Natural Treatments to Fight Head Lice

By Scott J. Banks, Joe Kraynak, J. J. Virgin

Head lice are ugly bugs that live in your hair. Over‐the‐counter products for ridding your hair of lice are typically powerful and potentially dangerous insecticides. Instead of exposing yourself or your children to these products, try the following approach:

  1. Saturate the hair with olive or almond oil right down to the scalp, paying close attention to the areas around the ears and hairline.

    Add several drops of tea tree oil or neem (Indian lilac) to the oil before applying it. These essential oils serve as gentle insecticides.

  2. Leave the oil in for about 20 minutes.

  3. Using a lice comb, comb all of the hair carefully in sections, rinsing the comb in hot water as you go.

    This step removes the dead and weakened lice and their eggs.

  4. When you’re done, soak the comb in a 10 percent bleach solution or a 2 percent Lysol solution for 30 minutes, and rinse it well.

  5. Repeat Steps 1 through 4 daily for one week.

  6. For the next two weeks, comb through the hair to make sure all the lice are gone and re‐infestation has not occurred. If you’re re‐infested, repeat the process.

If one member of the household is infested, chances are good that other members are infested as well. Check everyone. To prevent the lice from spreading, wash all clothing and linens in hot water with detergent and machine dry on high heat. Vacuum the surfaces of sofas and pillows that the affected individual may have used.

If you must use an over‐the‐counter product to treat the lice, opt for products that contain permethrin (Nix) over those that contain lindane, especially if you’re using the product on children.