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.

Last Updated:


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. on said:

    would the straightener work on a 4 year old's hair? My daughter's been having a lot of problems with lice and i am doing everything i can. please help!

  4. on said:

    The schools in Texas dont check kids head either and my child is half black and white and her head stays oiled up (lol) and she got lice. I went and put relax perm on her head not knowing and it killed a lot but I am still treating her once a month now to keep her from getting it again. It was bad. I have cleaned the whole house, washed everything. Thanks for the tips!

  5. on said:

    Hi. My daughter has lice and must have had them for at least a couple of weeks to a month. I do her hair every morning taking precautions by
    braiding her hair or putting it in a bun. She has coarse thick curly hair and I never saw any lice. They are very good hiders and they look a lot like dandruff flakes. My point is, I brush my daughter's hair thoroughly and she still ended up with them. I used nix lice treatment but am unsure if it will work effectively. But I will be very vigilant from now on. Also a lot of parents don't contact the school and let them know they have a problem so it goes unnoticed. If your kid has lice, report it and keep them out of school until you treat it. We as parents need to be just as responsible with this problem as the school.

  6. on said:

    Hi, I happened to come across your comment. My two daughters and I recently have gotten a case of head lice from a neighbor girl. My daughters actually got it first, I was wondering about the H&S shampoo because BOTH of my children were using H&S every night due to my youngest daughter having a scalp issue and can only use that shampoo. I was wondering how it worked for you and if you have any suggestions on how they may have gotten it if like I said they use that particular shampoo every night before bed. I'm very concerned about this.

  7. on said:

    I live in GA and we have head lice in the school but no one is talking about or doing anything. I have treated my daughter 2 times in 2 weeks. Her 1st grade teacher said they don't check heads anymore and I had told her about the lice in my daughter's hair. We need help! Governor make the schools responsible. Also everyones coat or hat all needs to be bagged seperately daily. This is a  fight that is here at home and it takes everyone being involved.

  8. on said:

    An effective and easy head lice treatment that worked for us (and other Mothers and their kids). The expensive creams and nit comb seemed to take months and didn't seem too effective on a lice problem...finally someone told us to use Apple cider vinegar. So we protected our eyes first and then poured full strength vinegar on the dry hair and put a clear plastic produce bag from the grocery produce section on top of the vinegar soaked hair, and tucked dry paper towels around the edges of the bagged hair to prevent our eyes from getting vinegar in them, and then put a shower cap on. We left this on while taking the shower, and then before shampooing our hair, let the vinegared bagged hair loose and rinsed it out, and then shampooed as usual. Some people just use the vinegar as a final rinse after the shampoo, which is a lot easier, but I was mad at the lice, and was determined to kill them. HOWEVER, full strength vinegar could maybe hurt or harm the eyes... so probably with kids, I'd use vinegar after shampooing, and diluted with a little water first and give the treatments a few weeks to check out the results. Never have been bothered since using the vinegar treatment I mentioned above. The only cleaning we did after starting the vinegar treatment was to change the pillow cases daily and soak the hair brushes in vinegar. No vacumming, etc. was needed. Others know about the vinegar secret and say it works well. Now I have a friend who was bitten with bed bugs, and I'm wondering about an effective home remedy for her. Does anyone know a remedy that works?

  9. on said:

    After two weeks of trying to bribe my two year old to sit still using all the home remedies, vinegar oil, even Lice Free spray, I happened to look at my bottle of Head & Shoulders shampoo. The main ingredient for Lice Free is a non active ingredient in H&S. So common sense clicked in. I tried on myself first (since I ended up getting lice too). Dampen hair with the shampoo thickly, take a shower cap or plastic grocery bag, cover head tightly. Leave on for about an hour and a half. Remove the wrap, let hair air dry (it will get tacky). Start combing with the small end of a regular comb.

  10. on said:

    my name is Kathleen lake. i have head lice. i like the tip you gave. i will try beer in my hair to see if that will get the lice out of my head...

Post Your Comments

Your Name:

Your Email Address: