Home Remedy for Head Lice

Updated November 21, 2016

Head lice are insects that make their home in human hair. True parasites, they survive by way of body heat released through the head and nutrition obtained from blood taken from the human scalp. Head lice is a common problem among school aged children since it is spread through close personal contact and by sharing things such as hair brushes and hats. Long before the development of prescription medications and over the counter treatments, people were effectively treating their children for head lice. Home remedies are inexpensive and, when used properly, very effective for combating a lice infestation.

Method 1

Begin by thoroughly coating the hair of the infested individual in olive oil. With gloved hands, massage the oil into the scalp and ensure all portions of the hair are completely covered. Wrap the entire scalp in plastic cling wrap or a shower cap and allow the oil to remain on the hair overnight. The oil and cling film will cause all living lice to suffocate. In the morning, wash the hair in a shampoo which has been formulated for oily hair. Rinse the shampoo away and then cover the hair and scalp with white vinegar. Allow the vinegar to remain on the scalp for at least 5 minutes, giving the acid in the vinegar time to dissolve any eggs. Then rinse the vinegar away with warm water. For the next four days, wash the hair as normal, but repeat the vinegar rinse. On day five, check the hair for living lice; if any insects are found, repeat the entire procedure.

Method 2

Method 2 is similar to method one in that it uses a heavy oil to smother the live bugs and a dilute acid to kill the eggs, but it is slightly less expensive since it uses store brand mayonnaise, rather than olive oil. Additionally, it contains tea tree oil, which acts as an insect repellent. This added element helps prevent reinfestation through eggs that may be found on other objects such as pillows and hair brushes. To use method 2, combine two cups of mayonnaise and ΒΌ cup of vinegar in a bowl. Add eight to ten drops of tea tree oil to this mixture and apply it to the hair and scalp. All portions of the hair must be completely coated, so make more of the hair treatment if necessary. Pile treated hair on the top of the head and cover with cling film or a shower cap. Leave the cap on for six to eight hours. When it's time to remove the plastic, unclip the hair and comb through it with a fine tooth comb, rinsing the comb regularly to remove the dead bugs. Rinse the hair with cool water until it runs clear. Repeat the entire procedure in seven days to be certain the lice have been eradicated.


While waiting to rinse your hair, add 15 drops of tea tree oil to your favourite shampoo to help prevent future infections. If you're unsure where the infestation originated, it's probably a good idea to use treated shampoo on a regular basis as a preventive measure. Also, if you have any tea tree oil remaining once you have treated your hair and your shampoo, mix 25 drops into one cup of water and pour the resulting solution into a spray bottle. Spritz the medicated water on your pillows, bedding, hats and hairbrushes.

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About the Author

Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.