How to Use Essential Oils for Lice Treatment

LICE. The word just makes my skin crawl. If you or your child has lice … I feel for you. These disgusting little buggers causes so much discomfort and can be so embarrassing. The rate that these pests spread means that you’ll probably face them at one point in your life or another.

The eggs of lice, also called nits, can last 7-10 days before hatching. The removal of them can be not only be extremely tedious and frustrating but also dangerous if you’re using certain products including pesticides.

Dangers of many lice treatment products

Unfortunately, many of the over-the-counter products for killing lice are loaded with toxic pesticides that you do not want to put on your child (or anyone’s) head. RID and other popular lice killing products out there include toxic ingredients like Pyrethrins. You might be thinking: what the heck are pyrethrins?

Pyrethrins are pesticidal chemical compounds that were originally discovered in chrysanthemum flowers. These chemical compounds are now synthetically engineered and put in commercial products and are called pyrethroids.

The bad news is that pyrethrins can have significant side effects depending on the level of your exposure. This is a quote from the CDC website about these pesticides:

“Pyrethrins and pyrethroids interfere with the way that the nerves and brain function. If you get a large amount of pyrethrins or pyrethroids on your skin, you may get feelings of numbness, itching, burning, stinging, tingling, or warmth that could last for a few hours. You are not likely to be exposed to amounts of pyrethrins or pyrethroids by breathing air, eating food, or touching anything that would cause enough pyrethrins or pyrethroids to enter your body and cause other problems. But if very large amounts of these chemicals were to enter your body, you might experience dizziness, headache, and nausea that might last for several hours. Larger amounts might cause muscle twitching, reduced energy, and changes in awareness. Even larger amounts could cause convulsions and loss of consciousness that could last for several days.”

To top it all off, pyrethrins are highly toxic to fish and honey bees. So when you use a lice killer shampoo with this ingredient and wash it down the drain, you are unintentionally spreading these toxins into our water systems.

ICK are you kidding me? That is not something I would want to risk rubbing on a child’s head.
Essential oils are a much better alternative to help get rid of lice without the use of a pesticides.

Essential Oils for Lice

There are a few different types of essential oils and blends that you can use to eradicate lice but ylang ylang and tea tree oil are specifically recommended the most often for their effectiveness.

Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of the Australian melaleuca tree and has a warm earthy scent. It has tons of great uses, but will be very helpful for you because it very effective at killing lice. Many studies show that this essential oil can kill both the eggs and lice.

Ylang ylang oil is a sweet and floral scented oil that comes from trees in tropical locations like Indonesia and the Philippines. Ylang ylang oil is another mild oil that can be used topically after it’s been diluted properly to treat lice.

You need to be careful with using essential oils because they are highly potent. Some oils like eucalyptus, pennyroyal, marjoram and rosemary were found to be effective on killing lice, but they are not recommended for topical use on the scalp, especially for children. The American College of Healthcare Sciences doesn’t recommend using these specific oils on children because they can be potentially hazardous for them as kids are more sensitive. You always want to check the label of your oils and follow the guidelines from the brand you bought from on the safety info.

Stick with properly diluted ylang ylang, tea tree and lavender oils and you should be just fine!

Are Essential Oils As Effective Against Lice?

You might be wondering if essential oils are as effective as pesticidal chemical treatments, and the answer is yes but they might take more effort. Rest assured that the American Academy of Pediatrics referenced a study that found a combination of anise, ylang-ylang, coconut oils, and isopropyl alcohol to be just as effective on killing lice as the permethrin pesticides.

essential oils for lice treatment

The essential oil treatments are much safer and highly effective, but they don’t necessarily kill lice as fast as the pesticides and may require more treatments.

How to use essential oils to get rid of Lice

  1. Make an essential oil shampoo and wash the scalp
    First of all, DO NOT use the oils “neat”, which means putting them directly on the scalp. These oils must be diluted so they don’t cause a bad reaction. Make a DIY shampoo with a recipe like the at the bottom of this post and massage into your kid’s scalp.
  2. Comb out the Lice
    To get setup for this combing session, you’ll need to go in a well lit area so you can see what you’re doing (and maybe even grab a magnifying glass if your vision isn’t what it used to be). Brace yourself, this can take a few hours depending on how long the hair is that you’re dealing with.While the hair is still wet, take a fine tooth comb and work your way around the head by meticulously combing through small sections of hair to remove the lice and eggs. Trust me, you’ll want to use a high quality comb that is metal and has very long and fine teeth. Skip the crappy plastic ones and get a good comb to make this easier on yourself. Start by combing from the scalp to remove the eggs and then work your way all the way through the ends of the hair. You can dip the comb in soapy water between sections and wipe the lice on a paper towel.
  3. Repeat until the lice are completely gone
    The first comb out will get rid of most of the lice, but some will hatch later that you missed. Repeat this process every day or every other day until they are gone. Wash the pillowcase, sheets and clothes of your child as well.

Then have a glass of wine when you’re done because it will be well deserved!

Tea Tree Essential Oil DIY Lice Shampoo Recipe

Here is a recipe for you to make your own natural essential oil lice removal shampoo at home.
¼ cup Coconut milk
¼ cup Liquid castille soap
2 drops of lavender essential oil
6 drops of tea tree essential oil
6 drops of ylang ylang essential oil

Thoroughly stir and combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Then you can use immediately and put the rest in a shampoo bottle to store for later use.


Now you’re an expert on using oils as a natural remedy for pesky lice. May the force be with you against these pests.

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