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How to Get Rid of Head Lice

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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.

how to get rid of head lice


Here are the top 10 ways to get rid of head lice.

1. Vinegar

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.

2. Mayonnaise

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.

  1. Coat your hair thoroughly with mayonnaise.
  2. Cover it tightly with plastic or a shower cap. You can even wrap a towel over the plastic.
  3. Leave it on for a minimum of five to six hours.
  4. Wash your hair well with your regular shampoo.
  5. Dry your hair using a hair dryer as the hot air ensures the lice are dead.
  6. Use a nit comb to remove the lice and nits.
  7. 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.

natural remedy to get rid of head lice

  1. Warm up three tablespoons of coconut oil and add a little camphor to it.
  2. Apply this oil all over your head, and massage it into your scalp.
  3. Cover your head and hair with a shower cap and leave it on overnight.
  4. The next morning, wash your hair with shampoo. When dry, comb it with a nit comb.
  5. Use this treatment daily for five days to eradicate lice.

4. Onions

Onions can be used as a natural remedy to treat head lice. Onions are high in sulfur that kills head lice.

  1. Grind four to five onions in a blender or food processor to make a paste.
  2. Put the paste on a sieve and press it with a spoon to extract the juice.
  3. Massage your scalp with the juice, and cover your head with a shower cap.
  4. Leave it on for at least two hours.
  5. Shampoo your hair thoroughly with lukewarm water.
  6. Dry your hair and use a nit comb to remove all the head lice.
  7. 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.

7. Neem


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

Rubbing alcohol, a solvent containing 70 percent isopropyl or absolute alcohol, can effectively kill lice and nits. This powerful disinfectant is safe to use.

  1. Bend over a tub or basin and pour a little rubbing alcohol onto your hair.
  2. Use your fingers to spread the rubbing alcohol around your scalp and throughout your hair.
  3. Leave it on for a few minutes.
  4. Now rub some conditioner onto your scalp.
  5. Use a long-toothed comb to brush out all the lice.
  6. Then shampoo your hair.
  7. Use this treatment once a week for one or two months.

How to Get Rid of Head Lice was last modified: August 14th, 2018 by Top10HomeRemedies
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77 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Head Lice”

    1. Yes! The one with 70% rubbing alcohol then conditioner over it ten minutes worked! TY God. You can comb it on too with a metal nit comb then wash and condition. Blow drying helps too

    2. Also my boyfriend always use Listerine original mouthwash mix with vinegar in spray bottle…sprayed all over then cover with shower cap leave on for 10 mins then wash out then nit comb through …..

  1. I learned to start a month b4 the school yr/ and later to just use hair mousse in my kids hair after washing. The lice doesn’t want to attach. I went thru a lice episode b4 learning this. Never got it again.

    1. Which moose is this I’m in Scotland don’t know if wee have it available here I feel like everytime I check my daughters hair they are back I’m fighting a loosing battle

      1. Any mousse will do. Or if your daughter has a bit longer hair, once you have applied a treatment and combed through and are sure you have removed all nits and lice, you can always pull her hair back tightly into a bun and spray hair spray on it. The lice can’t get a hold on the hair that way. I did it to my daughter years ago when she was young because it would take me 24 hours to completely go through her hair due its extreme thickness. Once we started pulling her hair back tightly and spraying it, she did not get them again.

  2. Straight vinegar did the job for us. We dipped the lice comb in vinegar and combed thru the hair and it got rid of them. It kills the nits that are left behind. One grandaughter was so infested that we thought we would never get rid of them and we were trying everything we could OTC and home that we could think of/buy. Nothing worked but the vinegar. Glitz

    1. My daughter is 13 long think hair we thought we had her lice gone but she still has them attached to her I see you say straight vinager do you wash after you comb it through

      1. I did straight vinegar over night and as we were washing you can see the adults coming off in the water. I then put conditioner through her whole head and brushed through with the nit comb and they came off with ease. Once it was dry I checked and removed anything left behind. So happy this worked. Then she just added a little gel, mousse or hair spray to her daily hair style. It’s been 2 years and still lice free. 🙂

  3. The herb larkspur works to get rid of head lice. When I was a kid in the 60s our local drug store sold larkspur in a big bottle. when I had kids in school I couldn’t find it any more. You can get the dried herb though and make your own. If you don’t mind the smell another thing that kills head lice is kerosene.

    1. DO NOT EVER USE KEROSENE. there are articles about how fatalities have occurred using kerosene to treat lice. Wherever possible use a natural product so close to the brain.

  4. My daughter has long, curly, extremely thick hair. We have used OTC treatments 4-5x and they keep coming back. The most adults we have ever seen were 4. Thought they were gone and then yesterday afternoon, two more show up. I saw the mayonnaise treatment, so last night I coated her hair in mayonnaise and she slept with 5 hair caps on topped off with a swim cap to make sure the adults suffocated. This morning, she washed her hair in tea tree shampoo and Dishwashing Liquid and then tea tree conditioner. I just spent the last 2-1/2 hours combing through her hair with a not comb. *** So, now I just need confirmation on how to use the vinegar. Should I go ahead and wash her hair in vinegar and put the hair caps on for several hours and then comb through again and do I need to do the vinegar treatment every day for several days OR can we do the vinegar treatment several times in the same day? Then can she wash with shampoo and conditioner?? ** How long do the nits live after vinegar treatment should I miss any?? She’s a teen and ready to spend time with friends. Thank you ALL for any advice!!! Much appreciated!

    1. Yeah I’m trying the alcohol treatment right now, and I’m hoping this works because this is like my fifth or fourth time getting head lice, and they seem to like come and go to yeah. ? ????

    2. i know its not common in teens i am a teen as well with head lice its so annoying but the litering or tooth paste works it kills them and makes it go away fast

  5. Listerine. Sounds weird but it works miracles an helps prevent reinfestation. Just put your child in the tub and pour it on their head. It will feel really cold but just make them sit there for about 3 minutes. If your interested, remove one nit before application and another afterwards. You will see that the listerine eats away their clear bodies and kills them immediately. For maintenance, fill a spray bottle with half water and half listerine. Spritz their hair and this will act like a repellant because they don’t like the mentholated smell. This is a great way to get rid of these pests without dangerous pesticides. I discovered this after my daughter had a serious infestation after a sleepover.

  6. I got lice a few months ago. I used shampoo with tea tree oil in it. Then I would rinse my hair in white vinegar and let that dry overnight. The next morning I would rinse my hair out and coat the wet hair with coconut oil. Using a good lice comb (one with long prongs) I would comb out my hair section by section then turn my hair upside down & comb that way. I did this every day for 2 weeks and the lice were gone. Wash all bedding in hot water. Then each day after that I would throw my bedding in a hot dryer for 30 minutes.

  7. I have washed my hair with lice rinse 2 times and I can still feel like something is still walking around my hair, should I put vinegar in my hair over night an that will do it, thanks Pat

  8. yes I use vinger whenever I get lice which has only been 2 times but both times I tried store bought treatment and it didn’t work than used vinger nightly for a week and it worked like a charm

  9. As with any of the treatments listed, it can’t be just one and done to get rid of the lice. You have to make it a process for the total amount of time that you see it and the whole cycles of them from nits to becoming adults or some in the middle to them laying eggs…2 weeks gives all the phases/cycles a chance to not continue and to make sure you have gotten all of them. I have used some of the sprays that they sell and also vinegar and they both seem to work really well but I also every night go through with a nit comb to see what else I can get. I also dry everything for about 20 minutes for the heat to kill them – pillows or the cases, bedding, coats or hats they will wear again the next day….if it goes on or near your head and you have lice, just try to treat it, so you can get rid of them instead of getting more. Just my experience. It’s a bit of a pain but if you’re diligent they will go away.

  10. I have a 10 year old that had it and what worked for me since his hair is so short is to just using a lice cimb,i combed his hair every other day for 2 weeks,it worked.He is lice free. If u can get rid of the nits (eggs),you will get rid of the lice.

  11. you know what works for head lice use mayonnaise it help how it helps put mayonnaise over hair real good next cover it with a plastic bag or shower cap after leave the mayonnaise on their for about five or six hours then wash your hair real well with the shampoo you have then dry your hair with hair dryer or hair blow dryer finally use a nit comb to remove lice and nits using alcohol isn’t really safe around kids how it can effect them something dangerous.your welcome

  12. I will try this and I hope it works I been having the worst 2 weeks washing and washing that now I am finally confident that this will work

  13. After reading all of the different treatments for Lice, we decided to try the rubbing alcohol. I applied it to my grandaughters hair starting at the scalp. Had to divide hair into very small sections and dab at the roots with a cotton pad and then applying it the full length of the hair. I saturated her scalp and rubbed it into the hair behind her ears and the nape of her neck which is where the most nits were. Alcohol evaporates quickly so we just left it in her hair overnight. Go day saw a huge decline in the amount of nits. Repeated the process the second day, left it in her hair overnight. The third day, we switched to vinegar. I had her dampen her hair and then applied the vinegar with a spray bottle starting at the roots and working into the ends of her hair. Her hair is down past her shoulder blades, so took a little time to apply. Put a shower cap on her head for 4 hours and then rinsed the vinegar out. Checked her hair and did not see even one nit. Did not even have to use the Lice Comb as was advised. Plan on checking her hair everyday, but repeat the vinegar treatment in 1 week to make sure we have killed all of the eggs/nits. I did have her hold a washcloth over her face as I applied the treatments. She never complained of a feeling of burning or stinging while doing the treatment. To me this sounds like the easiest way to get rid of the nits. The combing out can take a lot of patience and a lot of time. So am hoping that just applying the alcohol and then the vinegar did the trick.

  14. That’s interesting that Tea Tree oil is a natural insecticide. It’s great it’s natural and not a harsh chemical. The difference between them is that the oil takes a month or two, which isn’t too big of an issue. I may have lice so I may get an inspection soon.

  15. My great grandMother, my grandmother and my mother, now myself only used rubbing alcohol on our heads when one of our kids had lice….just pour some alcohol over child’s hair just enough to soak the hair and scalp…I usually would wrap Thier head w a white gym Towle just because that what I had in hand…I would leave it for a good hour or so after that I would brush Thier out hair over tub and the lice would fall right out, I would let the hair aortic dry and I would go in and pick out all the nits that was left behind… that’s just the major problem is the nits u miss one and than seems like u gotta start all over again. I have 3 girls and lots of rubbing alcohol…it’s also alot cheaper than the store bought remides I feel really don’t work as well.

  16. Sounds wired but it works pee in a cup then spit in it get some dog poop an mixes it all up an rub thoroughly through hair let seet for 10 mins then wash with shampoo an then nit comb an ur done

  17. OK cool beans! Thanks for the information about how to remove it off a person…. But can I make a spray that I can use to spray on my carpets, beds, couches, curtains etc?!!!! I have a little knowledge of essential oils, I am an aromatherapy student currently.
    I have No cash to work with, but I do have essential oils i can use….
    Again I need to be able to kill lice on my furniture, bedding, carpet not people.

  18. My kids recently contracted lice while at daycare. It seems like lice shampoo would contain a lot of chemicals so I like the tea tree oil alternative you suggested. I will definitely try this on my kids and I might use it as well.

  19. My grandfather had fourteen kids and only used vinegar in all of our hairs rub vinegar through your hair leave on about one hour and then comb hair then pour vinegar into small dish and have a spare dish with water to help clean comb use tissue to wipe comb you will see the nits on tissue dip the comb into vinegar before you put it back in hair you will need to change water several times your hair will be done when there is no more nits on tissue, vinegar is also good to add in rinsing water as it gives a lovely shine you just need a little it also stops head lice coming back .

  20. Trying the petroleum jelly now. I hope this works. I’m a mom of two and have tried OTC remedies, prescriptions, mayo, and several other things. Nothing seems to work. They seem to keep coming back. Not sure what to do. My kids and I are so tired of having to do this every month or so.

  21. Thank you so much! Easy and truly effective! I tried the petroleum jelly one on myself before I did my children’s hair. It really worked! Being skeptical because of trying so many prescription and OTC remedies without results, I was amazed at the results of this one. From the moment I took the shower cap off I immediately saw and felt a difference. Best remedy I’ve found!

    1. So far the best remedy is coconut oil (leave on scalp for at least an hour) and tea tree oil shampoo …I added a tiny bit of peppermint oil too.The nit comb is a must too. Repeat a few days later as the eggs can hatch if not all got by comb.
      It worked perfect. Now we use tea tree oil shampoo once a week for protection from those little buggers. Kids in school are so seceptable to them now a days and the RID crap doesnt work anymore and is frankly poison.
      I think smothering them with any kind of oil is the key…with a follow up with the tea tree oil shampoo.

  22. Head lice are epidemic in the schools. We now have super lice that have built an immunity to the otc treatments.I have used alcohol before and it worked except it dried out my scalp. I used it again a week ago. The alcohol hit the bottom of the tub and the fumes flew in my face. My eye were already closed but the skin all around my eyes burned like fire and I couldn’t breathe. I completed the treatment and killed all the lice but I got alcohol poisoning. I did great damage to my mucous membranes and I am still sick. This can result in coma, liver or kidney damage or a heart arrhythmia. I had no idea. My niece is a nurse practitioner and she said, ” You inhaled it, you absorbed it and you left it on your head for 15 minutes! ” It is dangerous stuff. I used skin so soft on my granddaughter, rinsed it out and then a vinegar rinse. It worked but vinegar till has fumes. Be careful.

  23. My daughter has longish hair n very thick n im struggling for the past 2 months now with her hair n it spreads btwn her n my son n now i think i have them? iv tried OTC kit’s n iv tried olive oil aswell which helped a lil then boom theres another one.. im goin to try the vinger ones thanks to everyone for their input n info.. its such a mission just to get rid of these buggers..

  24. I tried the vinegar one today it is very helpful it almost removed all my nits
    First I took a cup of Apple cider vinegar applied it to my hair and scalp for a Long time and then I took a cup of coconut oil and did the same
    Go I covered my hair with a shower cup over night and next morning I removed the shower cup and combed my hair with the nit comb.Almost all my nits and lice were gone after combing
    Then I shampood my hair as usual.!!
    B4 I tried many products containing chemicals nothing helped me I tried the vinegar one nd I’m so Glad with it.Hope my review helps u?

  25. Vinegar and Coconut oil did it all!!
    I tried the vinegar one today it is really helpful.Those who have a lot of hair nits and lice should definetly try the vinegar one
    First I took a cup of Apple cider vinegar and applied it on my hair and scalp for a Long time and after 2 to 3 minutes I applied coconut oil the same way
    Then I put on the shower cap and left it overnight. Go morning after removing the shower cup I combed my hair with a nit comb
    And then i shampood my hair
    After combining I felt that most of my nits and Lice were gone
    I tried many chemical products prescribed by Doctors or my own but all that did not work
    It increased my hair fall and I got more dandruff
    I m very Glad wit this home remedy those who r suffering from lice problem should definetly try it.
    Hope my review helps u all☺️

  26. This is going to sound strange.. my kids and I got lice I got rid of them by rubbing Vicks vaporub and mayo mix in all of our hair, just the off brand.. I rub it in and we sleep with it through the night, and I let them keep it in until the next night.. it’s hard to wash out leaving greasy hair, but it kills all the lice completely.. 7 days later u do the same thing to kill any lice that had hatched..

  27. A friend of my recommended this: get some cetaphil from the drugstore, apply it to the entire head, blow dry the hair, leave it on overnight.(wear a shower cap to sleep). The next morning rinse hair with warm water, and wash yourhair normally. The cetaphil after being blow dry, suffocates the lice and die. After washing your hair. Use the fine comb to remove any dead bugs. Repeat every other dayfor a week, once a week for a month. It really works!

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