Is Apple Cider Vinegar A Good Remedy For Head Lice?

Banish the itching and irritation caused by the pesky parasite with this remedy.

Reviewed by Tiffany Young, Certified Trichology Practitioner Tiffany Young Tiffany YoungCertified Trichology Practitioner facebook_iconlinkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Experience: 7 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) Experience: 11 years
Fact-checked by , Integrated MA Medha Deb Integrated MA Experience: 5 years

Many suggest using apple cider vinegar for head lice. But does it really helpful in getting rid of the parasitic infection? Let’s find out.
People believe head lice infect you due to poor hygiene, which isn’t true. Several factors lead to pediculosis. They are a common problem, and anyone can get infected by this irritating parasite. Lice can affect your quality of life as it can be embarrassing to control the constant urge to itch your scalp before everyone.

Also, getting rid of lice can be irritating as there is an information explosion about the topic. This article explores how you can use apple cider vinegar as an alternative medicine to remove lice, its effectiveness, and other best ways to remove this parasite. Continue reading to know more.

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Kill Lice?

Image: Shutterstock

Unfortunately, the truth remains that while there are various anecdotal reports that suggest an apple cider vinegar rinse kills head lice, there is no clinical or scientific evidence that supports this claim.

Anecdotal reports claim that the acid in apple cider vinegar breaks down the glue that binds the nits to your hair strands. However, these are just untested claims.

Interestingly, a 2004 study compared six popular home remedies vinegar, isopropyl alcohol, olive oil, mayonnaise, melted butter, and petroleum jelly to treat head lice infestations. The researchers found that none of these methods were a viable treatment for head lice (1).

Data indicates that in the United States, head lice infestations are most prevalent among preschool and elementary school-age children and their household members and caretakers. There are estimated to be between 6 million and 12 million infestations annually among children aged 3 to 11 years. The studies also suggest that girls tend to experience head lice infestations more frequently than boys, likely due to their higher likelihood of engaging in head-to-head contact.

If you would still like to try using apple cider vinegar to get rid of head lice, check out the next section to find out what you need to do.  

How To Get Rid Of Lice With Apple Cider Vinegar

Image: Shutterstock

As mentioned earlier, there is no scientific evidence that proves apple cider vinegar is an effective way to get rid of lice. But, if you would still like to try your hand at it, here is what you need to do:

  1. Mix one cup of apple cider vinegar with one cup of water.
  2. Slowly pour this solution all over your head, making sure to cover all your scalp, behind the ears, and the nape of your neck.
  3. Leave the ACV solution in your hair for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Rinse your hair with plain water.
  5. Comb out the lice and nits with a nit comb.
  6. Keep repeating this process every two days.
protip_icon Quick Tip
Ensure you use filtered apple cider vinegar with an acetic acid concentration of 5% to avoid scalp irritation.

Other Ways To Get Rid Of Head Lice

Woman applying olive oil to get rid of head lice
Image: Shutterstock

As we have mentioned already apple cider vinegar is not effective for lice treatment. Here are other effective ways to get rid of lice:

  1. Wet combing your hair is one of the best ways to get rid of head lice. According to a study conducted in Belgium, wet combing is the easiest way to remove lice (2). Mix some conditioner with water in a spray bottle and spritz the solution all over your hair. Then, use a nit comb to remove the lice and eggs.
  2. You can also apply coconut, olive, or almond oil to suffocate the lice. Smothering only helps in making the lice sluggish and slow, thus making it easy to catch them with a nit comb.
  3. You may also try using essential oils like tea tree oil, lavender oil, eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, or clove oil. This technique involves mixing 2 ounces of olive oil with 15-20 drops of the essential oil and applying this blend to your hair with a cotton ball. Let the oil sit in your hair for 12 hours. Comb out the lice and nits before you wash off the oil. Repeat this method every day till you are sure that there are no live lice or nits left in your hair.
  4. Clean and disinfect all your combs and other hair accessories like hair clips, hats, and scarves to help with lice prevention.

Debs, a blogger, shares how she dealt with a lice infestation that affected her two sons, daughter, and herself. She writes, “The kids were at their ‘once a week school’, so I went to pick them up. When we got home I was searching through Williams’s hair and a bug fell on the ground and Gracie had nits (i).” Her husband shaved their sons’ heads while she and her daughter tried out an apple cider vinegar treatment. She continues, “After that Gracie and I got doused with apple cider vinegar and combed through it which got rid of a lot.”

protip_icon Quick Tip
Soak your brushes and combs in rubbing alcohol for 1 hour to get rid of the lice.

Infographic: How To Get Rid Of Head Lice

Do you feel the constant urge to scratch your scalp due to lice? This can be embarrassing and frustrating. Head lice spread easily from person to person and can be difficult to get rid of. They cause scalp irritation and other complications. Hence, treating them right away before they spread is ideal. Go through the following infographic to explore a few ways to remove head lice.

how to get rid of head lice (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Apple cider vinegar is not clinically proven as a solution against lice infestation. Though researchers have found it is not a viable treatment to get rid of lice, people have been using it for the same. If you want to try using it, you can follow the method mentioned in this article. You may also try alternate options that help you solve lice infestation. Following those and maintaining a proper hair care routine will help you prevent it. However, if a home remedy does not help, consult a doctor immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should you leave apple cider vinegar in your hair for lice?

You can leave apple cider vinegar in your hair for 15-20 minutes. Try not to exceed this time limit as it can disturb the pH balance of your scalp and dry out your hair.

Is coconut oil mixed with apple cider vinegar an effective lice treatment?

Though anecdotal evidence suggests that ACV mixed with coconut oil is a good way to get rid of lice, there is no scientific evidence to prove the same.

How good is white vinegar for head lice?

According to anecdotal evidence, white vinegar is the least effective compared to other home remedies. You may instead use medicated shampoos and oils to deal with lice.

Does vinegar kill lice?

You cannot kill adult lice using normal white vinegar, but it breaks down the substance that attaches the nit or lice eggs with the hair shaft; hence, it helps to remove the nit easily but does not kill it.

Key Takeaways

  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that the acid in apple cider vinegar may act as a natural remedy that helps manage head lice.
  • You can try this remedy at home by mixing apple cider vinegar with water and applying it all over your scalp every 2 days.
  • Wet-combing your hair or applying coconut oil are other effective ways to get rid of head lice.
apple cider vinegar for head lice

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Don’t miss out on this invaluable video that provides a hassle-free solution for removing lice and nits from your hair using apple cider vinegar! Check it out!

Personal Experience: Source


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Home remedies to control head lice: assessment of home remedies to control the human head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis (Anoplura: Pediculidae)
  2. Wet combing for head lice: feasibility in mass screening, treatment preference and outcome
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