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Home Remedies for Head Lice: What Works?

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  • Hearing the News: Your Child Has Lice

    Hearing the News: Your Child Has Lice

    If your child just got back from an overnight with friends or school and your child or a parent tells you that one of the kids has lice, there’s no need to panic. While they can spread, they don’t carry disease—and they don’t mean that you or your child are in any way “unclean.” 

  • Your Treatment Options

    Your Treatment Options

    To treat lice, there are times when all you need to do is use a lice comb to comb your child’s hair every morning and evening for three weeks. You can combine the combing with some easy—although sometimes messy—home treatments. From tea tree oil to simple olive oil, there are numerous home remedies. Click through the slideshow to find out what actually works!

    Read reviews on lice products and find the best one for you »

  • Smother the Lice!

    Smother the Lice!

    Nearly all home remedies rely on some method to suffocate the lice. Using an effective home remedy is probably preferable to putting harsh chemicals on your child’s head. Here are some of the natural “suffocating” or “smothering” treatments that work well if you follow the instructions.

    It’s important to note that some experts believe that the combing does most of the work. The “suffocating” treatments just stun the lice and make them slower and easier to catch on the comb.

  • Comb and Oil Treatment: Step 1

    Comb and Oil Treatment: Step 1

    Coat the hair with olive or almond oil. (Vaseline and mayonnaise are not recommended—they are unnecessarily messy, and both can be difficult to wash out.)

    Some people suggest coating the comb instead of the hair and re-applying the oil as needed. You may have to try both methods to see which works best for you.

    Separate the hair into small sections, using a hair clip to move them out of the way. Work under a good light so you can see what you’re doing. Rinse out the comb often under running hot water as you go. 

  • Comb and Oil Treatment: Step 2

    Comb and Oil Treatment: Step 2

    Once you have completely combed out your child’s hair, use their regular shampoo, rinse, and repeat. Make sure you wash all the towels used and clean out the lice comb. You can soak it in a 10 percent bleach solution or 2 percent Lysol solution for 30 minutes and rinse very well. Alternatively, you can soak the comb in vinegar for 30 minutes or boil it in water for 10 minutes.

    Follow this procedure every day for a week. Then, for the next two weeks, comb through your child’s hair every night to make sure the lice are gone.

  • Essential Oil Treatment

    Essential Oil Treatment

    A number of essential oils have been shown to be effective—along with combing—in eliminating head lice. Before you use any essential oil, put a small drop on the back of your child’s hand. Although it’s rare, some kids have allergic reactions to these oils—specifically tea tree oil. If your child is allergic to one, move on to the next oil on the list. 

  • The Essential Oil Treatment: Step 1

    The Essential Oil Treatment: Step 1

    In order of most to least effective, the essential oils to try include:

    • tea tree oil
    • lavender oil
    • neem oil
    • clove oil
    • eucalyptus oil
    • aniseed oil
    • cinnamon leaf oil
    • red thyme oil
    • peppermint oil
    • nutmeg oil

    Mix 2 ounces of olive oil with 15 to 20 drops of the essential oil. Apply to the scalp using cotton balls. Leave this mixture on the scalp and hair overnight—at least 12 hours. Alternatively, mix the 15 to 20 drops of essential oil in 4 ounces of rubbing alcohol. Place the mixture in a spray bottle and saturate the hair with it, leaving in 12 hours.

  • The Essential Oil Treatment: Step 2

    The Essential Oil Treatment: Step 2

    The following morning, comb out your child’s hair. Then, shampoo, rinse, and repeat. Once the lice have been eliminated, the alcohol – essential oil spray can be used as a preventive treatment. Remember—combing out the hair is absolutely essential to removing the lice! 

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