5 Simple Steps to Get Rid of Head Lice Naturally

Clinical review: Manuel Reis
Registered Nurse

There are some natural remedies available to help you get rid of head lice or nits. These are generally easy to do at home and are safe for use on children. Home remedies include: washing your hair with vinegar and water, applying a mixture of essential oils to the scalp, and using a fine-tooth or electric lice comb (available online or at some phamacies). 

When completing any of these treatments, we recommend you wash all clothes, bedsheets, soft toys, brushes and hair accessories belonging to the infected person in hot water (temperature over 140°F or 60°C) for around 30 minutes. This will help to remove any eggs and lingering nits or lice that may be hidden on the surfaces. 

The five steps for getting rid of nits and head lice naturally are:

1. Wash your hair with vinegar

The first step is to wash your hair with a mixture of vinegar and warm water. Vinegar contains properties that kill and get rid of nits and lice. This mixture should be applied directly to the whole scalp.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of warm water

Preparation method

Mix 1 cup of vinegar with 1 cup of warm water. Next, distribute this mixture onto the scalp and cover your hair with a hair cap. Let this sit for approximately 30 minutes. Then, wash your hair normally with your usual shampoo.

2. Use a mixture of essential oils

The second step is to apply a mixture of essential oils directly on your scalp and hair, put a hair cap on and leave the mixture to work for 20 minutes. 

Ingredients

  • 50 mL of coconut oil;
  • 2 to 3 drops of essential tea-tree oil;
  • 2 to 3 drops of ylang ylang essential oil;
  • 50 mL of apple cider vinegar.

Preparation method

Mix all the ingredients together and apply directly on hair. Leave it in for 20 minutes and then wash it out with your usual shampoo. 

3. Comb your hair using a fine-tooth comb

The third step is to run a fine-tooth comb through your whole hair, going through each section carefully in order to make sure that every part of your hair gets thoroughly visualized and combed.

Instead of using a fine-tooth comb, you can also use an electric lice comb on dry hair, which is even more efficient in detecting and eliminating lice. This comb makes a continuous sound while it is turned on and a more intense and higher-pitched sound when it detects a louse. The electric comb emits an ultrasound frequency that is not sensed by the person but is lethal to lice.

4. Wash your clothes in hot water

Lice can be transmitted through brushes, combs, hats, pillow-cases or bed sheets. Therefore, it is very important to wash these objects frequently, to avoid a new infestation or transmission of the parasite to another person.

All objects that have been in contact with affected scalps (such as bed sheets, blankets, clothes, soft toys, hair bands and ties, hats, caps, carpets, pillow cases and sofa covers) need to be washed in hot water at a temperature over 140°F or 60°C in order to kill the lice.

5. Repeat all the steps after 9 days

Lice have a life cycle of 9 days and, therefore, nits that were not removed in the first treatment can end up developing into lice iwithin this time frame. Therefore, nine days after the first treatment we recommend you repeat all the steps. This will ensure that all lice are eliminated.

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Atualizado por Tua Saude editing team, em January de 2022. Clinical review por Manuel Reis - Registered Nurse, em January de 2022.

References

  • BURGESS, Ian F.; BRUNTON, Elizabeth R.; BURGESS, Nazma A. Clinical trial showing superiority of a coconut and anise spray over permethrin 0.43% lotion for head louse infestation. Eur J Pediatr. 2010 Jan;169(1):55-62. . Vol.169, n.1. 55-62, 2010
  • TAKANO-LEE, Miwa et al. Home Remedies to Control Head Lice. J Pediatr Nurs. Vol.19, n.6. 393–398, 2004
Show more references
  • WEBBER, Elaine; MCCONNELL, Sherry. LICE UPDATE - Management and Treatment in the Home. Home Healthcare Now. Vol.36, n.5. 289-294, 2018
  • ASENOV, André et al. Efficacy of chemical and botanical over‐the‐counter pediculicides available in Brazil, and off‐label treatments, against head lice ex vivo. Int J Dermatol. vol.49, n.3. 324-330, 2010
Clinical review:
Manuel Reis
Registered Nurse
Manuel graduated in 2013 and is licensed to practice under the Ordem dos Enfermeiros de Portugal, with license #79026. He specializes in Advanced Clinical Phytotherapy.