Have you ever noticed how motherhood has a way of making you feel guilty about random things, like going to the bathroom by yourself? Well, here’s one thing you shouldn’t add to your list: lice.
If your little one gets it, it’s not because they were dirty . . . though it’s probably a good thing if they are sometimes. Lice thrive in clean hair, dirty hair, blue hair and even weird beard hair.
If you’re like me, you remember being doused with a foul, tar-like shampoo after a wave of lice hit your local elementary school. For even the natural mamas among us, it’s easy to think that this might be the time to bring out the big guns. Who wants to fight this stuff for weeks, right?
Before you lather up, though, here’s what you need to know:
Conventional Lice Treatments Are Worse Than We Thought
Over-the-counter options like Nix, Rid, A-200 and Pronto and prescription varieties like Ovide or Kwell contain neurotoxins that kill lice by attacking the central nervous system.
Permethrin and pyrethrum, which are found in over-the-counter options, are neurotoxins that have been linked to “side effects such as headache, ringing of the ears, nausea, tingling of fingers and toes, breathing problems, and other nervous system problems.” (1) The Asthma Society of Canada adds that “Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of pesticides, especially those with a history of allergies or asthma.” (2)
Prescriptions options use stronger pesticides. For example lindane, which is found in Kwell, is linked to seizures, slurred speech, mental confusion and tremors. In fact, the “pharmaceutical use of lindane is already banned in at least 52 countries across the globe. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the use of lindane, citing toxicity to the central nervous system and cases of seizures in children, as well as low efficacy.” (3)
“Increasingly pesticides like lindane, even in very small amounts, are linked to a wide range of adverse impacts on children’s health,” said Mark Miller, MD, MPH, director of the UCSF Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit. “The options for lice and scabies control shouldn’t include this neurotoxic pesticide.” (4)
Plus, They Don’t Even Work
You see, lice are super these days. And by super I don’t mean awesome, I mean resistant to pesticide-based products. According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, 99.6% of the lice found in the U.S. at the time of the study were “super lice.” Just like bacterial superbugs, they’re unaffected by conventional treatment methods.
If you’re scratching your head about what to do instead, I have a few suggestions.
How To Get Rid of Lice Naturally
Last week I discovered that one of my boys had lice. Since it spreads easily between family members I decided to treat everyone, including myself. My hair is long and thick, so separating it into sections to go through with a nit comb (more on those in a sec) is not an easy task. Since I like my husband and want to continue liking him, I decided to drive to a professional nitpicker for help with that step.
While she was working on me she shared insights into her process, which she says works 99.99% of the time. Here are her three steps:
Step 1: Heat Treatment
Using a device similar to a blow dryer, she heated each section of my scalp in 30 second intervals. Lice and their eggs (called nits) need moisture to thrive, so this step helps by dehydrating and killing a lot of them.
Earlier that day I’d used a hairdryer on my daughter, who has waist length hair, to achieve the same goal. I asked her if that would work and she said yes. Because hairdryers do not heat as uniformly as the device used by professionals, I used it for longer – about 20 minutes total on medium heat. I also used a curling iron to “flatiron” the hair away from her scalp for good measure, because I really hate lice. It’s been a week now and it looks like we succeeded with just one treatment.
Step 2: Nit Comb
Next, the hair is combed to remove dead lice and eggs, plus any that were not killed by step one. Professional “nitpickers” most often use the Nit Free Terminator Lice Comb to remove lice and eggs.
After comparing the metal comb I was able to find at our local store with the Terminator comb, I ordered the Terminator. Missing just one or two eggs can lead to a recurrence, so I wanted to have it on hand in case the comb I’d used didn’t fully do the job. It’s also good to have on hand for future issues, although I hope we don’t have any.
In the video below, a professional “nitpicker” walks you through effective combing techniques for removing lice and nits.
Quick note: My nitpicker used the comb on dry hair. After trying it both ways on my daughter I prefer the dry approach – it seems to grab the eggs better.
Step 3: Suffocation
One study found that coating the hair/scalp with a blend of mineral oil and other chemicals to suffocate the lice was 97.6% effective. Personally, I wouldn’t use mineral oil, polysorbate 80, etc., but I would definitely try oils such as coconut or olive.
Lice can hold their breath for up to eight hours, so some people recommend covering the coated hair with a shower cap and letting it sit overnight.
I’m not sure that’s necessary, though, if the smothering step is combined with an essential oil application (see safety note below before applying to children!). According to this analysis, eucalyptus is essential oil is more than twice as effective as permethrin and pyrethrum at killing lice, so adding it to the oil that is applied to the hair is thought to hasten their demise. The nitpicker I spoke with recommended leaving a peppermint essential oil infused product in for a minimum of 30 minutes before washing. My husband picked up some shower caps to use for this step so we didn’t accidentally get oil on the furniture.
Suffocation will kill the active lice, but it doesn’t affect nits, so if you rely on it without using step one you may have to repeat the process for several weeks. Lice don’t lay eggs until they are about 10 days old, so if you treat every 7 days you’re eliminating their ability to reproduce. After the initial treatment, two more treatments spaced a week apart should do the trick.
Safety note: Certain oils such as eucalyptus and peppermint contain high concentrations of 1.8 cineole, which can negatively affect the temperature receptors of children’s lungs and cause breathing problems. For that reason I used only kid-safe oils that the professional nitpicker recommended for use on lice – tea tree and lavender.
In one study, a lotion that included 10% tea tree and 1% lavender oil was 97.6% effective in eliminating lice, while insecticides like pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide were only 25% effective. More on how I used them below.
Step 4: Hair Gel & Other Products
One thing the nitpicker mentioned regarding re-infestation is that lice really hate essential oil infused hair products, so in the days after I treated my boys I applied homemade hair gel with equal parts tea tree and lavender.
For my daughter I added the oils to 1/4 cup vinegar and stirred them together, then added 1/4 cup water and poured the mixture in a bottle to spray on her hair daily.
Home Remedies For Lice (Application Guide & Recipes)
If you’re wondering how much essential oil to use during the suffocation treatment and what other options should be considered, this section is for you. Below are some natural ingredient combinations that I’ve used personally and/or friends have recommended.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Some people believe that applying vinegar to the scalp/hair before blowdrying helps loosen the “glue” that holds lice eggs in place. I used a glass spray bottle to apply the vinegar to my daughters hair, then allowed it to dry naturally before doing Step #1 (heating the scalp with a blowdryer.)
Enzyme Based Soaps or Diatomaceous Earth
Some newer products use enzyme-based soaps that help loosen eggs and possibly even kill some active lice by breaking down their exoskeleton. Certain products, such as Lice B Gone, are marketed specifically for that purpose. Enzyme-based soaps would be applied either before or after Step 1 as described above.
Another option I’ve heard mentioned is diatomaceous earth. However, because it will dry out the scalp and hair – possibly to the point of making it brittle – I would only use it as a last resort. And even then, I’d take care to apply it to the scalp area and hair immediately surrounding the scalp instead of all of my hair.
Epsom Salt + Water
Epsom salt mixed with water may dehydrate and kill lice/nits. To use, apply 2-3 tablespoons epsom salt dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water (or more if needed) to the scalp/hair.
Allow the mixture to sit until the hair is fully dry, then wash before starting with Step 1. There isn’t any formal research that backs this method, only stories from parents. However, it may be worth a shot.
Coconut or Olive Oil + Essential Oils
As mentioned above, in this study, a lotion that included 10% tea tree and 1% lavender oil was 97.6% effective in eliminating lice, while insecticides like pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide were only 25% effective.
When I applied coconut oil to my kids, I used 9 drops essential oil per tablespoon of coconut/olive oil.
How To Prevent Lice From Coming Back
Lice don’t do well in the environment if separated from us, so preventing reinfestation is relatively easy with a little know-how.
- Place brushes, combs, rubber bands, and other hair related items in a sealed bag/container and place in the freezer for 24 hours
- Wash and dry bedding and towels in hot water, then place in dryer. At the end of the drying cycle I turned my dryer setting to “high heat” and let it run for 20 minutes before taking everything out.
- Wipe down car headrests and seats if possible
Products Mentioned In This Post
What home remedies for lice have you tried? Did they work for you?
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This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Sheila Kilbane, MD, a board-certified pediatrician, trained in integrative medicine. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
1. WebMD. Pyrethrum. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-387/pyrethrum
2. Asthma Society of Canada. (2017) Pesticides & Asthma. Retrieved from https://asthma.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/asthma_pesticides_eng.pdf
3. Pesticide Action Network Press Release. (2009) Global chemical treaty adds lindane to ban list. Retrieved from http://www.panna.org/press-release/global-chemical-treaty-adds-lindane-ban-list
4. Pesticide Action Network Press Release. (2012) FDA Fails to Ban Neurotoxic Lindane. Retrieved from http://www.panna.org/press-release/fda-fails-ban-neurotoxic-lindane
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I just got done ridding my kiddo’s of lice. Here’s what I did and why I did it:
Killing the adult lice:
(can double or triple depending on length of hair)
5 tsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. natural shampoo
5 drops each of these essential oils: Lavender, Tea Tree, Peppermint, Rosemary, Eucalyptus
– melt coconut oil, add other oils. Soak hair with this, leave on one hour and shampoo out. (I wrapped a towel around their head and turned on a movie so I didn’t have lice-carcas-ridden oil all over my house!)
Maintenance: I have them add a few drops of Tea Tree oil to their shampoo every time they shower. I did this for at least a couple weeks so that if we missed any nits, they would be killed as soon as they hatched.
The why: The coconut oil acts to dissolve the exoskeleton of the lice, killing them. Tea Tree added to the coconut oil alone would probably suffice, but I used all the oils simply because I had them and because we have a lot of hair in our house. 🙂 It might be overkill, but it definitely killed all lice that it came in contact with and did it quickly.
Killing the nits:
I soaked their hair in ACV and left in on for about 5 minutes. I then used the nit comb to remove the nits and rinsed with warm water to get rid of the rest.
Full Disclosure: The first time I did this with my very long-haired teen, we did not wash all of her sheets in hot water, so we had to repeat it again a few days later. I have also had to repeat it with my son for the same reason.
Here’s the website where I got the recipe (please read if you are pregnant or have small children as she has safety tips and warnings on there for both): http://www.lacetoleather.com/ridlice.html
I have put tea tree oil in our shampoo before as well. I also added Neem oil, since it can stop the reproductive cycle of the lice as well as repel them. You can also add a few drops of orange oil, neem, tea tree and rosemary to a water bottle and spray furniture, carpets, beds, cars and the child’s head as a replant.
What is the concentration of the furniture spray? Thank you
What my mom always used to do when my sister and I got lice was to mix 2 parts almond oil to 1 part tea tree oil, comb through, and leave that in overnight. The next morning, we would wash our hair and then dry and straighten it- the heat would kill off the last of the lice and the straightener helped to remove them from our hair roots, and then comb through again. Worked like a charm
your remedy costs too much! Flour, yes baking flour in the hair. Leave in hair for a day or two. The flour in a microscopic view has sharp edges. It cuts up the lice exoskeleton. They have online microscopic views of flour. “microscopic view of flour picture”
Hi there is this really effective do we wash out after flour has been applied and do we have to comb out?
Are you sure you are not talking about diatomaceous earth? It looks a lot like flour and it does have the sharp microscopic edges you speak of. See http://www.ecobugdoctor.com/blog/diatomaceous-earth-ultimate-pesticide-success-hype-glory-legend
Ugh! I am 12 y/o and I have headlice, I have tried multiple lice removal kits and they make my head Stop itching for a night and then they come back, my mom knows, but my dad doesn’t. My sister is a hair stylist and I think she might have a few ideas up her sleeve but I was wondering if there is any at home recipes to rid of lice. Thanks 🙂
You should add, especially for younger children who love to share: do not loan or borrow hats, scarves, headbands, combs, brushes.
The easiest method I found to rid my sons of lice was to simply shave the hair off. They were only in daycare and didn’t care so much about their looks, and since it was summer, they stayed cooler.
For my husband and I we did use Nix, I think, and the dependable nit comb. I have since started adding a few drops of tea tree oils to our shampoo for preventative measures.
I did forwarded this to my son who is about to become a first time dad with a lady who has two other children, and step niece whose young children are in school and was asking about treatments a couple of weeks ago.
What is acv
Apple cider vinegar 🙂
A hairdresser friend told me mix a little bit of baking soda into your shampoo before applying to your hair to remove product buildup & excess oils. Hope this helps!
Apple cider vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar
Not sure if you are still on this thread. Did you do the ACV treatment after the coco oil treatment? When did you comb through?
The pesticides do nothing and are a health danger. What has worked for us:
1) Saturate hair with hair conditioner (brand doesn’t matter), wrap in plastic wrap or shower cap, and let sit for a couple of hours or overnight. This suffocates the live lice.
2) comb through small sections at a time with Terminator lice comb (it really works well!) Wipe comb on paper towel and inse the comb in a bowl of water after each run through the hair. There will be a lot of conditioner coming out of the hair along with lice and nits.
3) wash. If you use conditioner rather than oil it much easier to wash out. Olive or coconut oil works well to smother too, but takes forever to wash out.
4) comb through every day for a week with lice comb to get all the nits. I will do a comb through again in a few days to check for any missed nits.
The key is to check for and pick nits every day. The terminator comb works wonders. You can also easily run it through conditioned hair in the shower as a follow up.
Before adding conditioner is the hair wet or dry??
If you use oils and put shampoo on the hair before getting it wet, the oil won’t act like a barrier to prevent the hair from getting wet.
Another very safe and effective remedy is using dimethicone- it’s the ingredient in personal lubricant and is in many hair conditioners. It is a silicone based lubricant. Lice can survive in water and they go into hibernation, but the small silicate shards in dimethicone get into the spirules where they breath and also inhibits their ability to excrete water, so their guts burst. Your best bet for getting dimethicone quickly is getting personal lube from the store ( I brought cash to Safeway and checked myself out :). I used it half and half with coconut oil, put a plastic cap sold for hair dyeing (readily available) a headband around the edges and a winter cap and let my kids sleep in it, then combed with the nit comb. It worked and it makes their hair feel soft and beautiful. I use this in their hair in a small batch like styling creme when there’s a lice infestation at school. Also, many of the hair “shine” products have dimethicone and I sometimes use that on the back of their hair/neck for prevention. I also use a little dimethicone dust powder on their necks when a lot of kids have lice in their school- but you have to be VERY careful not to breathe it in!
Until recently, the best guess was that the silicone oils somehow penetrate deeper into the respiratory tract than the organic oils do, making them more effective at cutting off the oxygen supply. But recent research has shown that another mechanism may be responsible. After a blood meal, a louse must excrete water. They do not have a conventional excretory system. Instead they excrete water through the same spiracles they use for breathing. The silicone oils block this excretion, and cause death by osmotic pressure on the gut.
Dimethicone (also spelled dimeticone) is a silicone-based polymer that works mechanically to lubricate hair to aid the removal of nits and lice, while physically occluding the respiratory system of the louse. Burgess found that dimethicone potentially eliminates the pesticide-resistance issue as “the blockage [of dimethicone coating the louse] inhibits water excretion, which causes physiological stress that leads to death either through prolonged immobilisation or, in some cases, disruption of internal organs such as the gut” .
and from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2652450/
Silicone based products for treatment of head louse infestation show an immediate immobilisation effect on the insects that mimics immersion in water. However, because silicones are difficult to remove or wash off, lice do not recover as they would if removed from water but remain immobile until death.Contrary to the widespread opinion that physically acting pediculicides work by suffocation the evidence is that occlusion of spiracles and tracheal trunks by silicone deposits produces a barrier that inhibits excretion of water, which results in osmotic stress leading ultimately to gut rupture in fed insects.
Interesting. I personally prefer not to use dimethicone because it coats the hair shaft and doesn’t rinse away well, thus preventing natural oils from penetrating and moisturizing. Good to know, though!
Thank you for all the great ideas! This is my first bout with my 10 yr old daughter… At first I didn’t know what to do – I used the Rid shampoo first and combed it through a couple days, washing bed sheets/cases/covers daily in hot water. As I became frustrated, a holistic salon that treats lice said they used the essential oils to rid of these little pests. Only it would cost 150.00! omgosh. I tried it myself using extra virgin olive oil and melaleuca tea tree oil! Doused her hair in it and it looked like a sci – phi movie lol… all those little creature didn’t know what to do… it made it easy to comb through- get rid of the little egg layers and the oils made the rest of the nits easy to comb out. We washed her hair through the third day, and reapplied the olive oil and melaleuca at night with seranwrap overnight (repeated 3x’s and comb-outs) – done! over! worked like a charm. 🙂 Good luck everyone!
Ali, thanks for all of this info, including sites, very interesting!! Our family of four discovered a few days ago that we had lice and our first immediate reaction was to treat with Lice MD, (ingredients: dimethicone) after family recommendations. It instructs to coat whole head, leave on for 10 minutes, then comb through. We did this, and each of us had it on about 1 hour before we washed it out. It’s super interesting to us that the dimethicone (silicone) is so much more effective than edible oils, where it requires just 10 min vs 8+hours!!! (FYI, I don’t know if this is a symptom of silicone/dimethicone, but my nasal passage felt very very dry for the next 24 hrs. So the last couple of days we all soaked our hair in avacado oil/essential oils for 8+hours, followed with nit combing. I think 6 days from discovery day we’ll be following up with LiceMD. It cost 16.99/4oz so I might research what other form I might be able to to find it. Until then, trying ‘drying out’ techniques with salt water and vinegar). While this has been a nightmare for us, we refuse to let these parasites outsmart mankind!
does it work without the essential oils, and only with everything like coconut oil, and the rest?
I have been researching natural remedies for some of these very issues. Thanks for the info. Now let me add one. Recently on a long term camping trip another camper felt groggy and decided it was just a prank infecting other campers with scabies. I went on a quest looking for alternative options and happened on one entirely by accident. I am unable to regulate body temperature due to lobectomy and no adrenal glands. I started dealing with that by taking a witch hazel sponge bath every evening before going to bed. Nothing glamorous or dramatic. I just put about a third GB of a bottle into my few inches of water in a wash basin. Sometimes I added some ice. I want you to know in about three nights of treatment what little bit I picked up on my forearms was flat and the inflammation was gone so no more redness. In a couple more days my forearms were clear and completely healed. I did some reading and it turns out one of witch hazel’s many benefits is as a natural pesticide. I have a baby cat who only wants natural products. It’s how we’re treating mites and fleas. If you want to know the brand, I didn’t spend much. Dollar General’s brand comes in the same 16oz bottle as Dickinsons and has no alcohol. Knock yourself out. It’s good for what ails you!
About ten years ago I was working in a community center with kids and got lice. I don’t remember the specifics of. my research, but what I ended up doing was this:
I put tea tree oil in my conditioner. Every other day when I washed my hair I put on conditioner thickly at the roots for 5 minutes. When I was done I dried my hair with the dryer as close to my roots as possible. (I read the heat would kill them.)
I did that for a month, and when I rechecked they were gone and never came back.
You did it for a month and when you rechecked they were gone? I’d be rechecking 10 times a day, not once a month. Nasty.
That was rude she was trying to help,dawn dishsoap
That was rather rude of you Mari. Thanks for your input Becki
No she did it every day for a month. You obviously didn’t read it correctly.
hi, how much tea tree oil did u put in? this sounds as least time consuming way! thx
Hi im 13 n my mom knows i have lice n she said just to put the lice shampoo n they will go away n they never do i dont know wat to do
Hello Sky! You should ask your mom to get some coconut oil sold at Walmart and/or some Organic Apple Cider Vinegar to treat your hair with. Put on the apple cider vinegar and leave it on until it dries. When its done drying on its own (not with a dryer) then put on some melted coconut oil and cover with a bag or plastic wrap for at least 4 hours (overnight is best). Then comb through your hair with a nit comb or ask your grandma/friend/teacher/neighbor if your mom is unwilling to help to remove the eggs. After that wash it out with tea tree shampoo if you have it. If you can’t get that use regular shampoo and conditioner, lice hate coconut so use coconut smelling shampoo and conditioner if you can. Dry your hair on the hottest setting for as long as you can stand it and flat iron when done if you can. Make sure while you are doing all of this that you dry the blankets and pillows or anything you put in the dryer on high heat for at least 30 minutes and vacuum the house and couch. Its a lot of work for anyone but it should kill them and leave you free of lice. Saying a prayer that your mom helps you my dear… good luck and God Bless!!
Wowwwwwww, You’re Incredible…. I, NEED friends as Thorough and, Informative as You!!! I, can see that You are an Angel on Earth. Wow, You HELPED ME TOO!!!! BLESS, YOU. HUGS
I hope everything worked out for you honey
Mom of 3 and a puppy
We have been going through this currently. First sighted lice May 5th, treated with store bought kits and combed multiple times a day for a week. Appeared clear. Not sure if re-infested or missed eggs. After current sighting, combed several times daily and now – used apple cider and salt mix, let dry, then smothered coconut oil and covered with shower cap for several hours. Next, removed cap and used nit comb – replaced cap and having everyone sleep through the night with it. Hoping we can clear the lice tomorrow. Plan to wash hair with shampoo with tea tree oil already added, then will use fairytales spray (which is loaded with oils that repel lice) and dry hair thoroughly. Hoping we can just get to the point of checking.
When I was eleven, there was a MASSIVE outbreak of lice in my town. All schools got it, and there was even talk about quarantining the town (okay, that might’ve just been playground talk). I had the hardest time getting rid of it, because I have such thick hair, and I think it took me about three years to finally get rid of it for good. The only thing that truly worked was lathering my hair up with conditioner, and running a lice comb through it. It was the most disgusting thing ever, but it only occurred to me that it worked about six months later, when I realized that I hadn’t had another outbreak. I’ve been lice free ever since (praise the Lord!). I honestly wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. If it were to happen again, I’d probably do it with coconut oil, or do a more natural cleanse (especially considering the OTC stuff never worked).
3 years! Poor thing! I would have shaved my head! It’s a myth that only dirty people get lice; they prefer clean hair.
Yeah they can’t suck the blood properly
I have to agree with you completely. We tried one of the enzyme based treatments but they were so expensive and I couldn’t tell if they were working. Not to mention I was having to drive around to different Walgreens to find enough. After searching around on the internet I finally decided to purchase the terminator nit comb. With conditioner in my daughters hair I just combed through and removed whatever came out on the comb. We repeated this every night until I stopped finding anything on the comb. Then I repeated it again a week later and I may have done it again after that depending on if I found anything. I wish I would have known this years ago. It was so much easier and the comb is so much better than any comb that comes in a kit. I am no longer scared of or freaked out by lice because I know there is an easy way to fight them. By the way, I am pretty sure we did not do the 20 minutes in the dryer so we managed to get rid of them just with the comb.
Hi! Thanks for the info. I keep reading that people are putting conditioner and then combing, but is the hair supposed to be wet or dry when applying the conditioner?
I did this with my daughter when she was younger. I used the conditioner on her hair when it was wet then combed through, did it every day for a week. Only thing that worked for her hair
I’ve used quite a few methods
mouthwash (the strong kind w/alcohol)
EO rosemary, tea tree, peppermint, lavender mixed in a shampoo, or with plain water in a spray bottle, or water + rubbing alchohol, or in an coconut/olive oil mixture
With almost any method you have to use the nit comb to get the lice eggs out. The eggs are so tiny. I’ve even taken out some live lice with the nit comb. The best thing I did was to blow dry my kid’s hair after any treatment. This also kills the eggs and I believe it may also kill the lice as well.
This is awesome information I’m going to share it with my director and parents if we have any at our school again. We were told to run everything on the hottest dryer setting for 60 minutes though. Can you tell me where you got the info for 20 minutes cause that would be a lot nicer.
My friend has used Neem a lot and said that you don’t use it at all is your pregnant our trying to get pregnant for moms or dads.
I knew a little girl a long time ago that had super thick long hair and they just kept reapplying the oil in her hair and braided it.
I was also wondering what you do about everything else in the house that has fabric on it. Do you need to do anything for couches and other fabric items like the car and so forth, and if so, what can you do for these items?
As a school were required to bag up any cloth items for I think it’s three weeks. And run any cloth items we can through the dryer on the hottest setting for 60 minutes.
I got lice for the first time in my life. I have no idea where I picked it up from. It was very late at night when I figured out why my head was so itchy (I scratched so hard that I actually knocked a louse out of my hair. I’m sure it was as shocked as I was). After a quick on-line research and some guessing, I doused my hair in coconut oil that I added tea tree oil to, covered up with a shower cap, and went to bed. The next morning I combed a bunch of dead, and a couple of sluggish, lice out of my hair with a regular comb and washed it. After letting it dry, I flat-ironed from the very roots of my hair to the end. I could see the nits change color as they burned. That seemed to do the trick because they never came back and it was super easy.
I have had the same result with this also ! Its my favorite, yet i had forgotten about it…Thankyou ! No nit pickin for me after i rinse the 1 tsp tea tree oil,3 tbsp coconut oil and 1 oz shampoo setting for 30 min (for me, until itch stops-45min) I shall blow dry and hot iron . I thought of this years ago with great results ,not read anywhere.
Thank you so much for this. The hot iron is in my routine now for sure for my daughter
I just got lice and just noticed nobody knows I have it I have tea tree shampoo and use it everyday I will now blow dry my hair. And try to get rid of them
This happened to me too!!
Every year my daughter and I fight about keeping her hair up at school since she has come home 2 years in a row eith it. This year I dropped the ball, we have had a different season and all of us had blackflie bites all over our necks. They typically chew on our necks or ears. I was scratching so hard one pop into my hand!
Inran into the house and poured olive oil and coconut oil all over it with some tea tree oil. Wrapped it up put a bag and a tuque on. Removed all the bedding and anything that they could hold on to like small area rugs etc, threw whatever I could in the wash/dryer and the rest in garbage bags outside. Threw all the hair brushes and paraphernalia into a boiling pot of water and vacuumed.
Picked up my daughter and doused her with the same as I had. I combed out at least 30 of the buggers all swimming around in the bathroom sink. I combed my hair out and rewrapped it. Its hard to do your own hair! Then in the morning around 3 I stopped feeling itchy. I washed my hair teice and put conditioner in, combed it out again from all the angles and blow dried it.
I checked my daughter’s she had 2 more. I will check again tonight.
Next week I will oil and wrap for the night and comb out both of us and probably again.
Its actually okay if you know you can beat them and without chemicals just oul and heat.
I love the flat iron idea:)
I remember getting lice in 5th grade. There was an outbreak in the parochial schools in my town. One of the schools had it so bad they had to shut the entire school down for a week (I think?). I still remember the nurses checking everyone’s hair in the cafeteria at my school. Anyways, my sisters and I caught it from a girl at daycare. From that point on, it was a nightmare. My mother (who was a single mom) tried everything to get rid of it. Now that I’m older, I can just imagine the dread she felt every day she got off work and had to spend the entire night trying to help us girls. She tried all the chemicals on our hair and nothing would kill them. She finally resorted to mayonnaise to suffocate them and then a vinegar rinse with the nit comb afterwards to get the eggs. That was the ONLY thing that worked for us. Granted she didn’t try the tea tree oil. She also washed all our bedding and anything else that could go in the washer and dryer and then tied up all our stuffed animals and such in garbage bags for 2 weeks. I would do all the same stuff if my kids ever get it but I would probably add tea tree oil to the mayo. We eventually got rid of it, but to this day, I will never ever forget!
Margaret Anne @ Natural Chow
Ughh, where was this post 3 years ago?! I swear, just reading this article made my head itch! For us, the only thing that would get rid of them was changing everyone’s bedding daily, going through everyone’s hair three times daily, and washing with Babo Lice Shampoo and Conditioner. I know it probably wasn’t the most natural route, but at least it wasn’t laden with toxic chemicals. I actually have a friend who’s niece’s family has lice, and I’ll be sure to pass with on to them. Thanks Heather! I hope you have a wonderful week. 🙂
Growing up, everyone caught lice. Mostly because everyone’s parents were junkies who didn’t care. But I digress. My parents were constantly washing and drying our bedding and all 4 of us had to follow “the rules.” We were not allowed to leave for school until we “combed” our hair. Brushing was the normal hair care routine, but “combing” meant using the fine-toothed lice comb we had. We combed over a white tray. When we came home, we were not allowed to go anywhere or do anything until we had combed our hair. It was time consuming and as the oldest, I had to help out the 3 younger ones, but my parents couldn’t afford lice treatments. Occasionally if the outbreak at school was really bad my parents would cover our heads in mayonaise under a shower cap and it would suffocate the lice and make the nits slide off the hair easier. We all learned how to check each other (since even Mom and Dad got it once or twice) and while I think it is icky, I’m not terrified of it the way that my MIL is. If my daughter gets it, we’ll get rid of it. But this article does give me some options that will be a lot easier than just constantly combing my 6 year old’s very long and curly hair. Thanks!
One lady was telling me how her daughter got lice 4x–while my daughter never got it, although she always puts her hair back.
This lady’s hairdresser was almost at the point of colouring the daughter’s hair–lice don’t like the PH level in coloured hair.
Got thinking and my daughter likes to put kombucha vinegar and coconut oil/water in her hair in the bath. That might be the reason. Just FYI. Thanks.
P.S. Looking for natural mouthwash recipes to help with my husband’s gums.
I found a site called Thrivemarket.com similar to whole foods but online
they have a brushing rinse, I made my own version also orawellness has a tooth oil things to try hope it works
Swishing organic virgin coconut oil for 5 to 20 minutes works wonders for gums. I have had problems with mine for years. Always red and bleed at the slightest thing. Started doing this once to twice a day and within two days my gums looked amazing and barely bleed at all. And it’s good to prevent tooth decay and helps stop cavities and everything.
For the problem of the gums:
Try having him drink pineapple juice at least twice a day for one month. If the problem persists double the time to two months. I prepared for total tooth removal and four quadrant alvioplasty this way and didn’t need ANY pain medication at all. Healing time was only six weeks total.
Try oil pulling. Use 10 ml of coconut oil and swish it round your mouth for 10-15 minutes, as soon as you get up and then spit it out and brush your teeth. It is very effective.
I have colored treated hair, unfortunately after a month of checking my daughter non-stop for lice because she was always itching and never finding anything, and the school even checked her because of her itching, a month later and I find out 2 nights ago she has a full blown case of lice and I have it now also. So while I have read a few place that lice doesn’t like color treated hair, or hair that is “dirty” or with product in it, I use product on my hair almost every single day including using a blow dryer or flat iron every day and we have been using tea tree oil shampoo for the last several months hoping to stave off a lice outbreak.
The first night I did the DE treatment on her head and combed out her hair with white conditioner in the morning, did it again that night and the following morning and evening. We are on day 3 now and the nits I am pulling out are definitely a ton less than the first night, but still a decent amount. I did mine for the first time this morning and only got about as many as she had on day 3. Tonight her and I, as well as my middle daughter (as a precaution), will do the ACV and coconut oil/tea tree oil one and see how much that helps.
heard of oil pulling? olive oil, or coconut oil, taste better in the mouth or any cooking oil, 1st thing in the morning, drink enough to gargle for as long as you can otherwise minimum 10 mins, then just spit it out…make it a daily routine, i swear by it.
The only thing that I would add to this . . . and it seems to be mostly unknown, is that if you do the treatments, comb the nits out to the best of your ability – then it is super important and I have known it to ALWAYS be effective to then dry and flat iron your hair every single day — even for young children. Whenever my kids are around someone that has lice (you know that awful phone call later) I have simply washed everyone’s hair with tea tree shampoo and then taken all the extra time in the bathroom with my girls to dry, straighten and curl their hair (even a 3 year old). They look extra beautiful, got extra special time with mom and I thankfully have never had to deal with lice.
This could be extremely difficult to do if you’re a busy mom of 4 like i am
Where was this post yesterday ?! Lol. We just treated for lice yesterday and today. I actually found a homeopathic treatment for lice at my local Whole Foods called Quit Nits. I also vacuumed all the furniture and stripped all the bedding and put it in the garage and having been doing loead after load of bedding washed and dried on hot. I vacuumed the mattresses too and all the carpets in the house. And have combed over and over with a nit comb.So far it seems to be working. As I’m only finding dead lice. Time will tell I suppose. And if not then I will have some ideas fron this post to try! I’m really intrigued by the flat iron thing though. I think I will try it. Anything to make sure we don’t have to do this again lol
It’s funny you say that. I talked to an Indian lady where their culture is to soak their hair in coconut oil. She said it strengthens hair and keeps lice out. I’m assuming that’s the “ethnic” hair you’re talking about.
Negro hair is racist… black people’s hair is not. Who says negro in 2014?
Using the word negro is not necessarily racist. It’s just a very old-fashioned term that hasn’t been used in a long, long while. Karol might be an older lady. I also assumed Ingrid meant black children because black hair tends to be drier and therefore oils are often used to condition it, but maybe she didn’t. It’s true that Indians often do oil their hair also. The comment could be interpreted all sorts of ways because everybody has some sort of ethnicity and thus there is not really such a thing as “ethnic” hair. Ultimately, Ingrid got her point across though, which is that she has experienced that oil in the hair kills lice.
Studies showed that head lice had claws that really only could grip well to white European hair, but those little suckers have evolved to attach to almost any type of hair. Hence SUPER LICE!
I think Becky was most likely referring to African American children in this instance, and though I’m not an expert I think “ethnic hair” is probably an appropriate term.
Regarding the term negro: I understand that the word may not hold the same negative association for some as it does for others and that many people do use it without intending hurt, but given it’s associations with some of the saddest and darkest parts of our history I think it’s a word we need to let go of.
Wow. Negro Hair. Try African American Hair.
This is what we did when our granddaughter got it and my son had tried the chemicals and they did not work, who then came over for the weekend and gave it to my older daughter with very long hair: Add all of the essential oils you want to use (we used tea tree, lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, clove, and peppermint – they were old enough for these oils) to the 50% coconut/50% olive oil for overnight treatment (or have a calmer, in the house kind of day and let them wear it all day long). Wash well and then rinse with vinegar/water, and then use the nit comb. Then blow-dry the roots for about 20-30 mins on low heat, keeping your hand near the scalp so that you can prevent burning the child, and then use a flat iron if the child has long hair – again very carefully so as to not burn the child. That will absolutely rid your child of lice. Don’t forget cleaning, of course. We used the blowdryer several times over the week, and the flatiron. And then repeat before day 10, and hopefully you will never see another one! Our sons who were on the swim team and were in the pool every day never got any. I think the constant swimming/chlorine was an effective deterrent. Our oldest daughter who washed, dried, and flat-ironed her hair daily also never got any. That was what made me start researching heat and found out about the drying. I truly hate lice. It’s nice that there are ways to get rid of them without chemicals!
This is the exact treatment I used and it worked great. You can actually hear the eggs pop as the flat iron goes over them. I even used the flat iron on low setting for my 18 month old who had really thick long hair and didn’t like to sit still.
What do you mean “50% coconut/50% olive oil?
I used a product called vamousse, it says it is all natural. It worked and killed the nits too. I did have to comb the nits out though.
It is the only thing that worked for my girls.
I make and sell a preventative spray. My daughter uses it every day and there have been two outbreaks in her class but no lice for us! http://barefootbodybrand.blogspot.com
I was so lucky to have my grandma, my mom was an accident so my grandma was pretty old, she grew up in immigrant coal mining camps in the early 1900’s. I never got lice through all the outbreaks and I had and have very long thick curly Italian hair. She told me to mix mayonnaise, and raw egg and rub it into my hair then let it sit. I only let it sit long enough to wash the rest of me and shave my legs. Then I would rinse my hair with vinegar. She always said to do this once a month she said to keep my hair healthy. This makes your hair either greasy if you don’t use the vinegar or smelly so then I would wash it normally to get the vinegar smell out. It also made my hair very soft, but the kids would make fun of me if I smelled like vinegar. After reading this it’s probably the reason I never got lice.
With a daughter who *loves* trying on hats, we have been through this so many times. Things I’ve learned echo what others have said, oil, heat and time. We kept her hair coated in coconut oil for a week. Just kept re-applying the oil nightly, using the blowdryer to heat up her hair with the oil and wearing a shower cap to bed. We also fine comb to remove the nits. After the week, we wash thoroughly and blowdry completely.
But the thing I haven’t seen in the article or comments is all the other items that need to be treated! Hairbrushes, combs, headbands, ponytail holders, stuffed animals, etc, etc.
We remove all the loose hair and soak the combs, brushes and other “hard* hair items overnight in ACV. Stuffed animals go in the dryer, as do slipcovers on couches, ponytail holders, scrunchies, all bedding, coats & scarves if they are in season. Essentially, anything that *might* have been in contact with a head gets machine dried.
If you don’t typically use a dryer, this is one time you need to. Everything that has been worn needs to be at least dried, if not washed.
For nit-picking, we’ve found that a blacklight highlights the nits so you can see them better. My daughter has dark hair, so YMMV.
When my daughter was young we had lice constantly. I think it was from sharing brushes, hats and pillows. It got so bad that I threatened to cut her hair off if she got it again. We used the chemical otc shampoos to no avail and then my sister in law told me to stop spending money and slather her hair up with mayo. I applied that stuff on thick, wrapped her head with saran wrap and then a shower cap. Poor thing, I made her wear it for two days and IT STUNK. We then washed her hair and dried it over and over to get the horrible smell out. She still doesn’t like the smell of mayo to this day.
Did it work tho?
My daughter is going through the same problem..Thanks for sharing these valuable tips, I will surely share this thing with my wife 🙂
A couple years ago, two of my kids got them and I didn’t but I was paranoid at the time.I kept thinking I was feeling them crawling on my hair. I used tea tree oil and add baby oil and lather through the hair and combing the lice out. Then I used cap or towel and left it on over night. The next morning I combed it out once again to be sure the eggs aren’t holding to the hair. Then I used Dawn dish soap as it takes the oil out. It works!!!!
Thanks for the Dawn (blue) tip for degreasing great and economical too 🙂
we had live last fall – after much research and testing 30 drops of oil of oregano mixed into 2 tbsp of shampoo. Coat wet hair well and let sit for at least 15 minutes. Rinse but don’t condition. I let my girls hair dry and then combed. The nits were crusty and detached easily. End of outbreak! As a preventative I now add 2 drops of tea tree oil for each ounce of shampoo in the bottle. I also use a homemade detangler with lavender. We’ve gone through 2 letters being sent home from school cautioning that live was found in the classroom with nothing coming home. Yay!
Recipe for homemade lavender detangler please
I cannot stand the thought of putting oil in my hair (or my children’s hair) because of the labor to remove all that oil when it’s time. Instead, my tried and true method of removing and eliminating lice (once per year for four years in a row now) is to use Cetaphil body cleanser (NOT the facial cleanser). I use the squirt bottle I received after giving birth to my firstborn and add the cleanser to the hair in rows. I use about half a bottle on each person. I massage it into the scalp and onto the hair shafts, focusing mostly on first two inches of hair. Then I wrap a towel around their shoulders, and place a bowl of warm water, a garbage can and about twenty sheets of paper towel next to me. And then I comb the hair with a nit comb (almost exactly like the video on this post shows). I rinse the comb in the warm water and wipe the excess soap as needed, and toss the paper towel each time in the garbage immediately. Repeat until every single strand of hair has been combed. Then I do it again. Then I blow dry the hair until it’s completely dry and wrap the head in saran wrap. I let it sit for 8-hours before removing the saran wrap and washing all the soap out. I comb the hair again after the shower with a nit comb. And I repeat every other day for at least a week. Although, this last time we had lice I think I only did it two times… I got lazy… Clothes, bedding and stuffed animals that cannot be dried at high heat are stored in plastic bags for a month. Everything else is washed and dried at high heat. It has worked every time (even when my middle child was terribly infected with adult lice and babies running amok), and I am not placing harsh chemicals or greasy oil on our heads. 🙂
We had lice for four months last year. We tried coconut oil, tea tree oil, and olive oil natural treatments with no success. The centers for disease control has a good protocol that explains the life cycle of a louse and timing treatments accordingly. I used their methods and finally rid the house and six kids of lice. Unfortunately not natural. However, maybe the natural stuff would have worked has I timed the treatment according to the life cycle. I would suggest buying a stainless steel lice comb. It helped a great deal. Also, if you get lice have an adult help you comb it out. It is really hard to do yourself. Enzymatic sprays that loosen the nits also help. I bought dollar store combs and rubber bands so I could treat them as disposable. At the time I was nursing my little boy who never caught lice from me even though we shared a bed. Once I found out I had lice I wrapped my hair in a bandana daily so he couldn’t reach up and play with my hair while nursing. I cut up cheap fabric to make the bandanas and just pitched them daily. Hang in there!
I used to be a pre-school teacher and white kids get lice. I am white myself, and for whatever reason, that seems to be the bottom line.
I stayed at a friend’s place twice this week and I have all my clothes and belongings in the car. How do I clean all the many things in my car from lice and the head rest on the front driver seat, rugs, etc. I might have been transporting them back and forth in my car with all my suitcases and such…
My 17 year old twin daughter just got lice while interning at a preschool for high school credits. Mind you, both her and her twin sister had lice for 4 months when they were toddlers. What a horrible summer that was I tried everything! and finally after doing the treatments once a week we finally got rid of them. Then again in elementary school they both had lice again and I bought a cap hair drier and did the mayo treatment and they sat under the drier for an hour a piece on an off for a day. Combed the nits and a few bugs out and then bleached there dark blonde hair a strawberry blonde, and moused or gelled their hair, braided their hair and they didn’t come back. What a hellish routine to rid a household of lice!!!!!!! 🙁 So here I go again. All three of us are going to try the vinegar salt rinse and then the coconut oil and tea tree, lavender oil mix. Thank god I still have the cap hair drier. The sheets and pillows are in the drier, vacuum cleaner out and ready. Now, I wish I had my twins in my 20’s instead of my mid 30’s. At 53 this routine is going knock me out of the park. wish me luck!! Thanks for all the tips!
My daughter had long, thick, hair. I got rid of her lice in one short afternoon. I slathered her dry hair with tea tree shampoo, wrapped it in Syran Wrap and heated it with a blow drier, on low for about 20 minutes. Rinsed out the shampoo and did the same thing with conditioner … slathered her hair, wrapped and applied heat for 20 minutes. After rinsing out the conditioner, I blew her hair dry OUTSIDE … I didn’t want those nasty bugs getting blown out in my house. Once her hair was dry, I separated it and pinned it into 6 parts. I then took each part and took a small section and flat ironed it, starting all the way from the root and pulling down to the end. I did this until all the parts had been flat ironed one small section at a time. Lice were gone and her hair was beautiful
Thanks for your article…
After doing a little research as everyone got lice at home, I have found that the salt method must work well because it is the main component of two products sold at the supermarket to kill lice disguised as “natrum muriaticum”.. (contained in a hair mousse sold as Vamousse and in a spray called Licefreee)
Both products have high ratings on Amazon….
Thought I would share!!
Licefreeee doesn’t work. NOTHING that’s been mentioned works. The only thing we’ve tried that has killed lice and nits is kerosene! After spending more than $400 in both OTC and prescription lice remedies with no success, I tried soaking all our hair/scalp in kerosene and wrapping our heads in scarves. Then vinegar rinse, blow dry and flat iron. That killed them all.
Oh my goodness! You brought me back to my childhood. When outbreaks occurred, my friends would be inside for days getting expensive treatments that lasted hours. My mother spend about $0.99 and 10 minutes on a one time treatment. Still cancer free despite all the warnings from the other moms.
I used a product , it is all natural. It worked and killed the nits too. 🙂
remember, too, that some things you cannot machine wash & dry can be frozen! put wood-handled hairbrushes, wool scarves or hats, etc into plastic zip-bags and freeze them overnight at least. repeating the vacuuming of upholstered items and rugs weekly is as important as repeating the hair treatments and the daily linen laundering. i sprinkle diatomaceous earth powder over everything like mattresses, furniture, and rugs, allow it to sit an hour or so, then vacuum. remember to empty to vacuum catch-compartment and clean its filters every time, or dispose immediately of throw-away vacuum bags. “orange guard” citrus-based spray seems to help with rugs and floors as well, though i’d use it in well-ventilated spaces preferably. don’t forget things like headphones, riding helmets, and car seats…
I am from India. And we all use oil on our hair regularly. But that doesn’t seem to deter any lice. Probably the lice here might have developed a better grip. Continuous surveillance and nitpicking and use of mild anti-lice shampoos seem to work though.
Developed better grip ?
SUPER EASY, wash with dawn dish soap, soak about 5 min even though it kills adults in just a few seconds. Pick one off drop soap water on it and see for yourself how quick they die, fleas too. Then use a vinegar rinse, leave for 10 min. Then use coconut oil to cover hair and scalp, use the terminator nit comb through hair. Wash& dry hair and if it makes you feel better, straight iron hair. We didn’t use the iron, but repeated the soap wash routine every 3 days for 2 weeks. Or school called us to see what we did cuz they had never had kids return to school so clean in just a day. We don’t freak and go through the house, just change bedding, wash and dry in dryer, clean hats, brushes, other hair items. We never get re infested. Lice do not live long off of a host. We were told to use coconut scented shampoo to keep them at bay, don’t know if that works though. Anyway, soap water kills many bugs. The soap breaks down exoskeleton then water drowns them. I kill jap beetles, and, earwigs, ants and yellow jackets and many other pests with a little soap and water. Good luck.
I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this, but robicomb! It’s available at cvs, walgreens, etc. You comb through and as it hits a bug, or egg, it stops beeping. You hold still until the beeping starts again. I have 2 daughters with long blond hair, and we have been through this too many times. I’ve tried oil suffocation with no success (12 hours of olive oil, followed by 12 hours of mayonnaise which went rancid on their heads) but the robicomb works!
I was gonna suggest this too, it works!
We used a product called Lice Freeee! (spelled with all those extra E’s) which works by drying their bodies out. Dessication. It worked for us each time; I think my girls got lice 3 separate times between middle school and college. In each case, we could follow through daily with Lice Freeee! and hand-picking the thing that attaches to the hair shaft (is this the nit?), almost strand-by-strand, painstakingly. I kept my hair braided and pulled up to prevent catching them, terrified because who would have checked my head like I checked theirs?? My hair is thicker than 3 people’s put together.
We did not use the lice comb. We have long hair.
Lice Freeee! always did the trick within a few days, and we did NOT methodically vacuum every upholstered thing or methodically re-launder all bedding daily. I did spray pillows, beds, couches, car, etc with eucalyptus/lavender/tea tree.
Lice Freee WORKS!!!!!!!!!!!!! No combing needed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Homeopathic salt treatment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SAFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just keep out of eyes when spraying!
I should add that we’ve tried EVERYTHING, oils, combing, essen. oils, neem, really everything………….Only this worked, and quickly too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
LiceFree and flat iron on hair worked for my girls but not for me (My hair is too dry and short for curling iron/flat iron)… apple cider vinegar on til dry in hair and then coconut oil on overnight finally worked for me. My family all did treatments and used the daily Lice Free shampoo and it worked. Good luck! My arms ache from all the washing in very hot water, so thanks for everyone’s hot dryer only idea.
October 12, 2015, 2:26 pm
My 10 year old daughter just recently got lice for the first time and was looking for some thing natural to kill them. Neighbor brought me a neem lice kit. Used the neem shampoo, neem extract and neem oil to kill the lice and now bought more neem shampoo to use regularly to prevent it from coming back. http://Www.allaboutneem.Com is where we found the kits and everything else. SO happy to have found this out.
Never did I ever imagine I’d be having a lice problem in my 30’s. It was only a problem in kinder and never again til now. Thank you ladies for all your helpful advice. I will try all your remedies because these creatures are such a nuisance and disgusting.
There is a product called a Robicomb. It is a little battery-operated louse electrocutor! Lice are water based, so when the electric current in the center of the tiny comb tines touches a louse, it electrocutes it. You know this happens when the whining sound of the comb stops. You will see the dead louse on the comb. This combined with a daily search and removal of nits will take care of the infestation. You check every day for two weeks in case a nit is overlooked and hatches. What is especially nice about this product is that up you can use it anytime you might be worried that you were exposed to lice, and it can be used for the whole family over and over. Note that the comb is only used when the hair is nice and dry. This is one of the best inventions!
I saw this in the store and thought it was too good to be true. Does it work with fine short hair? My 3 yr old son was sent home today with lice.
My daughter got lice from a friend at a sleepover. The friend’s mom later admitted her daughter had had them for more than a year and she was using peppermint oil to control them. I took my daughter to the pediatrician who prescribed Sklice. It didn’t work. I came upon this website out of frustration. I used the salt and vinegar method, then olive oil immediately after. TIP…table salt will not dissolve. Use Epsom, kosher, or sea salt. I used Epsom. It worked beautifully and affordably. Also, you MUST wash and hot dry all sheets, pillowcases, and pillows as directed as well as bagging up all stuffed animals/dolls from her bed for 24 hours and vacuuming couches, mattresses, floors, etc. I got them in addition to her two teen brothers. I treated all of us and the home for less than $40 and one full day of work. No nit picking necessary as salt and vinegar killed bugs and allowed nits to wash out.
Does it have to be apple cider vinegar? I only have white vinegar in the house and want to try it with Epsom salt today. Will it damage my hair?
Regular white vinegar is fine to use on hair too. I have used it as a rince 50/50 with water for conditioning many times when I don’t have ACV on hand.
Lice die within 6-24 hours if removed from the scalp – there is seriously no need to lock away toys or bedding for a month, or even to dry all your bedding in a dryer. Change all the bedding, wash and hang on the line for 24 hours. Clean hairbrushes in water and vinegar, wash and hang hats. Some hats don’t handle washing so just hanging out in the sun for 24 hours works fine.
I have recently gotten lice from a cousin…I live in a country where we do not have a clothes dryer or hot water for washing clothes. Will I ever get rid of the lice (even if I do get it off of my head)?
Is it really hot or cold where you live? If it is cold you could always put the contaminated clothing and sheets in a bag outside overnight when it is below freezing. That should kill them, then you just wash the items by hand and hang dry them. Or, if you have a microwave you could get the items damp and microwave them for a min or so. The heat could kill them. Or, you could make a spray of tea tree oil and water that might work as well.
I hope you figure something out!
Dimethicone… keeps lice from secreting… they die and can’t reproduce. Use it 3 times….a week apart.
When my then 1 1/2 year old and I got lice after visiting my sister (who didn’t tell us her kids had lice the week before we arrived!!!) I combed our hair out with rubbing alcohol! Regular 70% isopropyl alcohol from basically any store. It didn’t take too long because we had short hair. It killed the lice on contact! I kept a small dish of alcohol that I would dip and rinse the comb off with. It made our hair dry so I just put her in the tub and left conditioner in her hair for 20 min while she played. They didn’t come back.
What about treating the house and combing hair did it work
I have used home remedies like mouthwash, apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Dawn dish wash detergent; I have used prescription strength Permethrin cream; we have used over the counter Vamousse, CVS lice killing shampoo, RID shampoo, and the last thing we used was called Sklice which came recommended by the school nurse (which for some reason our pediatrician didn’t want to prescribe right away? He wanted me to continue trying OTC RID). So far so good! *Fingers crossed*
The most important thing about ridding lice is to get ALL eggs out. If not, this will be a never ending battle. We’ve spent hundreds of dollars on OTC meds and even RX strength treatments. However we’ve finally gotten this schedule down and this is my BEST reccomendation after treating everyone’s hair within your entire household(and informing everyone that any family member has been in direct contact with to treat their hair & homes or else you’ll just keep recycling the lice) : vacuum daily (and empty the bag afterwards & take to outside trash immediately), and after clothes come off they don’t even hit the ground or hamper and they go immediately into a hot water wash/ high heat dry cycles, bed linnens are stripped and washed every day in hot water wash / high heat dry cycles, My daughter uses a shampoo/conditioner called “Fairy Tales” you can get from ULTA and it has pure rosemary, citronella and tea tree oils in it and me and my husband use Trader Joe’s tea tree oil infused shampoo/conditioner (it’s got a nice cooling effect too so that makes me more comfortable that I can FEEL something “working”…I let the shampoo soak while I take care of all my other showering needs and then rinse and condition and let that soak for about 5 mins before rinsing!), after showering immediately throw used towels in wash, and then we blow dry & straighten hair and then I take a pencil and search/part through every area on my little ones head and I pull out any eggs that my lice comb was unable to remove due to her having very fine hair, but lots of it! And before sending her off to school we braid her hair and then I hair spray the mess out of it and then I sterilize all hair tools(brushes,combs,clips,hair ties) by boiling them in a pot of water on the stove for about 5 minutes.
So this seems to be working so far and will continue to be my daily routine until we’re in the clear for a few months. I also read in a previous post that a neem oil mixture can be used as a spray for carpets and furniture if you don’t have small children or pets. I may try this; however, need oil smells horrible and I’d want to learn more about side effects before using it. Can’t be any worse than the can of RID spray that comes OTC with the other shampoos which states to call poison control if gets on skin or clothing- and emphasizes keeping human and pets away….hmmmmm, maybe this product shouldn’t be on the market?
I know all of this is a lot of work and can seem a bit overwhelming, especially if you have been dealing with it as long as I have but this post above is spot-on when talking about lice being resistant. Lice is a horrible home/life invasion! You will spend hundreds of dollars and ample time trying to rid while never actually ridding the invasion if you do not stay on top of it! Best of luck everyone….and kudos to you all for researching and making it this far. You obviously care! You’re a good parent.
Has anybody ACTUALLY tried option #5? I am trying at the moment and cannot get 1/4 cup of salt to dissolve in 1/4 cup of AC vinegar! I’ve been stirring, whisking, and keeping it warm over the lowest flame and its NOT dissolving. I added 1/4 cup of more vinegar and 20 min later the salt has not dissolved; how am I supposed to put this sludge into a spray bottle? Should I just add more vinegar, or just forget it and only use the vinegar? I like the salt idea because on another blog this person recommends Lice-Free which is a homeopathic pesticide free spray which only active ingredient is Sodium Chloride, but costs $20 for 6 fl oz on Amazon. Any suggestions?
A comment b4 said to use epsom salts rathee than sea salt.
I had the same problem with kosher salt too!
I buy lice freee from Dollar General, $10 for 6oz.
Walgreen’s also has their version of the spray, $15 for 12oz.
Well, when my husband and I took foster children, lice was introduced to our home. We washed the sheets in the hottest water. Did the whole sterilization load on the washer and dryer. But the girls had such thick hair it was a problem. We washed 2 or 3 times the first week with the OTC stuff and nothing. So we took them to get haircuts and the girl at the salon told us to use apple cider vinegar and Mayo! Boy did that work! We put on the ACV and left a shower cap on them for about an hour and a half, then rinsed the hair and put mayo on it. Back in the shower caps. After about an hour I started with the thinnest hair and combed through it pulling all nits and dead lice. Working my way to the thickest hair. Took about 5 hours from start to finish, but after that, NOTHING!!! Worked like a charm. Never had them after that first week.
A comment further up suggested epsom salts rather than sea salt.
Also, appreciated all of the other comments.
Yes what do I use to wash all bedding n mattress n cloths with to kill craps
I’m a single woman who lives alone and I think I caught lice from the hotel I recently stayed at. Any suggestions? I have long curly hair and no one to use the lice comb on me.
I would get a good lice comb like the terminator and comb through with oil or conditioner. That way you can see if anything is coming off on the comb. Wipe the comb often on paper towels to see if anything was on it. Repeat that once a day. You will see less and less and Eventually you wont see them any more. You can do a recheck once a week or so to be sure you got them all.
If you want someone to look at you I would suggest going to one of the health department locations. I did that when my husband was out of town once.
great bunch of advice I am always researching and found this site to be an excellent resource.
I have just tried option 5 on my daughters hair. 2teaspoons of shampoo to 20 drops of tea tree oil and it works BRILLIANTLY!!!
I am so happy! I have tried so many many different types of nit treatments and all the expense and this is the only one that really works. And not expensive.!
When combing you can actually get rid of ALL the eggs. So no more nits!
Thankyou thankyou so much. One very happy mum! ?
June 1st I discovered my 10 yr old daughter had lice, basically as soon as they got out of school. It was our first go w/this as I never, knock on wood, had to deal w/the problem myself or w/her big sister & we all have long, thick, curly hair. So my husband brought home the run of the mill treatments from our local drug store-they don’t work, I treated her 3x. We did all the crazy cleaning & laundering. The comb that came in the box was murder on her hair, poor kid. I’m pretty sure the blow dryer is what got rid of them. Now they are back in school for a month & she has them again!!!!? Rrrrrr!!! I had some mint lotion & mint body balm I tried on her scalp but that didn’t get rid of them so then I poured olive oil on her scalp, wrapped her head in plastic & let her sleep on it, blow dried her hair & the next day picked up the salt spray LiceFreee. After all that I’ve noticed quite a bit of difference. I put the remaining salt spray on her hair tonight & only saw 2 nits. Way better than where we were 2 days ago! I’ll continue to blow dry her hair periodically & prob flat iron every now & then too. I don’t know for sure if it was the salt spray, oil or blow dryer that mostly took care of it but am much happier about the results this time around.
I never had lice as a child, but of course now my kids are infected. I like how you suggest that suffocation is a natural remedy to get rid of lice. I didn’t know that almost 99% of lice are resistant to the things that will get rid of them. I bet since medicine isn’t effective, that home remedies really do the trick. Thanks for sharing this information!
We tried using coconut oil and after 10 hours still found living, crawling bugs. I have better luck with mayo.
I had no idea that lice could hold their breath for up to 8 hours, that is incredible! There are some kids at my daughter’s school that just broke out in lice so I have been really worried that my daughter will get it as well. I’ll be sure to keep these tips in mind just in case, thank you for sharing!
I use mayonaise with some apple cider vinegar left on for the night wash out and repeat every other day for a week. The mayonaise has vinegar in it already and it also helps keep the ACV from getting in your eyes. I helps loosen the nits so any that are there are easily combed out.
Going to buy some mayonnaise & a few shower caps tomorrow!!! I wish I had looked here a couple of weeks ago, we discovered after a little girl visited us, that we were all infested. We didn’t know at first, because we’ve never had it….. My husband decided that we should get the hardcore shampoo from the pharmacy. I agreed, even though I wasn’t keen. It worked for one week, then they were all back despite washing everything like crazy….so we did it all again & now my 7yr olds scalp is looking shocking…… I rubbed coconut oil into it pre bath this evening, with tea tree oil… the lice & nits have been back for a few days… we’ve been coming every day since to check. its insane… I think tomorrow night will be shower cap night with lovely mayo masque! Wash & dry with a dryer in the morning…Thanks for the great article & so many wonderful comments to read…I feel a lot more confident at killing off the nasty buggers now!
My son’s school is having a hard time getting rid of lice. My son has not had it, so far. I am just wondering if there is something I can do preventatively?
Any advice, is appreciated. I would also like to share info with the school.
How dow you treat lice in furniture and in the car. Nothing freaks me out more than lice. All this sounds great, but I want the little buggers dead. We had a exchange student, who brought lice with them. I treated the house effectively but forgot the car. reinfected us all.
You shouldn’t sleep with a shower cap on. A child died from suffocating in her sleep from it getting lodged in her face in the night. Please let your readers know they should never have their child sleep with a bag or shower cap warped around their child head as a way to treat lice.
Which brands of shampoo have tea tree oil? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one other than Paul Mitchell’s (do they even still carry it?)?
I’m a 12 year old and I think I have lice. I really don’t want to tell my parents as I have been coming home with lice for the past 3 years. I’ve been searching through all these websites and I hope to find something I could do “discretely” so that my parents and siblings wouldn’t notice. Any tips?
Instead of apple cider vinegar can I use only vinegar?please tell me.help me
I am trying the vinegar and salt method but can’t get the salt to dissolve. Are you sure if the measurements? And yes I used warm vinegar.
Table salt doesn’t dissolve use sea salt instead
Aaah nits! I remember them well! My kids are now grown up, the youngest is 23, and I’ve spent many hours that I’ll never get back fighting head lice. Eventually, after trying all sorts of options, I bought a nit comb similar to the one you recommend. I found it to be the easiest, quickest, most efficient option of the lot! Use it with conditioner/oil of your choice. Once you’re done you’re done – no trying to keep shower caps on reluctant kids, or having to wash a treatment off several hours later. Admittedly, it is sensible to repeat the treatment to ensure you’ve got all the little blighters, but to be honest fighting head lice seems to be a constant state of affairs during that period of your children’s development. Once I discovered this comb I simply used it each time I washed their hair as a precaution. And remember, when you’re pulling your own hair out at yet another infestation, your babies grow up, and you’ll miss their younger selves – if not this particular bit! 🙂
BIG TIP: When washing out oil from hair ALWAYS put in the shampoo straight on the hair and massage into hair for at least 2 minutes then you can rinse with water. Think science water and oil don’t mix so when you add water first you are creating a barrier for the shampoo. With Halloween coming up and the vasiline gets used for slick hair costumes the same rules apply except you need more shampoo. Remember SHAMPOO ONLY then water to remove oil.
Is there any way to do this without having to come through the hair with a nit comb
I think most people find the nit comb to be essential to the process.
There’s a product in the black hair products section (I have black hair) called… Frizz Buster… it is Dimethicone. Blow dry the hair on high first… to kill the nits .. then cover all the hair with frizz buster. Dimethicone kills live lice..they can’t secrete. My grandson has given me head lice twice! I can’t seem to get his parents to listen about drying towels, pillows and bed sheets! But this is how I got it off my long thick hair.
My 10-year old daughter got head lice via some kids at school in her class, and didn’t know it until several weeks later, when they did a lice check on the students and several kids ended up having it. In my house, we end up sharing certain things, like brushes and combs, and without knowing or realizing it, I ended up using the same bristled brush that she uses to brush her hair in the morning, and before I knew it, just a few days ago, about 2 or 3 wreks after treating her lice with an OTC kit, i started scratching my scalp furiously, and when I brushed my hair sure enough, an adult lice was in it!!
I was determined to not use an OTC kit, bc I had to use 2 with my daughter, and my hair is much more thin and finer than hers is, and i didnt wanna basically burn my scalp and destroy my thinner, finer hair, so I decided to use a remedy recommended to me by my own mother, except updated a bit for, you know, modern times lol.
I used equal portions of white vinegar and coarse salt, with a small squirt of lemon juice, and a tiny bit of hydrogen peroxide and witch hazel, put it in a spray bottle, and saturated my scalp with it. This seemed to kill the VAST majority of the adult lice within roughly 10 MINUTES. This not only dries them out, but the little bit of lemon juice dissolves their exoskeleton, in addition to decoupling the nits from the hair follicle and begins to disintegrate them, along with the tiny amount of hydrogen peroxide and witch hazel. This also steralizes any wounds you might have sustained from the bites or scratching repeatedly, so it WILL, sting your scalp a bit.
Next, to finish them off, I used an AMAZING conditioner than can frequently be found in the ‘african’ section of hair products in pretty much any major retail store, called ”
HASK: Argan Oil from Morocco: Repairing Conditioner” I say its awesome because, not only does the conditioner itself serve to smother the remaining lice, but it also contains, among its ingredients, argan oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and vitamin E–which are all EXCELLENT oils used to frequently kill lice mixed into regular conditioner–but it also contains Dimethicone and Dimethiconol, which are both silicates that prevent the lice from being able to expel water, which causes its gut to expand and burst, killing them. Limonene is also an ingredient, which also is very toxic to lice and breaks down their exoskeleton. Not only that, but this conditioner is also sulfate and paraben-free, so its great for people with very thin and fine hair like mine to keep it healthy.
After thoroughly applying a thick coat of this conditioner, i wrapped my hair up with a gallon-sized Ziploc freezer bag that i cut the ziploc part off of and split slightly, so that it would fit similar to a shower cap, just thicker and more secure and capable of smothering them more quickly and efficently. Its also probably important to note that i have NOT rinsed out my hair from the inital salt and vinegar mixture that i applied before the conditioner–i simply waited for my hair to dry before applying the conditioner and wrapping it up in plastic, however i combed it out while it was still damp.
I left the plastic wrap on for around 8 hours–went to sleep with it. I also sprayed my pillows and sheets and blankets with the salt-vinegar mixture, and that has seemed to work so-far. I have not had a repeat occurance since, bit when my daughter had another outbreak about a week ago, i treated her the same way i treated myself instead of using the OTC treatment, and this time it worked PERFECTLY.
So feel free to comment or make a suggestion or use my personal lice treatment, and tell me what YOU think about it. I sincerely hope this helps other parents and kids out there too 🙂
Ladies & Gentlemen,
I just took care of the lice on my 6 year old’s head. Funny enough, I believe they were already dead when found. She had a few small lice, I think they were young, no eggs to be found. I think that she picked them up in the last day or two and didn’t complain of an itchy head until this morning. Last night was hair-wash night (we don’t wash hair daily). I make my own shampoo, generally with some of the very same components mentioned above. So this morning she said her head was itchy and she mentioned the word lice (what 6-year-old mentions lice without having heard about it recently-usually after being exposed?), I did a dutiful check.
And uh-oh, what do we have here? Lice. Funny enough it appeared like they do after being treated and picked-out with a comb. Anyway, I did treat her with the OTC stuff, which I hate doing (why didn’t I look here first?!), just to be sure they were gotten rid of. Anyway, I picked with a nit comb and washed and rinsed. In any case, I do believe they were already dead and no eggs were found… why? Well when my daughter said her head itches, my first thought was that she likely didn’t rinse the shampoo (combo of Castile soap, baking soda, coconut milk, tea tree and lavender) or conditioner (combo of apple cider vinegar, water, tea tree, lavender) out of her hair well enough- which she has a habit of doing (she’s six and fiercely independent). Turned out that might have been a good thing, she likely suffocated the things overnight and the tea tree and lavender probably killed the little booger’s. Combing through with a nit comb, got rid of the bodies.
Anyway, just throwing it out there- I did the germiphobe freak and went OTC with my OCD, and it likely wasn’t even necessary. Thanks for the post!
Thank you for the informative post. My 12 year old girl contracted lice after staying over at a friends house. I have tried a bunch of treatments, and even tried to use mayo to see if it would work. So far they seem to keep coming back. I will be trying your method of shampoo and tea tree oil; hopefully this time it works for good! Thanks!
Thanks for sharing i must give it a try
I am a grandmother, raising 2 granddaughters never in my life have I had HEAD LICE!! , but thy sure get it in the blink of an eye I have been fighting the for awhile now calling there dr. Spending $. On OTC nothing worked till yesterday got on here and read so much…. Did the salt and vigner , salt didn’t melt, did Epsom salt instead and put that on her head and boy what a merical ! Washed out with headnshoulders shampoo with tee tree oil and mint already in it.will be using this shampoo for now on… Also I didn’t no that lice would rehatch every 10 days . Wanted to say thankyou to everybody for teaching me what I didn’t know about LICE !!! Hopefully it stays gone . So I tell my granddaughter say good by to your little pets… Thankyou all again
Please tell me the best thing to completely get rid of head lice and keep it from coming back and what to spray on their head and hair before they go to school. Also the best treatment for body lice. Please send me the information on my e-mail.
Hi I’ve always wanted to start my own parenting self care blog using natures remedies I actually tried on myself and children and share w my world. I still Hope to start a Blog one day. I’ve studied herbs for years managed health food Shops Single mom of two growing boys and many many hats. I got lice .I got lice mommy got lice but my teenage kids won’t let me check heads and one son has long red hair hes trying to grow dreadlocks lol. Funny because the only reason I didn’t dread my red hair was fear of lice. Many a deadhead had to shave his or her hair if lice got in them and often they were traumatized.
HELPFUL TIPS FROM TWO HUGE LICE OUTBREAKS: well well pyrethrum lotions provide temp relief aren’t going to kill your child and give you a break from the horror that is lice. They do seem to kill everything living for 42 hrs then it happens they start moving. Maybe they just got knocked out or maybe new babies hatched but they are back. After course two w pythrentns Ris Store brand( make no mistake rid, nix and Walmart no name brand etc are exact same thing no matter what box claims. None kill any eggs and like she says rarely do they do much good
So the first week rid generic did do well so well I was thinking I’m done.
In the meantime I bought organix tea tree and peppermint shampoo a MUST HAVE and hask Rosemary and mint conditioner MUST HAVE TO keep lice at bay ( I’m running low)
Supplies when rid and combing fail because sadly they will.
MUST HAVE BIGGEST BOTTLE OF TEA TREE OIL EVER
SMALL BOTTLE PEPPERMINT OIL
SMALLER BOTTLE OF LAVENDER/ optional peppermint is slightly optional but soothes itching scalp so well I highly recommend it
Next dollar store plastic shower caps, tons of them
Cheap conditioner for combo it’s from dollar store
Huge giant bottles of BLUE LISTERINE YES BLUE IGNORE THE YELLOW HYPE
COCONUT OIL ANY HARD SOFT DOESNT MATTER SOFT IS EASIER THOUGH IS PRE MELTED
BAGS FOR LAUNDRY
ZIP BLOCK BAGS TO FREE HAIR STUFF COMBS HAIR DECORATIONS ETC
DRYER IF U DONT HAVE ONE IM SO SORRY YOULL HAVE TO PAY FOR ONE OUCH CRY IVE BEEN THERE THANK GOD NO MORE
A GOOD LICE COMB
to start take a few drops of peppermint oil and rub on your hands then run through child or person treated scalp. If it’s tingling severely you should do the oil treatment first you have open bites
Mix 3-5 depending on hair length mines Super Long i use 5 short Boys hair maybe 1-2 TBS coconut oil heat until liquid allow to cool a bit to touch add one reason per each tablespoon of tea tree oil to brown or pan. Add any desired amount of peppermint and lavender but it’s ok if u can’t afford this step TEA TRESS IS A MUST
COMPLETELY SATURATE CHILD ADULT YOU HAIR FROMM ROOT TO ENDS IN OIL MIXURE AND YOULL MAKE A HUGE MESS WEAR OLD CLOTHES AND KEEP MOP HANDY
PUT ON PLATIC SHOWER CAP. IF U HAVE SOME TOWEL TURBAN WEAR IT TO BED. I START EARLY 5pm or so because I want to wash it out in early AM so you need 12 for suffocation of everything. ( btw tea tree can kill eggs)
In morning you can comb out oils using nit comb , this part is so dreadful. U need a very old rag or towel to wipe it on to throw away later the comb don’t through comb away just rags u wipe it on.
NEXT SHOWER W TEA TREE OIL SHAMPOO BY ORGANIX ( I’m running low I might skip but u guys don’t skip I’m not done w this second breakout in s decade
Ok USE THE ROSEMARY HASK CONDITIONER OR A HEATH FOOD STORE HERBAL ROSEMARY PLUS OILS LISTED CONDITIONER OR TEA TREE CONDITIONER OK?
You should see most gone no activity and tons of relief but it’s not over yet
Every 7 days you have to repeat the coconut oil mixture on hair
Now to really kill them is THE BLUE LYSTERINE ON DAY 6 ( or as many times u can stand it) pour a full amount of listerine over the hair and scalp making certain it’s saturated
Put on shower cap sit in warm bath for 20 minutes ( give kids toys)
Reason being the LYSTERINE drips a TON AND THIS STUFF KILLS MORE LICE THST PRESCRIPTION MEDS DO. 20 mins more if u can sit long enough.
Just repeat steps as often as you want but at least weekly every 7 days
To save money on lice free shampoos get organix like of tea tree and mint shampoo and conditioner works great.
Substitute only w Health Food items the rest do not contain enough essential oil.
Buy oils in bulk. I love my oils they work for so much
That being said I did still use Rid and the first time using it it lasted about 4-5 days even w combing second time 32-42 hrs. Look prescriptions are very convenient and might help slightly but you might try listening method to get your child back to school earlier. If they don’t have sores.
But the drugs fail. Essential oils and LYSTERINE work
One last thing LYSTERINE is actually more powerful than coconut oil tea tree killing but it’s drying so I choose that for myself to use lastly.
Why did God create lice? I hope this helps, oh the LYSTERINE has camphor menthol and other very deadly things to lice but won’t kill eggs( since I can’t nit pik my entire head by myself it could take me 2-3 months to get rid of them I’m at 1.5 months but I didn’t use LYSTERINE and didn’t use oil often enough ideally do it every time you feel something crawling. Break out LYSTERINE or oils and sleep on them DONT for get to wash mainly pillows. I washed everything but doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. I was live free washed everything dried on high, rebound lice 42 hrs later GOD AND CHRIST BLESS