Home Remedies and Natural Cures

Head Lice Home Remedy

Signs and Symptoms of Head Lice

Head lice are wingless insects that live on the human scalp and feed off of human blood. They are different from fleas (which often infect pets) in that they spend their entire life on a host. Related species of lice can also infect other parts of the body. For example, body lice often live on clothing, while pubic lice mainly live on hair in the pubic regions. An infestation of lice is also often referred to as pediculosis.

Head lice develop in the following phases:

  • Head Lice Eggs (Nits): These are firmly attached to the hair shaft, and are difficult to see (they can easily be mistaken for dandruff). They are oval shaped and usually yellow to white.
  • Nymphs: After about a week, a nit will hatch into nymphs which are young head lice. At this stage they begin feeding on blood from the scalp.
  • Adults: After 7 days, a nymph matures into an adult, which is about the size of a sesame seed with a greyish-white color. The adult lifespan is about 30 days.

The most common symptom of lice infestation is frequent itching, which occurs as a result of a lice's saliva entering holes in the scalp when they feed. Note that excessive scratching of the head can result in sores, which may become infected, so it is best to get treatment as quickly as possible. Although a louse bites into the skin to feed, the reaction to the bite is difficult to see between the hairs. However, bites can often be seen on the neck of individuals with long hair.

Causes of Head Lice

Head lice are usually spread through direct head-to-head contact with an infested person, but they can also be spread by sharing combs or towels. Children are often the most affected by head lice, particularly those between the ages of 3 and 10. Additionally, females often get head lice more than males, possibly due to having longer hair. Pets are typically not affected by human head lice.

Home Remedies and Natural Treatments for Head Lice

Use Tea Tree Oil Shampoo

Shampoos containing a small amount (5%) of Tea Tree Oil are often very effective at getting rid of head lice. An excellent shampoo is Nature's Gate - Tea Tree Calming Shampoo.


A quick home remedy for head lice is to create a rinse using an equal part of water mixed with an equal part of kitchen vinegar. One-half cup usually does the trick. After you've created this mixture, do the following:

  • Take a shower and leave shampoo in your hair for 5 to 10 minutes. Tea Tree Oil shampoos (described above) work well.
  • Rinse the shampoo.
  • Apply the vinegar rinse to your hair and rub it into your whole scalp.
  • Leave the rinse in your hair for about 2 minutes, then rinse it out.
  • Repeat this twice per day (morning and evening) until the head lice disappear.

The active ingredients in the shampoo kill head lice as well as penetrate into the eggs that they hatch. The vinegar then helps to dissolve the dead lice and wash their remains away.

Eliminate Head Lice with a Nit Comb

Although shampooing is quite effective at getting rid of head lice, many nits usually remain firmly attached to hair strands. Therefore, after shampooing and drying your hair, it is good to invest in a quality nit comb to remove the pesky nits. A recommended nit-comb is the Nit Free Terminator Lice Comb from NitBusters. A natural peppermint oil repellent such as Nit Free Mint Spray can also help to loosen nits before using the nit comb.

Shaving your Head to Remove Head Lice

One of the easiest and most effective ways to get rid of head lice is to simply shave your head, although many women would prefer alternative methods. Note that a short haircut usually isn't sufficient, since head lice typically cling to hair only a quarter-inch from the scalp.

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  1. on said:

    Can you just use the vinegar for headlice when washing your hair?

  2. on said:

    I'm going back 10+ years when I called a vet to get rid of head lice in my kids. Yes I did! I was told to use green Hartz flea shampoo on my kids once a week. Do not let it drip in the eyes. And after 2 weeks they had no more lice. I swear by it!

  3. on said:

    There has been a lot of talk about how to clean the hair to get rid of lice.
    One also needs to be sure to wash all bedding and clothing in very hot water.
    Be sure to dry clothes in dryer not on a clothes line as the heat of the dryer will get
    rid of any left over lice.
    You could also add Listerine to the wash or rinse cycle.

  4. on said:

    I am so frustrated with this lice problem. My daughter has very long pretty hair, and she keeps getting head lice, is there anything that repels them?

  5. on said:

    When using the Listerine remedy -does Listerine kill the eggs as well or it kills just the live lice?

  6. on said:

    Elizabeth Brooks, try a few remedies suggested by some people here in this forum. I find that Tea Tree oil remedy has always worked for me. Apply tea tree oil all over the scalp and cover the head with a shower cap for 3-4 hours. And wash it carefully so oil doesn't go in the eyes. All the bugs should be gone after the shower. Now after drying the hair, use hair straightener and straightened the hair from roots to ends. The heat will kill the lice eggs and make them lifeless and easy to comb them off the hair. Also mixing a few tea spoons of tea tree oil in your regular shampoo and using it for washing hair regularly helps keep the lice away. I hope it helps!

  7. on said:

    Can anyone help me please? As I can not get head lice out of my little girl's hair. It's been 6 months and I have tried so many things but nothing has helped so far. Can anyone help? Please email me, I would appreciate it. Thank you! -a mother

  8. on said:

    Try using Vaseline - it works wonders. Our 5 year old got head lice for the first time while he was in school but before we found it I wound up getting it. I went out and bought a tub of Vaseline and then slathered his hair with it and after letting it sit for about 5 minutes or so I proceeded to take the small side of a comb and combed through his hair several times and wiped the comb off onto a paper towel. The lice were dead due to the fact that Vaseline suffocates the bugs. My grandmother told me about this remedy. Although I've made some slight changes to it. She said to leave the Vaseline on the hair for 3 days while combing it through every couple of hours and putting a plastic bag that is tied tightly so that it doesn't come off in sleep and Vaseline doesn't get on the pillow case. It is also a safe remedy for lice during pregnancy due to the fact that there is no chemicals in vaseline that can harm the baby. The changes I have made are that I only keep the Vaseline in the hair for a couple of hours and use a shower cap instead of a plastic bag and then shampoo as normal. Your hair will come out softer, shinier and more manageable than it does with just shampoo and lice will be gone too.

  9. on said:

    Being the parent of 4 kids, we've had a few cases of lice. The first one sent us into a panic - especially after we went out and bought Nix, and used it with zero success.

    I personally haven't tried this vinegar treatment, but here is what we use now (after my first son to get lice served as a human guinea pig and suffered through all sorts of home remedies found on the web with little success) - this works like a charm for us every time. It actually kills the lice and is totally safe and effective!

    Old school Listerine (yep - the yellow kind). Soak hair with it (use a lot - Listerine is cheap!) and then put on a swim cap. I've seen folks say to use a shower cap, but the swim caps work much better - they're tighter, and really lock the stuff in. If you've ever had a kid on a swim team, I'm sure you have at least one laying around the house - and if not, they're cheap and relatively easy to find.

    We leave it on for about 3-4 hours (shorter time may work, but why chance it - right?). The first time we did it, we actually had our son wear it overnight. Kills every bug every time. We repeat after a week to be sure , but I've never seen a single bug after the first treatment.

    Besides having a little of that medicine-y smell, their hair comes out just fine.

  10. on said:

    What kind did you use and did it harm her hair? I have two biracial girls myself and I'm trying to find a natural way without chemicals.

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