Six to 12 million kids in the U.S. get head lice each year. Head lice are a common occurrence and NOT an indication of poor hygiene.
Head lice are wingless insects, just 1.6 millimeters long that live close to the scalp, laying their eggs (called nits). Head lice need blood from the human scalp to survive, which is why they do not survive for long after they fall off a person’s head.
Though head lice infestation can occur in anyone irrespective of age or gender, it is most common among children ages three to 14.
It spreads easily from one person to another through with contaminated hair, brushes, combs, clothing or bedding. Common symptoms of head lice are a feeling that something is crawling on the head, an itchy scalp and sometimes red bumps on the scalp.
If you or someone in your family develops head lice, you must take care of the problem immediately. Nit picking and combing your hair with a nit comb can help a lot.
But these methods can take a long time and are most effective when the problem is caught early. Fortunately, there are many natural home treatments to get rid of head lice.
Here are the top 10 ways to get rid of head lice.
A very easy and effective treatment to eliminate head lice is vinegar. The high amount of acetic acid present in vinegar can successfully kill head lice. Plus, the vinegar helps dissolve dead nits.
- Mix equal amounts of vinegar and mineral oil. Apply this mixture to your scalp and hair before going to bed. Cover your head and hair with a shower cap and leave it on overnight. The next morning, wash your hair with your regular shampoo.
- Alternatively, dilute vinegar with an equal amount of water and use the solution to rinse your freshly shampooed hair. Leave it on for 10 minutes, and then wash your hair again with fresh water.
Use either of these treatments two or three times a week for two months. Also, comb your hair thoroughly with a nit comb after using these remedies.
Another popular home treatment for head lice is mayonnaise. Mayonnaise can successfully suffocate the little monsters and eventually kill them. The Minnesota Department of Health even lists mayonnaise as an acceptable method for treating head lice.
- Coat your hair thoroughly with mayonnaise.
- Cover it tightly with plastic or a shower cap. You can even wrap a towel over the plastic.
- Leave it on for a minimum of five to six hours.
- Wash your hair well with your regular shampoo.
- Dry your hair using a hair dryer as the hot air ensures the lice are dead.
- Use a nit comb to remove the lice and nits.
- Repeat once a week for about two months.
3. Coconut Oil
This kitchen staple is an excellent smothering agent and also good for your hair. Coconut oil will suffocate the lice and eventually kill them.
- Warm up three tablespoons of coconut oil and add a little camphor to it.
- Apply this oil all over your head, and massage it into your scalp.
- Cover your head and hair with a shower cap and leave it on overnight.
- The next morning, wash your hair with shampoo. When dry, comb it with a nit comb.
- Use this treatment daily for five days to eradicate lice.
Onions can be used as a natural remedy to treat head lice. Onions are high in sulfur that kills head lice.
- Grind four to five onions in a blender or food processor to make a paste.
- Put the paste on a sieve and press it with a spoon to extract the juice.
- Massage your scalp with the juice, and cover your head with a shower cap.
- Leave it on for at least two hours.
- Shampoo your hair thoroughly with lukewarm water.
- Dry your hair and use a nit comb to remove all the head lice.
- Repeat this treatment for daily for three consecutive days, and then do it once a week for two months to completely eliminate head lice.
5. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a natural insecticide that can effectively kill head lice and help soothe the itching.
- Mix together three to five drops of oil for every one ounce of shampoo. Use the mixture to shampoo your hair. When dry, use a nit comb to remove the lice. Use this mixed shampoo for at least two months.
- Alternatively, mix three tablespoons of olive oil and one teaspoon of tea tree oil. You can also add one teaspoon of eucalyptus oil. Apply the solution on your hair and scalp thoroughly. Leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes, and then shampoo your hair. Use this treatment twice a week for one to two months.
Note: Be careful when using tea tree oil as it is quite strong.
6. Lemon Juice
Lemon juice can also be used to remove lice and nits from the scalp due to its acidic nature. It’s also very effective at preventing an infestation if your school or daycare has told you that lice was found on other children.
- Apply some fresh lemon juice to the scalp. Leave it on for 30 minutes, then rinse it off with vinegar and then with lukewarm water. Use this treatment once a week to prevent a lice problem.
- To eliminate lice, add one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to a fine paste of four large garlic cloves. Apply this mixture on the head and massage thoroughly around the scalp. Wrap the hair in a thick towel and leave it on for half an hour. Then, rinse it off with water and then wash with shampoo. Repeat for five consecutive days to kill head lice.
Neem, also known as Indian lilac, is a natural insecticide that can be highly effective in the treatment of lice. It can also heal the scalp irritations caused by constant scratching on the head. Plus, it has moisturizing properties so it will not dry out the scalp.
- Apply a paste of neem leaves on your hair and scalp. Allow it to dry, and then rinse your hair. Do this at least twice a week for two months.
- Alternatively, massage some pure neem oil onto your hair and scalp. Leave it on for at least one hour. Wash it out with shampoo. When your hair is dry, use a nit comb to remove the lice and nits. Use this treatment three times a week for one to two months.
- You can also grind neem seeds into a fine powder. Mix one tablespoon of the powder with enough groundnut oil to make a thick paste. Apply it on your scalp and leave it on overnight. Wash it out the next morning. Do this once a week for two months.
8. Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol, a solvent containing 70 percent isopropyl or absolute alcohol, can effectively kill lice and nits. This powerful disinfectant is safe to use.
- Bend over a tub or basin and pour a little rubbing alcohol onto your hair.
- Use your fingers to spread the rubbing alcohol around your scalp and throughout your hair.
- Leave it on for a few minutes.
- Now rub some conditioner onto your scalp.
- Use a long-toothed comb to brush out all the lice.
- Then shampoo your hair.
- Use this treatment once a week for one or two months.
9. Petroleum Jelly
Petroleum jelly can also have a stifling effect on lice, hence it can be used to get rid of lice quickly. Petroleum jelly will suffocate the bugs by clogging their breathing holes, making it impossible for them to survive for very long.
- Apply a thick layer of petroleum jelly on the scalp and hair.
- Then cover your head with a close-fitting shower cap.
- Leave it on overnight.
- In the morning, use baby oil to remove the petroleum jelly.
- Then wash your hair thoroughly with your regular shampoo.
- When your hair dries, use a nit comb to remove any nits and lice.
- Repeat once a week for one to two months.
According to Ayurveda, almonds are one of the most effective home treatments to remove lice.
- Soak 10 almonds in water overnight.
- The next morning, peel and grind the almonds into a thick paste.
- Mix three tablespoons of lemon juice into the paste.
- Apply the paste on the scalp thoroughly.
- Leave it on for about two hours.
- Wash it off thoroughly with cold water.
- Use this treatment once a week for two months.
With patience and diligence, you can easily get rid of head lice. These additional tips will help stop the spread of lice:
- Do not share anything belonging to the affected person.
- Keep combs and brushes used by an affected person separate from others.
- After treating lice, wash all clothing and bedding used by the affected person in hot water.
- Seal all the non-washable items used by the affected person in plastic bags for a week.
- Vacuum all upholstery, mattresses and carpets.
- Once in a while, comb your hair with a nit comb.