Essential Oil Blend for Head Lice

A friend called this week to say their family just had head lice, and they kicked it with a blend of essential oils in olive oil. (This friend lives a long way away from the Portland area, in case any of you local readers are starting to feel your skin crawl already.)

A lice infestation is gross, and makes a mother feel like a louse of a clean person (pun intended). But having lice just means one of your children hugged, wrestled, or traded a hat, coat, or scarf with another child who had lice. Children with good mothers get it, and pass it on to other children with good mothers.

So if your kids get it, don’t feel guilty. But also, don’t reach for Uber-Toxic over-the-counter lice shampoos until you try this blend. (And there are reports are that lice are now showing resistance to the OTC and prescription insecticides.)

2 cups olive oil
1 tsp. each: essential oils of tea tree, eucalyptus, oregano, peppermint, cinnamon
Note: the cinnamon seemed quite “hot” to the skin, and was too strong for the little boy in the family whose skin is sensitive. The mom thought it could probably be left out and the blend be just as effective.

Mix well, apply to head and scalp, massage into all the hair. Leave on for 1 hour, then shampoo out with normal shampoo.

The olive oil seems to dissolve the nits from the hair shafts, while the essential oils do a number on the parasites themselves.

I hope this is one recipe you (and I!) never have to use!

Update from the Mom whose family had lice:

I didn’t get to finish telling you this the other day, but the essential oils washed out a lot of the nits, but not ALL of them. To get them out, skip the plastic nit combs from the drug store or that come with the toxic lice shampoo, and go right for the Nit Terminator.

It is sold for about $8 on Amazon, but I found it locally at my Ulta store for double that, $15.95. I didn’t care that it was twice as much money, once I found out we had lice I wanted to start the war THAT DAY and not wait for a package from amazon!

I have gone over everyone’s hair with this comb and the first day it produced quite a few bugs and nits. Ewwww. But on successive days I would only find one or two nits, some days none at all. None the less, I have continued to give everyone a combing each day and will do so until the end of the incubation period, so that if I did miss a nit I know I can brush out the bug.

My plan was to reapply the essential oil mix if I found any live bugs, but I haven’t. My husband has called me the TSA because of my unresonable inspections, but I don’t care. I’m not messing around with this!

Also, I was worried that maybe our long haired inside dog could have caught lice from the children, since she often snuggles with them and sleeps on the furniture. However, a quick search online revealed that lice only live on human blood, and can’t live on dogs or cats. I’m glad I don’t have to start doing lice inspections on her!

7 thoughts on “Essential Oil Blend for Head Lice

  1. I have been researching lice all of an hour, and wanted to add that some of these essential oils are not safe for children under the age of 5. (peppermint and eucalyptus oil). Thorough research is important (but not everyone does, so thought I would put it out there).

    1. Thank you for your comment. Do you have a link for more details on the danger of these two oils for young children?

      1. This was the site that prompted me to look further into the oils:

        Here is one cautioning the use of any mentholated oil on children under the age of 30 months:

        This had some other precautions (for during pregnancy, and if you have high bp, for example):

        About Eucalyptus: I never really found anything that said it was unsafe for children, but more than one site for the lice treatment recommended not using it on children under 2…. I am not sure why (yet, i haven’t looked into it completely) 😉

        I wish I could find more. It’s sometimes frustrating to read that something is unsafe, but be unable to substantiate…

        1. I agree; it is often frustrating to find cautions without explanation. My feeling on it is that natural remedies should be respected as powerful, and used as cautiously and intentionally as chemical remedies. Also, in regards to use on small children and pregnant/lactating women, companies tend to play the caution card for fear of being sued when they aren’t certain of safety, which leads me to take all those warnings with a grain if salt when there isn’t evidence given for the warnings. And, in this instance, we also have to consider the alternatives; does the pesticide shampoo come with a list of possible side effects? You have to weigh the risks against each other.

          For lice in a child under 30 months, perhaps the Crisco/suffocation method combined with a thorough combing would work without any “pesticidal” oils or chemicals? At that age most babies still have fine hair and perhaps mom could clean it thoroughly with a sharp eye?

          1. Yes, that is what I ended up doing for both my boys (one ended up with a haircut he had been asking for for a couple weeks 😉 ). I just used oil and left it in a couple hours, then rinsed, combed, etc. It is frustrating to be cautioned without explanation. And over-caution irritates me because it makes people nonchalant about them and more apt to ignore them (like pregnant/nursing warnings). There are some real dangers out there, and when it is vague, it does a disservice to the consumer, I think.

  2. Also- Oregano oil MUST BE DILUTED (A LOT!) or it WILL BURN (yes- those caps are speaking from experience!)! I would not put an entire teaspoon in, but maybe only several drops… It’s supposed to be in the realm of 1% dilution. And, yes, as stated above, may or may not be suitable for children!? (Though, I have a 1% dilution in Jojoba oil that i use on myself and have just started using on my son to treat a troublesome wart on his ‘sensitive toe’.) Well wishes!! ~

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