Tea Tree Oil for Head Lice

Treat (and Prevent) Head Lice: The Natural Way

Kick your shoes off, grab a cup of hot tea or coffee, and let's talk about head lice....

Comfy yet? Good.

Has your child ever come home with head lice? If so, you'll love the inexpensive, natural remedy I'm about to share with you.

Head lice is more than a nuiscance, it's disgusting to think creepy-crawly little critters have taken up residence on yours or your child's head. I'm sure you've tried the various shampoos that are available and it gets kind of expensive too, doesn't it?

I'm here to tell you there's a better way. No, it's not expensive. Nope, it's not hard either. There aren't a lot of hard to follow instructions. You won't have to buy a long list of different ingredients. Are you dying of suspense yet? Ok, ok, I'm going to tell you.

If you were paying attention to the title, you'll know I'm talking about Tea Tree Oil. Essential oils are amazing for every day household uses, or for natural remedies such as this one, for preventing and removing head lice.

Here's a Neat Fact:

Because of its constituents (referred to as terpenoids), Tea Tree Oil is both an antiseptic and has antifungal properties.

Here's what you'll need, and the directions follow.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon Tea Tree Oil
  • 4 tablespoons of Olive oil (or Coconut oil)

Directions:

  1. Mix ingredients together.
  2. Rub into scalp.
  3. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, working to kill lice.
  4. For best results, use nit comb once the 15 minutes is up (before washing hair).

Tea Tree Oil has a cooling effect, so you may experience a tingling sensation similar to menthol, but not nearly as intense.

You can also kill lice living in your clothes, sheets, and blankets by adding 12+ drops of Tea Tree Oil into the washer, along with your detergent.

To follow-up: Repeat these steps within 7-11 days to prevent re-infestation.

For future head lice prevention add:

  • 12 drops Tea Tree Oil to shampoo you normally use
  • or 12 drops to ΒΌ pint water and put in a spray bottle. Mist hair each morning with this solution. Lice do not like this, so hair is kept free of unwanted guests.

Note: You'll end up with leftover Tea Tree Oil as well as Olive or Coconut Oil. You can save it for future head lice battles (which you shouldn't have if you use the preventative recipe), or you could always experiment with other remedies!

Other thoughts: I'm not a medical professional. I've seen this remedy work, but it may or may not work for everyone. As always, make sure you aren't allergic to Tea Tree Essential Oil, Olive Oil, or Coconut Oil. Also, check with your health care professional before trying something new.

Have you tried Tea Tree Essential Oil as a head lice remedy? Did it work for you? Would you try it for the first time? If you've already tried it, would you use it again? I look forward to reading your your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.

Here's to itch-free, lice-free, healthy days!

Comments 36 comments

Mary 8 years ago

Michele,

Excellent advise. I wrote a similar article when I wrote for Suite101. The tea tree oil does work. Great article.


MicheleT profile image

MicheleT 8 years ago Author

Thank you, Mary! I love tea tree oil. It's an amazing little oil that packs a punch! Thanks so much for offering up your positive opinion of this essential oil. And, it's a small world, isn't it? You've enjoyed and written about this very essential oil! :-)


Tina 8 years ago

When I was a teenager, my younger sisters came home with head lice. I bet they would have preferred to try this remedy over the very strong chemical remedy my mother had to use. Thanks for the info!


MicheleT profile image

MicheleT 8 years ago Author

I'm sure they would have much rather used this! :-) I wish they had known about it then... You're welcome for the info. Isn't it wonderful to learn something new? I love learning new things!


Shannon 8 years ago

6 Years ago i learned about using tea tree oil for treating head lice when I worked in a school. knock on wood, I didn't have to use it until today! i found lice on my 5 year old daughter this evening...and then in my hair this morning... being that it was 3 am when I found them on myself, I was not patient enough to make an olive oil/tea trree oil treatment solution, and instead put the tea Tree oil directly on my hair, and then combed it out with a lice comb. I combed out 6 live louse, which died within minutes of being exposed to the oil (yay!!!) I did not find any in my sons' hair, but am going to treat them anyway just to be safe!!!


MicheleT profile image

MicheleT 8 years ago Author

Oh my goodness! It's wonderful that you knew to use it! I personally feel it can be safely used right on the body anyway. Some of the oils really shouldn't be, but I think this is an exception. It's great for really bad skin problems too--like psoriasis. It's also great for acne. :-)

Use it in your laundry for all the bedclothes, etc. Get rid of it all at once. Good luck--and thanks so much for your comment, Shannon!

*smiles*

Michele


Tiffany R. profile image

Tiffany R. 8 years ago

A friend just sent me the link for this article because I discovered that my 3 daughters all have head lice. I had just put the chemical shampoos in their hair, and I wish I had known about the Tea Tree oil before! However, I'm going to use it in the laundry and in their shampoo from now on. I use Tea Tree shampoo myself, and I love it! I'll let you know how it turns out. Thanks for the info.


MicheleT profile image

MicheleT 8 years ago Author

Hi Tiffany!

You're most welcome! Tell your friend I said thank you for sending you this link! I appreciate that. :-)

I will tell you the last girl who used this remedy wasn't able to attend school because of the continuous battle with lice (which she picked up at school) and was really frustrated because she wanted to get back to school. She used the remedy one time and it killed all the head lice. The school was astounded and she was given the ok to come back!

If you keep a few drops of tea tree oil in your girls' shampoo bottle all the time, the lice won't like that and they won't be getting lice again. That's the great thing about natural remedies - they're preventative measures we can take to assure things like lice don't happen to us.

Best of luck with yours and your family's health!

*smiles*

MicheleT


cheryl  7 years ago

hi michelle, i have a 12 oz bottle of shampoo that i want to add the tea tree oil too for lice prevention. how much should i use?


MicheleT profile image

MicheleT 7 years ago Author

Hi Cheryl,

Thanks for your question! You can add 10-15 drops. If you want to try less first, then add more, that'd be alright as well. Hope this helps!

*smiles*

Michele


Beaks 7 years ago from USA

I love the smell of it, too. Even after the problem was gone we continue to use the oil in our shampoo.

I did find out, however, that if boys use it it can cause them to have enlarged breasts. I know that sounds weird, but apparently it mimics estrogen and can mess with a boy's hormonal systems.


MicheleT profile image

MicheleT 7 years ago Author

Hi there, Beaks.... I've never heard that before (about the estrogen). Hmmm... Something to consider investigating, eh? Thanks for sharing that feedback.

I, too, love the smell and I use it all the time as well. I also put it right on the skin for insect bites, etc. It's great! It's nice in the bathwater, too.

Thanks for the comment!

*smiles*

Michele


Sparkie 7 years ago

Hi there Michelle. Thanks for being such a helpful soul. I was with relatives on the weekend and was told today that my niece has head lice. I knew of the tea tree oil being a natural and in-expensive treatment, and your advice has prompted me to use some drops in my leave-in-conditioner as well as my shampoo.

While we're on the subject of hair, you may wish to experiment with something I found that personally reduces hair loss. I eat about 6 - 12 almonds/day (no more generally or they may have a toxic effect,,, apparently), and about a tablespoon of sunflower seeds/day. I soak them for at least 6 hours which makes them easier for the body to digest,,, plus the almonds taste more like macadamia nuts,,, yummy! I find that in less than a week, about a third of the usual amount of molting hair appears on the comb. If I run out of nuts and seeds, it increases back to normal. Worth a try. Hair's to you Michelle!


dixie_a 7 years ago

I have repeatedly treated my girls hair with everything imaginable concoction. I am now abou to try the tea tree oil. Will just adding it to their shampoo and conditioner work, or do I need to put just tea tree oil first?


MicheleT profile image

MicheleT 7 years ago Author

Hi Dixie,

Thanks for your question! I'd definitely use the above recipe for Tea Tree Oil mixed with the oil first. Go ahead and add some to their shampoo as well and use that to wash the oil out of their hair once you've let the remedy set for a few minutes. I'd also go ahead and wash their bed clothes, etc., with 12 drops of the Tea Tree Oil added.

I know children who have been kept out of school for head lice and these very instructions worked immediately and they were allowed to go back to school lice-free.

Hope this helps!


dixie_a 7 years ago

thanks....we have been fighting this for months. I really thought I had it done, but it just won't go away. I will probably do the mixture, shampoo, laundry, and conditioner. To be honest I will probably add some to water and spray their hair daily also for a while.

i am so very glad i found your information


MicheleT profile image

MicheleT 7 years ago Author

You're most welcome. I have seen this work so many times. I believe you'll find sweet relief and lice-free days soon!

*smiles*Michele


Amber 7 years ago

Just want to thank you for this info. My oldest daughter had lice two years ago and we didn't know about this wonderful method and put the nasty chemicals in her hair.

After finding out that both her and my youngest daughter's school were having horrible outbreaks of lice, I wanted to search for a preventative treatment. I had heard tea tree oil mentioned in passing, so I googled it and found your site. We've been using the preventative spray treatment every morning before school and have yet to see a louse or nit in our house.


MicheleT profile image

MicheleT 7 years ago Author

I'm so glad the preventative recipe is working for you - it really is amazing!

Thanks so much for sharing your positive Tea Tree Oil experience with me. Here's to a healthy 2009!

*smiles*Michele


pauline 7 years ago

I recently found a great chemical free tea tree shampoo – which really helped me grow stronger hair –its from the Made from Earth product line called the Tea & Protein Herbal Shampoo….it actiallu has wheat proteins in it and that’s what makes my hair look so full after I use it.

The directions say for the shampoo to work – you have to leave in your hair for 2 - but I usually do it for about 5, since my hair used to be so thin. But 5 minutes really works for me cause I can see a major difference in how thick my hair is…

Even my husband comments on how my hair felt better – and he never notices anything! I recommend it for all healthy women out there who want better full hair.


Michele P 7 years ago

I have been using the tea tree oil shampoo for two weeks now. First I used RID and cleaned all bedding, clothes, floors and funiture then we used the tea tree oil. How long does it take for the tea tree oil to work? We still are having problems with infestation. I was my children's hair every day and we lather up twice, but this doesn't seem to be resulting in no lice. HELP!!!!!!


Michelle 7 years ago

I always use Tea Tree Oil. This is an amazing oil and it does such a great job. I wouldn't recommend anything else. Thanks for the article. Its a great read.


Steven B 7 years ago

My little seven year old has contracted head lice . Myself and the mother do not live together. Trying to get rid of these litlle bugs is something else. We also used store bought remedy but it is not working. I was told that the lice can build up a resistence to the treatment shampoo. Thus so far it has not worked and we seem to be trading lice from house to house. I am trying tea tree oil for the first time. It has seemed to have got my little one to stop icthing at least for the most part. I was able to pick lice out of her hair easy and being oil the lice die , die , die. Now I know where the get the little bugger came from. Thanks for your help. Steven , Ontario


MicheleT profile image

MicheleT 7 years ago Author

@Michele P: I recommend adding the Tea Tree Oil to your bedding and clothes, etc, in the washing machine. You can try that and see how that works. With really bad infestations, it takes a little extra work. I hope it works out well for you! :-D


MicheleT profile image

MicheleT 7 years ago Author

@Michelle: Thank you! :-D


MicheleT profile image

MicheleT 7 years ago Author

@Steven B: You're most welcome. I'm so glad it's working for you!! Here's to lots of lice-free days ahead! :-D


MamaMistie 7 years ago

Thank you so much for this helpful article! We tried everything from the drug store after spending close to $200 they freaking things came back again! UGH! I have some natural remedy books tried the vinegar rinse remedies still came back. Then we tried the Tea Tree Oil! This has worked the best! I am a mother of 3 girls. And was able to get rid of it completely on 2 of my 3. I have only had an issue with nits showing in her hair no bugs! I am just keeping her hair a little greasy since it makes it hard for them to stick. It has been 3 weeks of extra work to rid of this horrible thing. Thanks so much for the tea tree recipes. I hope we can fully rid of this. I did notice some tea tree oil is stronger than other brands. The stronger seems to work the best!


MicheleT profile image

MicheleT 7 years ago Author

@MamaMistie: Yay! I'm SO happy it's helping you! Yes, some brands are stronger than others. I personally use NOW. Have you found a stronger one than that? Please let me know if you did! :-)


kelly 7 years ago

I am really hoping the Tea tree oil works. I have been shampooing and washing the sheets everyday for 3 weeks!! I also comb through and check all 3 kids hair nightly. The boys will rid of it but my daughter can't shake it and then she gives it back to them and then when I head check the boys I will find some. Irritating!!! Today I bought it and head checked and rubbed the treatment in their hair tonight. I also made the oil and water to spray around the house. I like the smell. It smells natural versus chemical. I will spray them in the morning as well. I also put drops in our shampoo. Which I will always do as a preventative. I never want this again!!

Thanks for the help.


MicheleT profile image

MicheleT 7 years ago Author

@Kelly:

Oh, wow. Well, things should get lots better now that you have the Tea Tree Oil. It's wonderful! Are you going to do the recipe I mentioned about adding the olive or coconut oil, too? Also, put some in the washer for their bedclothes, etc., too. Good luck! :-)


Alyssa 6 years ago

Michele,

Do you know if you could use the Tree Tree Oil with the spray bottle on things like furniture or mattresses...things like that?


MicheleT profile image

MicheleT 6 years ago Author

Hi, Alyssa. I'd definitely use it on the mattress(es). If you're worried about the furniture, spray some of it on a small area on the back of the couch or chair (that will never be visible to anyone) and see what happens. I don't believe it would hurt your furniture because it's diluted, but you can test just to make sure. Hope that helps! :-D


Kathryn 6 years ago

i know the last post was 4 months ago but i just got to say i used the olive oil an tea tree oil on my sons hair an i put a shower cap on this head so he wouldn't mess with it and when i removed the shower cap there were the dead lice on the back of his neck! i used all the rid an even quit nits that's suppose to be a natural cream and i got to say i will be using this olive oil an tea tree oil from now on. saved my pocket!


MicheleT profile image

MicheleT 6 years ago Author

Yay, Kathryn! I'm so happy! And I'm so glad you came and shared the positive results with me. Woo hoo!!!!

Yay for lice-free living - and for more money in your pocket!!!

:-)

Michele


Renee 6 years ago

First off thanks for posting this info. My oldest daughter and her cousin come home with lice 2 wks ago. No one else had it and we treated. My daughter has eczema so there's a limit on what I can use on her scalp. I check her all the time b/c of this condition, so I was lucky to catch the lice early. I've never been thankful my daughter has eczema until now. BUT... We were free of it until just 2 days ago. I rechecked heads and my daughter was still in the clear and my cousin was NOT! I've always heard about tea tree oil, but I did not know it could help with her skin condition as well. And its safe for my 2 yr too. We used the mayo method on her and the poor baby was gagging...I'm still concerned about my cousin having reaccuring lice and never being rid of it because of her. I dont' want to cut off contact completely b/c she doesn't understand. I hope this rememdy will work for everyone inside this household and next door.


MicheleT profile image

MicheleT 6 years ago Author

@Renee:

I do believe it will work, and I look forward to your update. Thanks for sharing!!

*smiles*

Michele

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