10 Best Essential Oils For Head Lice Prevention

by Priyanka S

Head lice are those annoying blood-sucking parasites. They are highly contagious and easily spread from one person to another. Are you having a hard time with head lice? Did you end up using chemical treatments and highly concentrated solutions? Well, those may only damage your tresses. Then what is the solution? Mixing plant essential oils with your shampoo.

Essential oils with a strong aroma and antimicrobial properties suffocate the lice and halt their growth. They also help prevent further infestations. The oils also may promote hair growth and ensure a healthy scalp. This article is all about head lice and how you can eliminate them using essential oils. Keep reading.

What Are Head Lice?

Head lice are parasites residing in the hair that feed on scalp blood. They lay eggs (known as nits) and cause intense itchiness. However, they are not harmful and do not spread any disease. They are highly contagious, though, and spread quickly from one scalp to another (1).

Head lice are quite a common problem among pre-schoolers and school-going children. Statistics show that an estimated 6 to 12 million lice infestations occur in the US among children between 3 and 11 years of age (2).

Essential oils are growing in popularity as treatments for head lice. Along with combing, the application of essential oils is proven to be effective in preventing head lice (3), (4). We have discussed some of the more effective essential oils in the following section.

Essential Oils For Lice Prevention

1. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil helps relieve chronic pruritus (itching that persists for 6 weeks) (5). The strong odor and the insecticidal properties of this oil could make it a strong lice deterrent (6).

You Will Need

4 tablespoons of peppermint oil
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

Duration

30 minutes

How To Apply

  1. Combine the peppermint oil with olive oil and apply this mixture to the scalp. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Brush through your hair with a nit comb to get rid of the dead lice.
  3. Try carrying out this procedure over a sink as the lice may escape quickly.

2. Lavender Oil

The insect-repelling properties of lavender oil can cut down the risk of lice. The oil suffocates the lice with its smell and prevents their proliferation (7), (8). The active ingredients of lavender oil have antibacterial and antifungal properties that soothe the scalp and halt the growth of microorganisms (9). Moreover, mice studies have shown that lavender oil may also relax the scalp and promote hair growth (10).

You Will Need

  • 10 drops of lavender oil
  • 3 tablespoons of any carrier oil (jojoba, coconut, or olive)

Duration

2 hours (repeat the process every alternate day for 10 days)

How To Apply

  1. Mix 10 drops of lavender essential oil with any carrier oil and massage this mixture gently onto your scalp.
  2. Shampoo your hair and use a nit comb to remove as many nits as possible.
  3. Rinse your hair thoroughly.

3. Aniseed Oil

The strong odor and the volatile compounds of aniseed possess antimicrobial properties that could halt the growth of any pathogens and control head lice (11), (12). A study in the Israel Journal of Medical Sciences showed that natural remedies with the application of essential oils reduced lice infestations in children within 15 days (13).

You Will Need

  • 3 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 4-5 drops of aniseed oil
  • 3 tablespoons of tea tree oil (optional)

Duration

3 hours

How To Apply

  1. Mix all the ingredients and massage the mixture onto the scalp.
  2. Work this solution through the hair from the root to the tip.
  3. Cover your hair with a shower cap and let the mixture sit for 3 hours. If possible, you can leave it on for the entire day.
  4. Comb your hair with a nit comb and rinse thoroughly.

4. Neem Oil

Neem has insecticidal properties that destroy head lice and kill the larvae within 7-10 days of application (14). Neem also may soothe an irritated scalp.

You Will Need

  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of neem oil

Duration

30 minutes

How To Apply

  1. Mix one tablespoon of neem oil with one tablespoon of coconut oil.
  2. Massage this mixture gently onto the scalp and let it sit for at least an hour.
  3. Rinse it off with a shampoo.
  4. Repeat this every alternate day for a month.

5. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil was found to show some efficacy in halting the growth of lice (15). Further research had shown that a 1% concentration of tea tree oil for 30 minutes could kill 100% of head lice (16). Another study showed that a combination of essential oils, including tea tree oil, may effectively eradicate head lice (17), (7).

You Will Need

  • 3 drops of tea tree oil
  • Any chemical-free shampoo

Duration

30 minutes

How To Apply

  1. Squeeze a quarter-size amount of shampoo into your hand and add 2 to 3 drops of tea tree oil to it.
  2. Gently massage the solution into the scalp.
  3. Leave it on for a few minutes. Rinse your hair thoroughly.

6. Rosemary Oil

The volatile compounds in rosemary essential oil reduce head lice and relieve scalp itching (18). In combination with other essential oils, rosemary oil may also be effective in promoting hair growth (19).

You Will Need

  • 8 drops of rosemary oil
  • Any chemical-free shampoo

Duration

5 to 10 minutes

How To Apply

  1. Add 5 to 8 drops of rosemary oil to your shampoo.
  2. Make sure to soak each hair strand with this solution and scrub your scalp in and around the roots.
  3. Comb your hair using a nit comb to loosen the eggs from your hair quickly.
  4. Rinse thoroughly.

7. Clove Oil

The odor of clove oil can drive lice away. The two components of clove oil, eugenol and beta-caryophyllene, act as lice repellents (15), (20), (21).

You Will Need

  • 4 drops of clove essential oil
  • Any shampoo

Duration

5 minutes

How To Apply

  1.  Add a few drops of clove oil to the shampoo.
  2. Coat your hair with this mixture and let it stay for 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Use a nit comb to comb through your hair while the shampoo is still on.
  4. If you see any lice, add a few more drops of clove oil.
  5. Rinse your hair thoroughly.

8. Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil is a potent disinfectant that fights against inflammation and soothes wounds. A study showed that Australian eucalyptus oil effectively treats head lice and provides relief from itching (22), (23).

You Will Need

  • 3 drops of clove essential oil
  • Any natural shampoo

Duration

10-20 minutes

How To Apply

  1. Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the shampoo.
  2. Coat your hair with this mixture and let it stay for 10-20 minutes.
  3. Comb your hair with the shampoo still on.
  4. If you see any lice, add a few more drops of eucalyptus oil.
  5. Rinse your hair thoroughly.

9. Cinnamon Leaf Oil

Cinnamon leaf oil possesses antimicrobial and antioxidant properties (24). It also contains benzyl benzoate and cinnamaldehyde that help kill head lice and prevent other bacterial and fungal infections (25).

You Will Need

  • 4-5 drops of cinnamon leaf oil
  • 3 tablespoons of jojoba oil
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Shower cap

Duration

4 to 5 hours

How To Apply

  1. Mix well and apply the solution to your head.
  2. Cover with a shower cap for 4 to 5 hours.
  3. Comb your hair with a nit comb from the root to the tip.
  4. Rinse your hair twice to remove the dead nits and lice.

10. Red Thyme Oil

Red thyme oil’s phenols and oxides may help fight head lice (26).

You Will Need

  • 10 drops of red thyme oil
  • 4 tablespoons of coconut oil or olive oil

Duration

2 to 3 hours

How To Apply

  1. Add 10 drops of red thyme oil to olive oil or coconut oil.
  2. Massage the mixture gently into the scalp.
  3. Use a nit comb to get rid of the dead lice.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with a chemical-free shampoo.

Head lice can be troublesome. But the right hair care regimen can help you get rid of them altogether. Use these essential oils to get the best results. We also have discussed a few tips for preventing head lice.

Other Tips For Head Lice Prevention

  • According to the British Medical Journal, wet combing is effective in reducing head lice. It makes the lice visible and differentiates them from dandruff, helping in their quick removal (27).
  • Brush your hair twice daily to disrupt the movement of the lice.
  • Along with essential oils, you may also use an anti-lice shampoo. It cleanses your scalp and the hair shaft. Its natural ingredients can also halt the growth of the nits.
  • Always ensure you dilute the plant essential oils before use. You can use water or oil or even shampoos and conditioners for this purpose. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can affect your skin if used undiluted.
  • Keep your scarf, comb, pillow, towels, headsets, and earbuds separate. Avoid sharing such items with others.

Treating head lice with essential oils not only halts their growth but also enhances scalp health. Follow the remedies discussed above for effective treatment and prevention of head lice. Consult your doctor should your condition persist.

27 sources

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