lice

Keeping hair as neat and tidy as possible helps to minimise the chance of getting head lice from another child, particularly as children often sit with heads close together.

Short, neat hair definitely minimises the risk, however for longer hair the options could include plaits, a bun or another well tied back option is a good idea.

You May Also Enjoy Handy Hair Styles to Prevent Head Lice Taking Hold

At the end of the day, all kids will get head lice at some stage. It’s an annoyance, it makes you scratch and really paranoid, but it’s normal and all part of childhood…and parenthood! Don’t panic and remember, combing is key!

What other home remedies for head lice do you use? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

home remedies for head lice

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Published On: March 21st, 2018 / Categories: For Parents, School / Last Updated: March 31st, 2021 / Tags: , , /

About the Author: Yaz O'Connor

Yaz is an Irish mum of 4 living in Dublin. Since she had her 2nd child and finished working as a beauty therapist she set up her blog in 2012. Here she shares her parenting, beauty & lifestyle tips with parents & women alike. You can also find her tweeting at @glittermamablog.

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