19 Home Remedies for Lice
No parent wants to hear the word lice, knowing it means a lot of hair combing, wriggling, itching, and uncomfortable children. But thankfully there are a number of great home remedies for lice that you can try. Many of the home remedies listed won’t leave a lingering chemically smell that many mass-produced lice remedies give off.
What are Lice?
Lice are tiny parasitic insects that feed on human blood. There are three main types of lice: head lice, pubic lice (crabs), and body lice. Whilst body lice and pubic lice usually only occur through poor hygiene, head lice can occur on any head.
Having head lice don’t necessarily mean that your hair or your child’s hair is unclean. Whilst head lice can spread they won’t really cause you any harm, though they’re crawling can make your head feel extremely itchy! They don’t have wings so they can’t hop from head to head and will usually only spread through close contact with another infested head of hair.
Head lice usually lay their eggs close to the scalp at the bottom of your hair shaft. It’s important when removing head lice that you use a treatment that will both remove and kill the eggs and the lice themselves.
Signs of Lice
Lice may be hard to spot sometimes, but the symptoms generally aren’t. The general symptoms will include the following symptoms:
- Regular and repetitive scratching and itchiness
- Tickling caused by the lice moving your hair as they crawl
- Seeing lice that have fallen from your hair onto clothing, bedding, or furniture
- Difficulty relaxing at night or sleeping as head lice tend to move around most when it’s dark
- Small bumps on the scalp that are red in color
How Do You Get Lice?
The main way lice spread is through head-on-head contact. Because of this, they’re most common in children as they may hold their heads close together when playing. Whilst it’s uncommon for sharing hairbrushes or other items which have come into contact with an infested head to spread the lice, this can sometimes happen. It’s probably best to encourage your children not to share hair brushes, hair ties, or bands just in case. Remember, having head lice does not necessarily mean you’re unclean and absolutely anyone can get them; although, as previously stated, they are more common in children.
Home Remedies for Lice
Most cases of lice, whether it be head, body or pubic lice can be treated using the same home remedies. Bear in mind some areas of skin will be more sensitive than others so not all remedies will be gentle enough to use on pubic lice.
Combing Wet Hair
Any method for removing lice will involve a very fine-toothed comb. The finer the comb teeth the better as these will be more able to catch the lice and their eggs. When hair is wet it’s easier for the comb to move through the hair and harder for lice to cling on, making their removal far easier.
Make sure the hair is wetted thoroughly all over and comb it right from the scalp to the ends of the hair. You should ideally do this three or four times a week over a two week period. This should be enough to remove the lice and any unhatched eggs.
Putting mayonnaise on hair may seem a little odd but it’s a great way to both remove lice and soothe any itching. Ideally, this is best used for head lice as you should really leave it on overnight. Use a shower cap to prevent the mayonnaise from getting all over your pillow. Cover the entire scalp in mayonnaise and cover overnight. Comb it through the next morning with a special lice comb and you’ll remove all the dead lice and their eggs.
The mayonnaise and shower cap combination will suffocate any hatched lice too which will prevent any itching through the night. You might need to repeat this a few times but it will do a great job in removing your lice.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil makes a great home remedy for lice because it has antiseptic qualities. You can use it in much the same way as you would the mayonnaise by covering the hair in a mix of tea tree oil and a carrier oil, leaving it on overnight. You can then use your lice comb to comb the lice and eggs from the hair. Ideally, you should repeat this process a couple of times a week for two to three weeks.
One of the many uses of coconut oil is lice removal. Unlike mayonnaise and tea tree oil, it’s a much thicker consistency which makes it a little easier to apply and spread it through the hair. Like mayonnaise and tea tree oil, coconut oil with suffocate the lice and cause them to die, making them far easier to remove. The coconut oil is also sticky and will prevent the lice moving from the hair to another head or bed linen.
If you have an allergy to coconut and its oil, this is a great alternative. It’s very sticky however which is great for trapping lice but not so great for your scalp. as it could take several washes to remove all the traces of the oil from your hair.
A Hot Hair Dryer
Whilst this home remedy won’t physically remove the lice or eggs it will help to kill the lice. The extreme heat from a hot setting on a hair dryer will kill the lice and eggs. This way the eggs won’t hatch which will then make them easier to remove.
Garlic has been used in ancient remedies to remove lice! Grind some garlic cloves with some lime juice to make a paste and spread this over the infested hair. Leave the mixture on your hair for half an hour. Once your half hour is up, wash your hair with regular shampoo and then comb your wet hair with a lice comb. Repeat the remedy a couple of times a week for a couple of weeks and you should be cleared.
Salt and Vinegar
Not just a popular crisp flavor, salt and vinegar actually make a pretty good home remedy for lice. The salt dehydrates adult lice whilst the vinegar kills the eggs. It’ll also make it harder for the lice to grip your hair and make it easier for you to remove them with your lice comb.
A Good Clean Up
Lice can cling to the fabric of your furniture so keeping your house clean is a great way to remove them. If you successfully remove them from your soft furnishings you’ll stop them from spreading to other heads. Vacuum where you can and make sure bedding is thoroughly washed. If you can it’s also a great idea to try and wash any stuffed toys.
Olive oil is another great way to smother and suffocate lice. Apply a generous amount to the infested hair and then part the hair into sections. Comb it through thoroughly with a lice comb to catch all the lice and eggs. It’s a good idea to rinse the comb with hot water in between uses. Once finished you should wash the hair with regular shampoo to remove any olive oil residue.
Like olive oil, almond oil is great for suffocating lice and can be used in the same way as olive oil. Again, it’s a good idea to wash the hair properly afterward to remove the oil.
Sanitize your Brushes and Other Hair Styling Items
Although it’s rare, lice and their eggs may cling to the hair that gets trapped in your hairbrush or hair ties. To make sure all your items are cleaned through, wash any hair ties or hair bands that you can in warm soapy water. You should also remove all the hair from your hairbrush and combs and then wash them in hot soapy water too.
Ylang Ylang Oil
Apply a generous amount of ylang-ylang oil to your hair in sections and comb through with your lice comb. The oil will both suffocate the lice and make it harder for them to cling to your hair.
Like the other oils that you can use for home remedies for lice, lavender oil is great for both suffocating lice and making hair too slippery for the lice to cling on. Make sure your rinse your comb as you go through each section of your hair. This will make sure that it doesn’t get clogged up and stop being effective.
As you can tell, natural essential oils make great home remedies for lice. They’re usually fairly accessible and effective which is great news if you find that you or your children end up with lice. Simply apply the eucalyptus oil in the same way as other oils in this list. Use your trusty lice comb to remove the lice from your hair section by section.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Like regular vinegar, apple cider vinegar is great at suffocating lice and stopping them from sticking to the hairs. By making it harder for them to cling on you’ll make them easier to remove. You could even mix your apple cider vinegar with some coconut oil to make a paste. Leave this mixture on your hair overnight. Cover the hair with a shower cap overnight to stop the mixture getting on your bed sheets. In the morning, comb your hair thoroughly with your lice comb.
Another oil you can try as a home remedy for lice is neem oil. Apply it to your hair in sections and comb through thoroughly. Sectioning your hair makes it easier to get the comb through and makes it more likely that you’ll catch all the lice and their eggs.
Sesame Seed Oil
Sesame seed oil has strong antibacterial qualities which make it a great home remedy for lice. Its oily texture also makes it easier to catch and remove the lice. This is because it removes the sticky substance they produce to help them grip the hairs on your head.
This is more of a preventative method than a remedy, but they do say that prevention is often better than the cure. By using hairspray you make it harder for the lice to get a grip in your hair. This makes them far less likely to settle and lay their eggs in your hair.
Remember some of these methods may take a few tries before they get rid of all the lice and their eggs. Stick with it though and you’ll get them all eventually. Plus, with these methods, you won’t have to put up with the strong chemical smell and the high price of over-the-counter lice remedies. You can also try tying long hair back for school or play dates as this makes it harder for the lice to spread from head to head.