Get Your “Lice” in Control with Useful Natural Home Remedies

how to get rid of lice

Can you guess the name of that one issue which is an integral-yet-annoying part of almost every child’s childhood? It’s a real “head-scratcher,” if you ask us (pun intended). As you may have guessed, we are talking about a contagious, obligate parasite commonly known as lice (singular: louse).

But what’s most interesting to note is that it can neither jump, swim, or fly, but they still manage to create havoc in our lives. Lice only spread via head-on-head contact and still affect around 12 million children (between ages 3 and 11) in the United States every year (1).

They typically attach to the human hair and feed on human scalp blood, making it impossible for them to survive without a human host. More importantly, the female adult lice lay eggs near the shaft of the hair, which takes about a week to hatch.

Despite being as big as a sesame seed, lice can be extremely difficult to see with the naked eye as their colour varies from brown, white, or tan. Now that we have our basics in place, let’s look at how to treat lice using natural, home-remedies that cost next to nothing but come with priceless benefits.

Did You Know!

Female adult lice can lay up to six eggs every day.

How to Get Rid of Lice Using Natural Remedies

CURE 1: Essential Oils for Lice

You may be wondering as to how something as “natural” as an essential oil can get rid of something as toxic as “lice.” You’ll be surprised to know that essential oils are to lice what mosquito sprays are to mosquitos, essential, and powerfully effective. Especially when it comes to how to remove lice. Studies(2) corroborate this fact by stating that some essential oils are useful in eliminating lice safely and completely. Let’s look at the top five oils that can remove lice.

Lice tend to feed on blood 4-5 times a day

1.  Clove Oil

clove oil benefits
Image: ShutterStock

Why Does This Work?

Clove oil comes with a strong, pungent smell which is extremely useful in driving the lice away. Data(3) suggest that eugenol and beta-caryophyllene compounds present in clove oil can rid your hair of lice.

How to Use?

Add a few drops of the oil to the shampoo. Massage your hair and scalp with this mixture all over. Leave it for at least 5 minutes. Take a nit comb and comb through your hair without washing off the shampoo. You’ll notice the lice falling. You can add more oil to the shampoo and repeat for a second time. Once done, rinse thoroughly.

How Much to Use?

You can take 4 drops of clove oil and any chemical-free shampoo of your choice.

[Also Read: Essential Oils To Get Rid Of Lice]

2. Tea Tree Oil

tea tree oil benefits
Image:ShutterStock

Why Does This Work?

Tea tree oil comes with antimicrobial and insecticidal properties. Research(4) suggests that this oil can significantly reduce the number of lice eggs. More so, it claims that if lice come in contact with this oil for 30 minutes, they will die.

How to Use?

Take a small amount of shampoo and mix the tea tree oil with it. Gently massage this mixture onto your scalp in circular motions. Leave it on for at least 15 minutes and wash your hair thoroughly.

How Much to Use?

You can use around 3 drops of tea tree oil for lice and any chemical-free shampoo of your choice. Note that the whole process takes around half an hour or so.

3.  Peppermint Oil

peppermint oil for hair growth
Image: ShutterStock

Why Does This Work?

Peppermint oil for lice has a cooling effect on the scalp and hair – all thanks to its primary ingredient, methanol. This prevents inflammation and excessive itching. Also, since it comes with a robust and bold smell, it acts as a natural lice deterrent.

How to Use?

Combine peppermint and olive oil and massage your scalp with the resulting mixture. Leave it on for some time. Finally, comb through your hair with a nit comb for getting rid of all the dead lice. Repeat the process as necessary.

Important: You may want to comb through your hair over a sink as the lice (the ones that are alive) may run away swiftly.

How Much to Use?

You can take 4 tablespoons of peppermint oil and 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, and massage your scalp with the resulting mixture. Please leave it on for at least 30 minutes.

[Also Read: Amazing Benefits of Peppermint Oil]

4.  Eucalyptus Oil

Why Does It Work?

Data(5) suggests that eucalyptus oil acts as a potent fumigant and is even more effective than the chemical counterparts to get rid of lice.

How to Use?

Mix eucalyptus oil with olive oil and massage your scalp with the resulting mixture. For best results, leave it overnight. Remember to wear a shower cap before you sleep. In the morning, use a nit comb to comb your hair. Once the dead lice come out, rinse thoroughly. You can repeat this process as necessary.

How Much to Use?

You can take 15-20 drops of eucalyptus oil and 2 tablespoons of olive oil for this remedy.

[Read: Olive Oil for Lice]

5.  Lavender Oil

Lavender essential oils
Image: Shutterstock

Why Does It Work?

Like most essential oils, lavender to acts as an insect repellant. You can combine this oil with tea tree oil for best results.

How to Use?

Mix lavender oil with a carrier oil and massage gently into your scalp in circular motions. Shampoo your hair and use a nit comb to get rid of the nits immediately. Once done, rewash your hair as thoroughly as possible. Remember that the whole process may take up to 2 hours, so please don’t hurry.

How Much to Use?

You can take 10 drops of lavender oil and 3 tablespoons of your favourite carrier oil (coconut, olive, etc.) You can repeat this process every other day for at least 10 days to witness any real results. Proper use of lavender oil for lice give a quick result with no side effects.

[Also Read: Lavender Oil Benefits ]

Note: Before you apply these oils topically, please make sure to consult your physician for any unknown allergies and side-effects. It’s highly recommended that you do a patch test and buy a good-quality essential oil. Plus, always remember to use essential oils in the diluted form. You can dilute it with water/carrier oil.

CURE 2: Foods for Lice

Before you jump the gun, we don’t mean to nudge you into the direction of eating the following food recommendations for treating lice. You have to apply it topically, and the best part is that all these ingredients are readily available in your kitchen. Let’s get going.

1. Mayonnaise

Why Does It Work?

Mayonnaise, being thick in consistency, can suffocate the lice – whether it’s in the adult, baby, or egg form.

How to Use?

Take mayonnaise in generous amounts and apply on your scalp and hair. It is highly recommended that you leave it overnight. Make sure to put on a shower cap before you head to bed. Rinse hair thoroughly next morning as the mayonnaise can get quite sticky.

How Much to Use?

You can take 1-2 tablespoons of mayonnaise for lice depending on your hair type. Feel free to repeat it as necessary.

2. Vinegar

Benefits of White Vinegar
Image: ShutterStock

Why Does It Work?

White vinegar contains acetic acid, which like lemons can loosen the bond between the hair and the eggs. So if you’re looking to remove adult as well as baby lice, try vinegar for lice.

How to Use?

Mix white vinegar and water, and apply on the scalp. Make sure to wrap your head with a scalp/shower cap and let it soak in for at least 30 minutes. Next, take a nit comb and remove the dead lice. Finally, rinse hair thoroughly.

How Much to Use?

You can take 1 part each of white vinegar and water. Repeat as required.

3.  Raw Unfiltered ACV

Why Does It Work?

The acid in raw, unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar is strong enough to break the glue that binds the eggs. It may not work as effectively on adult lice, but it can kill baby lice – or nits – effectively.

How to Use?

Once you’re done with oiling and shampooing your head, use Apple cider vinegar for lice in your hair instead of just using water. You can buy a spray bottle and use on your head for targeting the eggs more efficiently. Remember that your head and scalp should be completely saturated with ACV. Don’t wash it just yet. Take a nit comb and get rid of the eggs and lice – be it dead or alive.

How Much to Use?

Around 1-2 tablespoons of ACV is enough every time you rinse your hair. But always remember to dilute it first and then use on your hair/scalp.

4. Lemon

Lemon for Diarrhea Treatment
Image:ShutterStock

Why Does It Work?

Working along with the same principle as ACV, lemon’s acidic nature loosens and removes the eggs.

How to Use?

You can extract its juice and use it to rid yourself of lice as well as dandruff. Or you can use its peels as they contain d-limonene – an excellent insecticide, which works wonders on killing lice from the very source. Conversely, you can create your herbal mud pack for the hair by combining the following herbs in powdered form: neem leaf, rosemary, peppermint, sage, thyme, cinnamon, lemongrass, lemon peel powder, orange peel powder, and lavender.

How Much to Use?

Around 1-2 teaspoon of lemon juice works best. For the herbal pack, you can use 1 teaspoon and mix it with water to form a paste, and then use it on the hair/scalp.

[Also Read: Benefits of Lemon Water]

lice bite, you’ll notice that the blood doesn’t clot as they can secrete a substance that blocks clotting.

CURE 3: Home Remedies: Natural Remedies for Lice

Being constantly bombarded with over-the-counter chemicals, we tend to believe that they work “better” when it comes to getting rid of lice. However, natural remedies work equally well and are less harmful to the hair and scalp. Some of these suggestions are simple and quick to execute so say no to toxic chemicals for a change and give these home remedies a fighting chance.

1. Wet-Combing

First off, you need to invest in a good-quality lice comb (think: one that’s extremely fine-toothed.) Wet-Comb your hair every 3-4 days for at least two weeks after you notice that all the lice have disappeared. The process? Wet your hair with water or an anti-lice conditioner and wet-comb to from the scalp to the hair ends.

Why Does It Work?

Wet combing is extremely useful in catching live lice and in removing eggs from new hair growth because research(6) suggests that diagnosing louse infestation using a louse comb is 4X more efficient than direct visual examination and 2x as fast.

 How Often Should You Do It?

It is highly recommended that you repeat this process every alternate day for at least two weeks to prevent lice from recurring.

2. Smother them with Kindness

Why Does It Work?

Multi-purpose oils like almond, olive, and coconut oils can suck the life out of lice. All you have to do is coat your hair with the oil of your choice. Next, coat the comb and comb through your hair. The idea is to douse your hair and scalp completely in the oil. Remember to divide your hair into different sections and oil accordingly. Also, it is recommended that you soak your comb in hot boiling water as you continue through the process. Let it stay for some time and rinse thoroughly.

How Often Should You Do It?

Repeat this procedure every day for 1 week after which you can perform wet-combing at night for two weeks. This will ensure that you get rid of lice, nits, and eggs all at once.

3. Clean around the House & Sanitize Brushes, Combs. etc.

This suggestion is essential. Because if you don’t sanitize the lice-ridding tools (brushes, combs) before and after use, they will come back. Plus, you need to clean up the surroundings as well.

Why Does It Work?

Using a vacuum cleaner during and after the breakout prevents lice from getting transferred via broken hair that may be left on the floor and furnishings. Remember that fallen hair may still contain lice eggs, which they just about hatch at any moment. If you wish to be extra careful, make sure to cover all the furniture with plastic after you’re done cleaning it.

How Often Should You Do It?

This should ideally be done before and after the wet-combing process. Take all the brushes and combs, and wash them in boiling water. You can also mix some soap with it. Alternatively, you can immerse these tools in rubbing alcohol for an hour. For best results, make sure to soak all hair bands, hair accessories, etc. as well.

4. Listerine Solution

Why Does It Work?

Listerine comes power-packed with eucalyptus and thymol, which can kill lice effectively.

How Often and How Much Should You Use?

Take little Listerine solution and saturate your hair/scalp with it. Cover with a shower cap and leave it on for a few hours. Next, rinse thoroughly with a chemical-free shampoo. Finally, complete the routine by using a nit comb to remove any dead or live lice. You can repeat this process as necessary.

CURE 4: Lifestyle Changes for Lice

Contrary to popular opinion, small efforts embraced in daily life can keep lice at bay. So here are some tips for your practice to ensure that your home stays a strictly lice-free zone:

1. A DIY Herbal Lice Killer Shampoo Spray

meek shampoo
Image:ShutterStock

This particular recipe comes in handy when your child or a family member is seen scratching their heads incessantly, and panic starts to set in. After the initial shock, run to your bathroom cabinet and grab your own “Lice-Killer” spray. The recipe is as follows:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 10 de-seeded whole soap nuts
  • ¼ cup fresh orange or lemon peel
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp. dried thyme, sage, peppermint, rosemary, lavender, lemongrass, neem, or basil
  • 2 tbsp. aloe vera gel
  • 2 tbsp. raw, unfiltered ACV
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 5-10 drops sweet orange essential oil (5 for children, 10 for adults)
  • 3-5 drops tea tree essential oil (3 drops for children, 5 for adults)
  • 4-9 drops cinnamon leaf essential oil (4 for children, 9 for adults)

Steps to Take:

  1. Combine water, soap nuts, orange peel, and cinnamon stick in a pan and bring it to a boil.
  2. Lower the heat and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and add the thyme to let it steep.
  4. Let the liquid cool down.
  5. Strain the herbs from the liquid and combine it with ACV, aloe vera juice, olive oil, and essential oils in a spray bottle.
  6. Shake well before use, and voila, you’re done!

How to Use:

Use this spray as a shampoo for at least 8-10 days as it generally takes a week for the lice eggs to hatch. Saturate your hair and scalp with it thoroughly, and put on a shower cap. Keep it on for at least 1-4 hours to get rid of lice. Once you’ve washed off your hair, complete the routine with a vinegar rinse. Finally, use a nit comb to comb out the dead lice. Plus, if you wish to avoid re-infestation, apply it consistently, and keep it on for as long as possible.

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1. Post-lice treatment – After-care tips:

Remember that sharing towels, combs, pillows, etc. with an infected person can cause lice again. So once your treatment for removing these blood-sucking parasites is done, make sure to wash everything in boiling water for a couple of minutes. You can add soap to the water. This includes bed linens, blankets, and clothing as well. Plus, for extra effect, dry them under high heat for at least 20 minutes till they’re completely dry. Also, please ensure that you seal your child’s toys in airtight bags for at least two weeks and keep out of reach to prevent another lice outbreak!

2.  Expert Tips on How to Loosen Nits:

The best way to get rid of nits is to comb in different directions (from right to left and left to right) and comb upwards instead of downwards. Also, make sure to rinse the comb with hot water between different strokes to get rid of dead lice. Continue this process for 10 days to see any evidence of lice on your hair.

CURE 5: Herbal Remedies for Lice

Medicinal herbs come with insecticidal properties, making them a perfect solution to treat lice. Essential oils extracted from herbs have been an integral part of age-old practices for removing lice.

1. Neem

neem for a boil
Image:ShutterStock

Why Does It Work?

Neem’s primary component, azadirachtin, comes with insecticidal properties and affects the lice’ ability to feed, grow, and reproduce. That’s not all. It also soothes the scalp of any itching/irritation due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions.

How to Use?

Take the neem oil for lice and massage your hair and scalp gently. Let it soak in for some time and wash thoroughly.

How Much to Use?

You can use 1 tablespoon each of neem oil and coconut oil. The whole process takes half an hour to complete. You can use the mixture every other day for a month to see visible results.

2. Red Thyme

Why Does It Work?

Oil extracted from the red thyme herb contains thymol, which has the ability to smother the lice, thanks to its bold smell. Plus, it comes equipped with cleansing properties and aids in hair growth.

How to Use?

The process is quite simple and the same as others. Mix red thyme with any carrier oil massage your hair and scalp with the resulting mixture and let it get soaked. Take a nit comb and comb through your hair. Wash off with a chemical-free shampoo.

How Much to Use?

You can take 10 drops of red thyme oil and 4 tablespoons of your favorite carrier oil (coconut/olive etc.). Note that the whole process can take anywhere between 2-3 hours.

3. Rosemary

Rosemary Oil Benefits
Image:ShutterStock

Why Does It Work?

Rosemary’s primary ingredient, terpinen-4-ol, doubles up as a potent insecticide.

How to Use?

Oil extracted from the rosemary herb works best to treat lice. Mix this oil with a shampoo of your choice. Make sure to massage around your roots. Comb hair with a nit comb to get rid of any dead lice. This also loosens the eggs and ensures they fall out more quickly. Finally, wash off your hair as thoroughly as possible.

How Much to Use?

You can take 8 drops of rosemary oil and any chemical-free shampoo.

Note: Before trying these herbs in the liquid form, please do a patch test and consult your doctor as a safety measure.

[Also Read: Health Benefits of Rosemary ]

Lice can only survive on human hosts, which means that you cannot get them from your pets (cats, dogs, etc.)

Lice: Myth vs. Facts

There are probably a thousand misconceptions pertaining to lice and how they can be effectively treated from the source of the (hair) root. So let’s understand how you can prevent lice armed with the right information:

MythFact: Lice can travel a distance of 7 pillows in an hour 0r that they jump from one head to another. Lice are wingless parasites and only get transferred via head-on-head contact for at least 30 seconds.

Dirty hair equals lice infestation. Lice can breed on any hair, despite the degree of cleanliness. Short hair keeps lice away. Lice tend to live close to the scalp so that they can suck on the blood. Inevitably, hair length doesn’t matter. Pets carry hair lice. Head lice are human-dependent parasites.

They cannot be transferred via pets. Children are more susceptible to lice than adults. Anyone and everyone who comes in contact with a lice-infested person can catch it. Soaking lice-infested head underwater will kill the lice and eggs. Lice cannot be washed away with water.

They can survive underwater for up to 2 hours! Shaving your hair can get rid of lice. Lice can live on hair that’s as small as 3 mm in length. They can come back once the hair grows if they’re not treated properly.


FAQs

1. How long does it take for lice to show up?

Lice eggs typically hatch within 1 to 2 weeks after they’re laid.

2. What to do for lice?

Invest in a good quality fine-toothed comb to remove dead or live lice. This should be done during and post breakout, for at least 2 weeks to prevent reinfestation. Follow the remedies mentioned above and make sure to continue checking for nits and lice day and night. Finally, make sure to soak combs and brushes in boiling water for five to 10 minutes every time you use it to remove lice and even after the lice treatment.

3. How long does it take for lice to go away?

Nymphs generally take about 1 to 2 weeks to become adult lice after they hatch. If head lice are not treated, this process will repeat itself every 3 weeks. It is also important to remember that lice feed on blood several times a day, making it possible for them to survive up to 2 days off the scalp.

4. Lice vs. Dandruff: What’s the difference?

Lice lay eggs called nits while dandruff causes flaky skin. Additionally, nits tend to stick to the hair while dandruff flakes fall off the hair effortlessly. Another difference to notice is that dandruff is visible on the scalp, whereas lice lay eggs on the hair.

There’s no denying that getting rid of lice takes a lot of work. However, with researchers claiming that lice are increasingly becoming immune to chemical shampoos sold by pharmaceutical companies today, we don’t have much choice. This is hardly surprising. So why not go the natural route and treat lice using means that are safe, efficient, and user-friendly.

While lice removal may be a headache, it is not impossible to achieve – that too, right at the comfort of your home. Try these home remedies mentioned above and judge for yourself.

If, however, you find that these pestering parasites still refuse to budge, please consult your doctor for the next steps.

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