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Natural Remedies & Aromatherapy for Head Lice

Updated on March 8, 2011
Where to look for head lice.
Where to look for head lice.

The Buzz About Headlice

If you have school-aged children, chances are you'll have at least one run-in with head lice over the next few years, if you haven't already. Try these natural remedies to rid yourself of the lice themselves, as well as the eggs, without the harsh chemicals or added fillers of over-the-counter products.

A common household remedy for lice is to coat all your hair in petroleum jelly to suffocate the tiny organisms, and cover the head with a shower cap overnight. However, petroleum jelly is very difficult to get out of your hair after use, and may not successfully rid you of all the eggs, though it may make them easier to comb out.

An old wives' cure calls for a similar procedure with caster oil or mayonnaise, but leaving mayo on your head overnight is unwise, considering the risk of salmonella, and oil alone does not repel future infestations if your child is re-exposed the next day

Natural Cures That Work

Instead, combine oil with aromatherapy to both kill existing lice, and prevent their return. Lice infestations sometimes run rampant in schools for weeks, or even months, so this daily rinse will keep your child safe, without having to miss out on any classes.

Add ten drops of each of the following essential oils to an empty two-ounce bottle:

  • lavender
  • eucalyptus
  • rosemary
  • peppermint
  • tea tree

Then, fill to the top with a carrier oil, such as apricot kernel, jojoba, almond, or even the olive, peanut or safflower oil that you cook with! Cap the bottle, place it between your palms, and roll back and forth between your hands for several minutes to combine. (It is a good idea to repeat this before every use.) To apply, add a few drops of this mixture to a cup of water. Rinse hair with this mixture every night, massaging into the scalp, to relieve itch, kill lice, and reduce your risk of future infestation.

Another effective tool for fighting lice is to prepare an infusion of bitterwood bark, and spray this on your child's hair every morning before school. Bitterwood (also known as Simaruba, Palo Amargo, Quassia Amer, or Quassia Amara) should be available by the pound at your local natural pharmacy or health food store, as well as online.

Bring two cups of water to the boil, remove from heat, and add a quarter of a cup of bitterwood bark chips. Let stand until cool, then strain out the bark and pour into a sprayer bottle, adding a quarter of a cup of witch hazel. Spray this "tea" through your child's hair and onto the scalp each morning to repel lice.

Parting Words

Remember, lice can also live for up to 24 hours away from their host, so it is a good idea to wash all sheets and clothing the child has come in contact with, as well as placing pillows and stuffed animals in a plastic garbage bag and sealing it for a week to make sure your environment is louse-free.

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    • profile image

      Misty 6 years ago

      I have a roommate that has head lice and she trys every thing to get rid of it mayo,oil and takes a shower every day for an hour and combs it for five hours next thing you know I got and I can't get rid of it and neither can she so we went to a doctor and got a bottle of crap that was 198 dollars what a rip it didn't even work but thanks to this web site I have an idea.

      Thanks hub

    • jamiesweeney profile image

      jamiesweeney 6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      This is great hub. I've learn something new. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      amanda 8 years ago

      I have dreadlocks,this way works wonderful for me and for the kids,thankyou so very much xx

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      I never would have thought of this. So far, no issue with my children but you never know when I'll need this.

      Thank you.

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 10 years ago from DC Area

      I'll keep a tab on this hub! Thanks, Maddie :)

    • Lela Davidson profile image

      Lela Davidson 10 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas

      Yay for this! I am writing a series on lice too and this is awesome. I'm going to link to this Hub. Also, plain old conditioner works just as well as petroleum jelly and mayo/olive oil to immobilize lice and make nits easier to comb out. Plus, the pesticide shampoos do NOT always work! Mechanical nit removal combined with these methods is your best bet!

      Thanks, Maddie!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Great Hub, Maddie - I use Tea Tree Oil for many things; never thought about head lice, but works for dandruff. 

    • MM Del Rosario profile image

      MM Del Rosario 10 years ago from NSW, Australia

      Hi Maddie,

      Very informative, thanks.

      MM

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 10 years ago from Seattle

      While working in a school that promotes a chemical-free lifestyle, we had a horrid lice "epidemic"--quite fun. I didn't end up with lice, but I used many of the essential oils you mentioned here, along with covering my hair with a silk scarf, as a precaution. Others in the community, who did get it, used these methods also, and they were effective. Good hub.

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