essential oil for head lice treatment

Essential Oils For Lice – Does It Really Work?

Safety first.

Especially when considering children, safety first is a huge consideration.

Back in the 50’s trucks would drive through residential streets spraying clouds of DDT to kill mosquitoes and other bugs. Kids would have a great time running through the cloud of pesticide behind the truck. Today, thankfully, the dangers of pesticides are better understood and we try to avoid exposure.

Because of exposure to harmful pesticides, natural remedies to lice infestations are in demand and understandably so. Essential oils are increasingly popular with people claiming all manner of benefits and uses for them.

The question is, does treatment with essential oils eradicate a lice infestation?

A quick search online will show that many people believe essential oils are an effective treatment. There has been so much interest that there is a growing number of scientific studies examining the effectiveness of a few of these oils.

The Studies

With the rise in popularity of essential oils, more studies are being conducted to test their effectiveness. The results are promising. In 2002 a study showed that a blend of oils was as effective as the common pesticide used for treatment.

More recently, in 2016 and 2017 studies have shown more support for the effectiveness of essential oils for the treatment of head lice. Some of these studies examine the toxicity of the oil on lice and eggs in a lab dish. While others were conducted on children with lice.

In the careful lab environment the studied oils showed promising results. So if your child has lice should you grab a bottle of essential oil and begin application? Before looking at recommendations, let’s review the nature of a head lice infestation.

Head Lice Infestation

Head lice are adapted to survive on the human head. These tiny bugs cling tightly to the hair close to the scalp. This position keeps them close to the scalp for warmth and easy access to blood meals (both of which are necessary for survival). Eggs (called nits) are attached to the hair near the scalp with a glue-like substance.

To eradicate an active infestation, the adult lice must be killed or removed along with the nits. If only the adult lice are taken care of, a new crop of lice will show up once the nits hatch.

The trouble with traditional pesticide shampoos (aside from pesticide resistant lice) has been that the nits were still viable after treatment and needed to be combed out every few days as they hatched.

So what’s the point?

The point is that an effective treatment must be paired together with proper application.


Essential oils certainly show promise in being another tool in the toolbox to fight lice infestations. The issues at present revolve around what oil is being used, proper dilution of the oil, proper application of the oil, proper follow-up with a lice comb, and potentially retreatment – the studies typically followed a protocol of 2-3 treatments with approximately a week in-between treatments. DIY Lice treatment

More work is certainly being done to find effective combinations of oils and proper dilution to kill the lice and nits without irritating skin. However, even when the best practices are agreed upon, the treatment application must be done properly. Can the treatment be done properly at home? Absolutely. Can it also be improperly done? Again, absolutely.  

The Use of Essential Oils

Essential oils rightfully have a place in dealing with lice. At the Lice Clinics of America, we have preventative shampoo, conditioner, and spray made with essential oil. When children are in situations where the risk of lice infestations are high, these products can be incredibly helpful at keeping the unwelcome bugs away.


Ultimately, the decision to use essential oils for treatment is up to you. You may find great success and the risk of side effects is minimal. However, be prepared to keep a close eye on your child’s head for the next couple of weeks to be sure the treatment was effective.

One the other hand, if you want your lice problem eradicated in one treatment – a treatment free of any pesticides or chemicals – schedule a time with your nearest Lice Clinics of America. The treatment is quick, painless, safe, performed by a professional, and guaranteed. Truly a worry-free lice treatment option.