It starts with an itch that keeps getting worse. You can literary feel something crawling all over your scalp. The constant irritation makes it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. These are some of the signs to indicate that you may be dealing with head lice. But what is the best home remedy for lice?
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How does someone end up with head lice?
Head lice are tiny insects that invade the scalp and feed on human blood.
They spend their entire lives on your scalp because they can’t fly and aren’t airborne.
It’s easy to get head lice, and only a few can start an infestation.
They spread from person to person when you come into close contact.
Lice infestation is common among kids because of their close contact in schools, at home, or in play areas.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 6 to 12 million children in the US between the ages of 3 to 11 get head lice annually.
You can also get head lice by sharing hats or brushes, which makes it easy for them to find a new home on your scalp and hair.
Once you get head lice, apart from itching, you’ll notice red bumps all over your head, neck, and shoulders.
They reproduce very fast, and in no time you have an infestation on your hands.
Other members of the family are at risk if you don’t take measures to eradicate them.
Head lice are however not known to transmit any diseases.
What is the best home remedy for lice?
Once you discover that you have head lice, there are several home remedies you can use to get rid of them.
The sooner you take action, the better.
Tea Tree Oil
Many people use tea tree oil for numerous purposes across the world.
Did you know it can be used to kill head lice and prevent a further infestation?
Though more research on its effectiveness is required, so far it shows promising results.
The oil works as an effective natural remedy and is safe to use even on the hair of a child with lice.
The best way to use it is by mixing it with water on a spray bottle.
After mixing, spray it all over the hair and scalp covering every inch of it.
Get a towel and cover the head for some time for it to work.
After about one hour, remove the towel and rinse off the oil from the hair and scalp.
Comb the hair removing as many nits (lice eggs) and lice as you can.
For effective results, repeat the process two days a week.
For thousands of years, human beings have used garlic for all manner of home remedies.
It still proves useful to date even when trying to get rid of head lice.
Whereas garlic has a strong, pungent smell and a bitter taste, it’s also full of anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that help with swelling and redness.
Head lice hate it – making it an effective home remedy.
Prepare it with lime juice in the form of a paste. Take 10 cloves of fresh garlic and put them in a blender.
Pour in 2-3 teaspoons of lime juice and blend to a pulp.
Section your hair, apply the mixture to your scalp – covering every inch of your scalp.
Let it sit for about 30-45 minutes.
Once the time is up, rinse your scalp and hair using warm water then comb the hair with a fine-tooth comb.
You can opt to do this procedure twice a week.
Olive oil is probably the most popular home remedy for removing lice and keeping them away from your scalp.
This oil has been around for centuries as a home remedy with many functions.
You’ll need a generous amount to cover your hair and scalp thoroughly in a bid to suffocate the lice.
Start by sectioning the hair. Follow this by saturating both the hair and scalp with olive oil.
It can get messy, but the results are worth it.
The lice and nits remain under the oil with no air to breathe.
Leave the oil on for about 30 minutes to make sure all the head lice are dead.
Comb out the dead insects and wash your hair with a good shampoo to remove the excess oil.
You can repeat the process 3 to 4 times in a week to be sure all the lice are gone.
Apart from helping to get rid of lice, olive oil benefits your hair and scalp in many ways.
Many home remedies that work to get rid of head lice do so by suffocating the insects and their eggs.
It’s precisely how petroleum jelly works through its thick consistency.
You need to use a lot of it to cover the whole scalp, and things might get a little greasy.
For the best results, scoop out a generous amount of petroleum jelly and apply it all over your scalp.
After that, put on a shower cap or wrap the head with a towel.
You can opt to wait for about an hour or stay with the petroleum jelly on your scalp overnight.
In the morning, comb out the dead lice and nits then shampoo your hair to remove the petroleum jelly.
You can do this twice or thrice a week to make sure the head lice are completely gone.
Onions are a common home remedy, especially when it comes to hair care.
Many people use it as part of their hair care routine because onion juice has many benefits such as reducing dandruff and promoting hair growth.
It also comes in handy when treating lice infestations.
Like garlic, onions are bitter and have a strong smell. Their anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties work to soothe the inflamed, itchy scalp due to lice.
To make onion juice, take five onions, peel them and chop into small pieces.
Place the slices in a juicer and extract the juice.
In case you don’t have a juicer, you can opt to make a mixture of lemon juice paste using a blender.
Put the chopped onions in a blender and add in three tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.
Blend into a consistent paste. Coat your scalp with the onion and lemon juice paste.
Leave it on for 4 hours which is ample time for all the lice and eggs to die.
Comb all of them out then shampoo your hair to remove the strong smell of onions.
For good results, repeat this process after 3 to 4 days.
You don’t need to have a juicer or a blender to make onion juice. You can use the method shown in the video below:
This oil is derived from the eucalyptus tree which is mainly found in Australia.
It has a wide range of uses – from promoting the healing of wounds to clearing sinuses to soothing sunburns.
This essential oil has been hailed for its hair benefits such as fighting dandruff, stimulating the scalp and improving hair elasticity.
Eucalyptus oil can also be used as a treatment for head lice.
A 2017 study compared the safety and efficacy of a head lice treatment containing Australian eucalyptus oil and Leptospermum petersonii – a lemon-scented tea tree.
For best results add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to a carrier oil such as olive oil and apply the oil on your scalp.
Put on a shower cap and leave it on overnight.
In the morning, comb your hair to remove the dead lice and nits.
Cleanse your hair and scalp after you’ve removed all the lice.
For many people, coconut oil is the answer to many hair-related issues.
The same goes for when you have a lice infestation at hand and need a home remedy.
By far using coconut oil on head lice has proven as an effective way to get rid of them for good.
Coconut oil has lauric acid in it, which is deadly to lice and nits.
It’s advisable to use it on a sensitive scalp that can’t stand stronger treatment options.
For the best results, get a lot of coconut oil, as well as a shower cap.
Coat your hair and scalp with as much coconut oil as possible.
Ensure the coconut oil is in liquid form for optimum results.
Once you apply it, thoroughly massage it all over your scalp and hair.
Put on the shower cap and leave it on for 8 hours.
You can do this at night and sleep with the cap.
In the morning, take a fine-toothed comb and comb out all the dead lice and nits.
Shampoo your hair and repeat the process 2 – 3 times a week for the best results.
The best thing about home remedies is that most of them are natural and safe. Mayonnaise is a good example.
It’s one of the best ways to kill lice and nits without using harmful products. It’s 100% safe on your child’s scalp.
Mayonnaise is made using raw eggs, vegetable oil, and vinegar.
These are safe ingredients that benefit your hair and scalp.
Coating your hair with this thick consistency ensures you suffocate all the lice and nits.
Start the process by sectioning your hair.
Coat both the hair strands and scalp with as much mayonnaise as you can.
(Applying on the scalp only leaves the nits attached to the hair – which is an exercise in futility.)
Put on a shower cap and leave it on overnight. Please note that the smell can be a bit overwhelming.
After removing the shower cap, comb your hair with a fine-toothed comb to remove the dead lice and nits.
Wash your hair with a scented shampoo and warm water to help get rid of the strong mayonnaise smell.
Repeat the process twice a week.
Apple Cider Vinegar
In case you’ve always wondered what is the best home remedy for lice, you might be having the answer in your kitchen pantry. Apple cider vinegar. ACV.
ACV has plenty of benefits when it comes to home remedies. Getting rid of head lice is one of them.
It’s also great at balancing the hair’s pH levels, which can be messed up by a vast majority of the shampoos that we use.
ACV can also be useful when trying to get rid of dandruff.
When using ACV to kill the head lice and nits on your scalp, you’ll first need to pour it into a spray bottle.
Use the spray bottle to spray the ACV into your hair and scalp.
Put on a shower cap and leave the wet hair with ACV for about eight hours.
Continue with other activities before the time elapses.
You can even stay with it overnight.
After the time is up, comb your hair to remove all the dead head lice, as well as nits.
Shampoo your hair to remove the apple cider vinegar from your tresses.
Neem oil is beneficial for both your skin and hair.
It’s a perfect home remedy when you want to get rid of head lice.
Neem oil contains azadirachtin – a chemical compound belonging to the limonoid group that is used as an insecticide.
When used to treat lice, the azadirachtin in the neem oil makes your hair and scalp a hostile environment for lice to live in.
According to one study, neem oil offers a complete cure from head lice after a single treatment, if the insects and their eggs are fully covered for about 10 minutes.
For the best results, mix neem oil into your shampoo and use the mixture to cleanse the hair.
Stay for about 10 – 20 minutes before washing off the shampoo.
Use a comb to remove all the dead lice and nits.
Approved treatments for lice infestation
What if the home remedies don’t work?
As much as we’d like home remedies to be the answer we need for treating head lice, you are not guaranteed that they’ll work.
At that point, seeking approved treatments is the right thing to do.
You can buy the right products over the counter or get a prescription from your physician.
Over-the-Counter Lice Treatments
The best lice treatments you can buy over-the-counter medications such as Nix and Rid.
They have proven effective because they contain pyrethrins (Rid) and permethrin (Nix) in them.
Pyrethrins are pesticides found naturally in some chrysanthemum flowers.
They are safe and effective when used as directed.
However, they can only kill live lice, nits. This is why the CDC recommends a second treatment about 10 days after the first treatment to kill any newly-hatched lice before they can produce new eggs.
Permethrin is a synthetic product similar to naturally occurring pyrethrins.
Just like pyrethrins, permethrin lotion kills live lice but not unhatched eggs.
A second treatment is, therefore, necessary after 9 – 10 days to kill any newly-hatched lice.
Permethrin (Nix) should be used on children aged 2 months and above.
Pyrethrins (such as Rid, A-200, Pronto, R&C and Triple X), on the other hand, should be used on children who are 2 years of age and older.
Prescription Lice Treatments
Even over-the-counter medications can sometimes prove ineffective.
If this is the case, it’s time to visit your doctor for a prescription.
There are various products used for treating lice infestations that require a prescription from a licensed physician.
They include Natroba, Sklice, Ovide, and Ulesfia lotion.
Prescriptions cost more than over the counter treatments but they get the job done.
How do you keep lice from coming back?
Lice find it easy to spread from one person to the other.
Even if you deal with the ones on your head but still visit an infected person, they’ll come back.
Ensure you know the source of your infestation.
Is it a colleague? Was it your child who got them from another kid in school?
Did someone borrow your hat and return it without washing (and you went ahead and wore it)?
Only interact with the source after they handle the infestation on their end.
Wash all your beddings and clothes that came into contact with the head lice.
Nits and lice might still be on them and cause a recurring nightmare of infestation.
Teach children the importance of not sharing their clothes while in school.
In case natural remedies don’t yield the desired results, opt to use over-the-counter or prescription medications.
In the unfortunate event that you have to deal with a lice infestation, you can start by trying out natural remedies first.
So, what is the best home remedy for lice? Well, what works for you may not work for me.
Since home remedies are generally safe on your hair and scalp, you can try out several of the natural remedies listed above and see what works for you.
However, in case these home remedies prove ineffective, it’s advisable to seek other treatments.
Head to the drug store and get over-the-counter medications.
In case that still doesn’t cut it, consult your physician to get a prescription for medications that will do the job.
Once you’ve successfully managed to get rid of the head lice and nits, take the necessary measures to prevent another lice infestation.