Does Mayonnaise Kill Head Lice?

Use this condiment on your hair the right way to get rid of those pesky bugs!

Medically reviewed by Vd. Babita Sharma, BAMS Vd. Babita Sharma Vd. Babita SharmaBAMS facebook_icon
Written by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 11 years
Fact-checked by , MA (Journalism & Mass Communication) Monomita Chakraborty MA (Journalism & Mass Communication) linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years
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Mayonnaise is not only effective as a dip or a salad dressing – but it also is a popular remedy for head lice. While using mayonnaise for head lice may sound crazy, most people claim it to be effective. There is no scientific evidence to prove this statement. But anecdotal evidence does support its use.

This article discusses how mayonnaise works to kill head lice and how you can use it right. We also talk about the precautions you need to take while using mayonnaise. Continue reading to get answers to, “Does mayonnaise kill lice effectively?”

Does Mayonnaise Really Work?

A spoonful of mayonnaise scooped out of its container
Image: Shutterstock

Anecdotal evidence suggests that mayonnaise may help eliminate head lice. However, there is no scientific proof of its efficacy.

Mayonnaise, popularly known as mayo, combines vegetable oils, vinegar, and egg yolk and is a perfect accompaniment to nachos, fries, burgers, and sandwiches. However, full-fat mayonnaise is often used to kill head lice.

One possible reason is that mayonnaise works as a suffocating agent when applied liberally and left for over 12 hours. However, it cannot eliminate the nits that may stay in the hair for six months and cause re-infestation (1).

protip_icon Did You Know?
The FDA has approved medications such as 5% Benzyl alcohol lotion and more (2) for lice. However, you must take these only when prescribed.

Mayonnaise is not a proven way to deal with head lice. It is best to consult a doctor and use medicated shampoos and topical lotions for treating head lice. However, if you want to try mayonnaise for lice management, here are a few ways.

How To Use Mayonnaise For Managing Lice Infestation

Close up of lice eggs as a lice comb is run through the hair
Image: Shutterstock

1. Mayonnaise With Coconut Oil

Mayonnaise and coconut oil may suffocate the lice and help kill them.

What You Need

  • Full-fat mayonnaise (adjust the quantity as per the hair length)
  • A few drops of coconut oil
  • A shower cap

Directions

  1. Combine the mayonnaise and coconut oil in a bowl.
  2. Apply the mixture right from the scalp to the hair ends.
  3. Cover your head with a shower cap and leave it on for at least 12 hours or overnight.
  4. Shampoo your hair the next day. For best results, use a medicated shampoo.
  5. Comb through your hair to remove the dead lice.
  6. Wash your hair and repeat the process thrice a week.

2. Mayonnaise With Vinegar And Tea Tree Oil

Mayonnaise mixed with vinegar and tea tree oil as a remedy for head lice
Image: Shutterstock

Tea tree oil may effectively kill this parasite. However, it may not work on the nits (3). Vinegar can help prevent the nits from sticking to the hair.

What You Need

  • Full-fat mayonnaise
  • 5-10 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon of vinegar

Directions

  1. Mix the mayonnaise, vinegar, tea tree oil.
  2. Apply the mixture from the scalp to the hair ends.
  3. Leave it on for two hours.
  4. Shampoo your hair and comb the dead lice out of the wet hair.
  5. Repeat the process twice a week.

Erika, a blogger, shared her experience of using a mixture of mayonnaise, tea tree oil, peppermint oil, and rosemary oil to help remove lice from her daughter’s head. She followed it up by spraying some apple cider vinegar on her daughter’s head and she found some amazing results. She said, “For my daughter, I found 0 live lice after the mayonnaise and vinegar treatment the first time. I combed out her hair again a few days later and found 1 live lice. We went through the mayo and vinegar treatment again. A few days later and she was clean (i)”.

Here are a few tips you should remember when using mayonnaise for head lice.

Tips And Precautions

Woman wearing shower cap to get rid of lice
Image: Shutterstock
  • Use a tight-fitting shower cap. Never use plastic wraps or bags.
  • Mayonnaise cannot remove the nits. Post mayonnaise treatment, use lice comb to remove nits from the hair. Clean the comb after using it.
  • The overnight hair care treatment must not be used on children as they may pull strands out of the shower cap and chew on them. Mayonnaise turns rancid after a few hours and is not safe to be ingested.
  • Low-fat mayonnaise will not have enough oils to suffocate adult lice. Hence, always use full-fat mayonnaise.

Mayonnaise is not meant for topical application and may cause adverse reactions. Take a look at a few risks in the next section.

Risks Associated With Mayonnaise Application

Woman scratching her scalp due to a mayonnaise allergy
Image: Shutterstock
  • It may trigger allergic reactions in people who are allergic to eggs.
  • Mayonnaise turns rancid in a few hours and may emit an unpleasant smell.
  • Rancid mayonnaise may make its way into the mouth and upset the stomach or cause food poisoning.
  • If you have oily skin, mayonnaise may cause breakouts around the hairline, face, and neck as it contains fat and oils.
protip_icon Trivia

Coconut, tea tree, lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint, and olive oils are some trusted home remedies to suffocate lice, as per anecdotal evidence.

Infographic: Effective Ways To Use Mayonnaise For Controlling Lice Infestation

Although lice infestation is a widespread issue, most people are embarrassed to acknowledge it. There are a few lice treatment shampoos on the market, but they contain many chemicals, making people hesitant to use them, especially on children. Mayonnaise can be used as an alternative treatment. Check out the infographic below for the most effective ways to use mayonnaise for lice control.

effective ways to use mayonnaise for controlling lice infestation (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Using mayonnaise to kill head lice is not a proven treatment method. It may act as a suffocating agent and thereby reduce lice infestation. Despite some people’s positive experiences with it, mayonnaise may cause unwanted reactions on the skin. It may trigger allergies, turn rancid and unpleasant, or cause acne breakouts. The use of this kitchen ingredient as a natural remedy for lice is not recommended, but if you must, use it along with other natural ingredients, such as tea tree oil. Use medicated shampoos to kill lice and nits if you or your child has head lice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you put mayo on wet or dry hair?

Ideally, mayo is applied on dry hair so it can sit on your scalp and suffocate the lice better.

Does mayonnaise or coconut oil kill lice?

Both mayonnaise and coconut oil may act as suffocating agents and help eliminate head lice. However, none of these remedies are scientifically proven.

What should I do if mayonnaise doesn’t work to kill head lice?

You can try a few other trusted home remedies such as coconut oil infused with neem oil and camphor extracts or tea tree oil.

How effective is mayonnaise compared to other head lice treatments?

When compared to natural remedies like Eucalyptus oil or neem oil which, as per anecdotal evidence, are known to eliminate head lice, mayonnaise only acts as a suffocating agent or as a lubricant that facilitates the removal of nits. Hence, mayonnaise needs to be used with other treatments to completely get rid of head lice.

Key Takeaways

  • Full-fat mayonnaise is often used as a home remedy to eliminate head lice.
  • It may suffocate the lice and provide temporary relief. However, there are chances of reinfestation.
  • Using mayonnaise to kill head lice also increases the risk of allergic reactions.

Wondering if mayonnaise is an effective remedy for head lice? Dive into this informative video and explore the truth behind this common home remedy and its potential effectiveness.

Personal Experience: Source

References

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. Prevention and treatment of head lice in children,
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10937452/
  2. The clinical trials supporting benzyl alcohol lotion 5% (Ulesfia): a safe and effective topical treatment for head lice (pediculosis humanus capitis)
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20199404/
  3. Activity of tea tree oil and nerolidol alone or in combination against Pediculus capitis (head lice) and its eggs,
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3480584/
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Dr. Babita Sharma, an Ayurveda specialist, has 10 years of experience. She is currently working as MD and Consultant at Atharva Ayurveda Ayurdhama Hospital Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, in 2008. Her specialties include child care, Ayurveda gynecology, infertility, skin care, and...read full bio

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