Essential Oils For Lice

People often choose chemical treatments or highly concentrated solutions to get rid of these blood-sucking parasites. But did you know that essential oils could be the magic formula to eliminate these freeloaders?

Yes, this can come as a complete surprise, but essential oils can treat head lice effectively. Read further to know more.

Do you regularly encounter these hair monsters? Are you often embarrassed to open your hair in public? If yes, it’s time to get yourself some help.

But before we proceed to the oils, let’s understand the causes of head lice.

What Causes Head Lice?

There’s a myth that goes around stating lice can travel the distance of 7 pillows in just one hour! Isn’t this amusing, considering the size of these parasites?

Head lice can be contagious. Following are the ways they may infect your head:

  • Keeping your head close to an infected person’s head
  • Sharing items like towels, combs, pillows, caps, etc. with an infected person
  • In rare cases, you may get infected from furniture and beds that carry the lice.

Following are the essential oils you can use for relief.

10 Best Essential Oils For Treating Head Lice

1. Peppermint Oil

You Will Need
  • 4 tablespoons of peppermint oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

30 minutes

How To Apply
  1. Combine the peppermint oil with olive oil and apply this mixture onto the scalp. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Brush through your hair with a nit comb to get rid of the dead lice.
  3. Try carrying out this procedure over a sink as the lice may escape quickly.
Why This Works

The menthol content in peppermint oil makes it one of the best coolants for scalp inflammation or itching (1). The strong odor and the insecticidal properties of this oil turn it into a strong lice deterrent. Besides this, peppermint oil also helps in boosting hair growth.

2. Rosemary Oil

You Will Need
  • 8 drops of rosemary oil
  • Any chemical-free shampoo

5 to 10 minutes

How To Apply
  1. Add 5 to 8 drops of rosemary oil to your shampoo.
  2. Make sure to soak each hair strand with this solution and scrub your scalp in and around the roots.
  3. Comb your hair using a nit comb to loosen the eggs from your hair quickly.
  4. Rinse thoroughly.
Why This Works

Rosemary oil contains terpinen-4-ol, a compound that acts as an insecticide.

3. Tea Tree Oil

You Will Need
  • 3 drops of tea tree oil
  • Any chemical-free shampoo

Anywhere between 25 to 30 minutes

How To Apply
  1. Squeeze a quarter size amount of shampoo into your hand and add 2 to 3 drops of tea tree oil.
  2. Gently massage the solution into the scalp.
  3. Leave it on for a few minutes. Rinse your hair thoroughly.
Why This Works

Tea tree oil has antimicrobial and insecticidal properties. It also reduces the number of nits that are hatched. Research has shown that when lice are exposed to tea tree oil for 30 minutes, 100% of the lice die.

4. Clove Oil

You Will Need
  • 4 drops of clove essential oil
  • Any shampoo

5 minutes

How To Apply
  1. Add a few drops of clove oil to the shampoo.
  2. Coat your hair with this mixture and let it stay for 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Use a nit comb to comb through your hair while the shampoo is still on.
  4. If you see any lice, add a few more drops of clove oil.
  5. Rinse your hair thoroughly.
Why This Works

The odor of clove oil can drive lice away. The two components of clove oil, eugenol and beta-caryophyllene, repel the lice from your scalp.

5. Lavender Oil

You Will Need
  • 10 drops of lavender oil
  • 3 tablespoons of any carrier oil like jojoba, coconut, or olive oil
  • 2 hours
  • Repeat the process every alternate day for 10 days
How To Apply
  1. Mix 10 drops of lavender essential oil with any carrier oil and massage this mixture gently onto your scalp.
  2. Shampoo your hair and use a nit comb to remove as many nits as possible.
  3. Rinse your hair thoroughly.
  4. Regular use can be more effective.
Why This Works

The insect-repelling properties of the oil can cut down the risk of lice. The oil suffocates the lice with its smell, thus preventing their proliferation. Results have shown that lavender with tea tree oil works best for this purpose.

6. Neem Oil

You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of neem oil

30 minutes

How To Apply
  1. Mix one tablespoon of neem oil with one tablespoon of coconut oil.
  2. Massage this mixture gently onto the scalp and let it sit for at least an hour.
  3. Rinse it off with a shampoo.
  4. Repeat this every alternate day for a month.
Why this works?

Neem has insecticidal properties that destroy lice. It also soothes an irritated scalp.

7. Aniseed Oil

You Will Need
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 4-5 drops of aniseed oil
  • 3 tablespoons of tea tree oil (optional)

3 hours

How To Apply
  1. Mix all the ingredients and massage the mixture onto the scalp.
  2. Work this solution through the hair from the root to the tip.
  3. Cover your hair with a shower cap and let it sit for 3 hours. If possible, you can leave it on for the entire day.
  4. Comb your hair with a nit comb and rinse it off thoroughly.
Why This Works?

The strong odor from this oil suffocates the lice and keeps them from crawling. When used on a regular basis, this oil keeps the scalp clean and free of lice.

8. Cinnamon Leaf Oil

You Will Need
  • 4-5 drops of cinnamon leaf oil
  • 3 tablespoons of jojoba oil
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Shower cap

4 to 5 hours

How To Apply
  1. Mix well and apply the solution to your entire head.
  2. Cover with a shower cap for 4 to 5 hours.
  3. Comb your hair with a nit comb from the root to the tip.
  4. Rinse your hair twice to remove the dead nits and lice.
Why This Works

Cinnamon leaf oil possesses antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. It also contains benzyl benzoate that helps kill head lice. And the eugenol in the oil has a strong odor that suffocates the lice to death.

9. Red Thyme Oil

You Will Need
  • 10 drops of red thyme oil
  • 4 tablespoons of coconut oil or olive oil

2 to 3 hours

How To Apply
  1. Add 10 drops of red thyme oil in olive oil or coconut oil.
  2. Massage the mixture gently into the scalp.
  3. Use a nit comb to get rid of the dead lice.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with a chemical-free shampoo.
Why This Works

Red thyme oil contains thymol that generates a strong smell, thereby suffocating the lice. It has high cleansing properties that help keep your scalp free of lice. The oil also helps in hair growth and treats inflammation.

10. Nutmeg Oil

You Will Need
  • 3-4 drops of nutmeg essential oil
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil

3 to 4 hours

How To Apply
  1. Mix the solution and apply to your scalp
  2. liberally.
  3. Comb through with a nit comb to remove the dead nits and lice.
  4. Rinse your hair thoroughly.
Why This Works?

The anti-inflammatory properties of nutmeg ease redness of the scalp. The spice also incinerates the lice and keeps them suffocated, thereby hampering their breeding.

Head lice can be troublesome, but with the right hair care regimen and regular oiling, you can get rid of them altogether. Use these essential oils to get the best results.

Here are a few tips for you!

  • The standard dose for using essential oils is 10 drops.
  • Do not inhale them for too long as they may cause headache, dizziness, or nausea.
  • Take 1 to 2 drops of the essential oil and rub it onto the roots where you can spot the lice. You can even apply a little behind your ears.
  • Brush your hair twice daily to disrupt the movement of the lice.
  • Along with the essential oil, you may also use an anti-lice shampoo.
  • Always ensure you dilute the essential oils before use. You can use water or oil or even shampoos and conditioners for this purpose. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can affect your skin if used undiluted.
  • After massaging your hair with essential oils, rinse your hair thoroughly. Leaving them on for too long may weigh your hair down.
  • Choose a reputed brand. And do a patch test before use.

So, that’s with the essential oils! What are your thoughts on them? Have you tried any? Let us know in the comments section below.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Who is at the risk of getting head lice?

Children are susceptible to head lice more often than adults. Anyone who comes in head-to-head contact with an infected person is at a higher risk as well.

How do you identify head lice?

Part your hair into sections and comb through the length using a nit comb. Comb especially behind the ears and around the neck.

What if I see nits after treatment?

It’s normal. These nits are dead cells. As long as you use these essential oils regularly, you have nothing to worry about.

How long can head lice survive?

Without a host, head lice cannot survive for more than 24 hours.
Nits can live up to a week.
Lice can live up to 30 days, feeding off the human head.

Do head lice spread disease?

No, although they can cause itching, redness, and scalp sores.

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