Getting rid of lice can be a grueling experience. These wingless creatures that live on the human head by attaching themselves to the hair follicles are also highly contagious. In the US, over 10 million people get lice infestations every year. The good news is head lice are treatable. There are various chemical and natural treatment options available. Tea tree oil is believed to be one of the best treatments as it is mild on the scalp, making it ideal for children. But can tea tree oil kill lice? Let’s find out below.
Does Tea Tree Oil Kill Lice?
Yes it does. It works by coating the hair follicles and scalp which kills the head lice and soothes the irritated scalp. Studies have been carried out on tea tree oil as an alternative to medical ingredients used for treating head lice. According to one study, most children treated with lavender oil and tea tree oil had no lice after the last day of treatment.
The best part about using tea tree oil as treatment for lice is the fact that it doesn’t have any side effects. Tea tree oil is an insecticide that has powerful antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic and antiviral properties. It also contains terpinen, which is a naturally occurring bacteria-fighting ingredient. All these properties put together make tea tree oil an excellent treatment option for lice.
How to Kill Lice Using Tea Tree Oil
Step 1: Choose pure tea tree oil
As mentioned above, tea tree oil has excellent properties that help treat lice. There are plenty of products in the market claiming to contain tea tree oil. However, they are unlikely to be as effective as pure tea tree oil. A concentration of at least 2% is required to kill lice nits. The best quality tea tree oil is steam distilled from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree.
Step 2: Use a lice comb
Apart from the positive answer to the question “does tea tree oil kill lice”, a lice comb is also a necessary part of the lice treatment. A lice comb has very closely spaced teeth that enable you to take a closer look at the hair near the scalp. A magnifying glass can come in handy too. It will help you examine the scalp after you’re done with treatment.
Step 3: Mix shampoo with tea tree oil
Pure tea tree oil can sometimes cause skin irritation. Mix some tea tree oil with shampoo before using it to treat lice. You can add 2 to 4 drops of tea tree to about 97 drops of shampoo.
Step 4: Apply the mixture onto your hair
Pay close attention to the scalp. When you’re done, cover your hair with a swimming or shower cap and leave it in for about half an hour.
NOTE: If you’re applying it on your child’s hair and they experience an itching or burning sensation, it could be a sign of an allergic reaction. Rinse off the mixture with warm water. Dry the hair with a towel then allow it to air dry.
Step 5: Lather and rinse
Work the hair with your fingers until it lathers to ensure it eliminates most of the lice. Once you’re done rinse your hair with warm water.
Step 6: Apply conditioner
Although the answer to “does tea tree oil kill lice” is yes, there might still be lice left in your hair after the rinse. Apply conditioner to suffocate the remaining lice. Leave the conditioner in the hair.
Step 7: Comb through the hair
Use a lice comb to work through the hair starting at the scalp. If you have long hair, divide it into sections and go through them one by one.
Step 8: Repeat the treatment for a week
Repeat steps 3 through 7 for about a week. While this might appear excessive, lice take about a week to hatch and mature into adult lice. Maintaining treatment for a week will kill any new infestation.
Other Things You Can Add
- Lavender oil
You can use tea tree oil with lavender as a repellant. Mix one teaspoon of tea tree oil with ½ teaspoon of lavender oil. Apply this mixture to your scalp regularly
- Olive Oil
You can mix tea tree oil with olive oil, which is a natural insecticide. This mixture helps loosen up the lice for easy removal. Mix 2 to 3 drops of olive oil with some tea tree oil and apply to the affected area of the scalp. Leave it in for about an hour and rinse it off with vinegar. Now comb your hair to remove dead lice.
Does tea tree oil kill lice? Yes. For better effects, mix about 2 ounces of vodka with about 20 drops of tea tree oil. Using a cotton ball, apply the solution to your hair and leave for atleast10 hours before washing it out.
Other Ways to Treat Lice
You can treat lice with over-the-counter medicated shampoo (pediculicides). Apply to the hair and leave for 10 minutes before washing off. These products are perfectly safe as long as they are used according to the instructions. Treatment should be repeated after 7-10 days to ensure all the nits are eradicated. Should you find nits after two treatments, you can ask your doctor to prescribe more potent medication.
Suffocate the nits by applying mayonnaise, butter, or petroleum jelly to your hair. Put on a shower cap and leave it on overnight. Remove the smothering agent you applied with baby oil. Shampoo and rinse off. Repeat the process a few nights in a row.
Preventing Head Lice in Children
Kids love playing. During play, they can easily get and spread head lice. Below are some measures you can take to protect your child from getting lice.
- Avoid sharing personal items
Do not share any items that touch the head. This includes combs, brushes, hats, helmets, hair clips, scarves, towels, headsets and earbuds. Let your child know that they shouldn’t be sharing these items with friends at home or at school.
- Be careful when using shared spaces
Shared spaces such as lockers, closets and clothes hooks are a breeding ground for lice. Ask your child not to keep his/her belongings in common areas, especially those that come into contact with the head such as hats and scarves.
- Limit contact
Inform your child about avoiding games that involve head-to-head contact with their friends. This is because lice can be spread in this manner. Adults caring for the kids should also be on the lookout.