Natural Remedies for Lice

| Modified on May 11, 2024
Posted by Loreley (Jacksonville, Fl) on 10/07/2016

We used kerosene to treat head lice when we were kids and never experienced any undesirable side effects. Sure, it smelled bad and the skin felt a little warm but you get used to it. It killed the lice AND EGGS with one treatment. We used cotton wool balls dosed in kerosene and wiped the hair, covering everything. Wrapped the hair in an old towel. We would stay like that for a few hours, then washed it off.

The hair grew strong, thick and shiny so I don't call that a bad deal. We were a large family and everyone got treated. It works. This is a remedy my great-grandmother passed on -- and say what you will about old wives tales, they often got things right!

My mum tried a modern treatment once, didn't kill the eggs and the lice returned with a vengeance. One other thing, rinse with diluted vinegar to help remove the eggs.

Vodka With Essential Oils
Posted by Mary (Boston) on 11/21/2017

My children have never had lice until my youngest was 9. I tried several of the over the counter treatments however they were pricey and although they killed the lice there was some doubt that they were effectively killing nits. I was also concerned with the chemicals they contained. So I started to research for the best treatment. What I found was Vodka. Vodka contains ethanol which kills both lice and nits. I decided to use 4 oz of vodka mixed in a squirt bottle with 25 drops of tea tree oil (tea tree oil was shown to kill 100% of lice within 30 minutes of application) in a govt study. I also added 25 drops of lavender oil which was shown to kill nits when combined with tea tree oil. I used these in addition to the vodka just as insurance that I was covering all my bases. I soaked my daughters hair with the mixture put a shower cap on and had her sleep in it. In the morning I washed her hair with tea tree oil shampoo and then rinsed it with water then did an apple cider vinegar rinse. The apple cider vinegar actually dissolves the glue that holds the nit to the hair, for easy removal. I then put a tea tree oil conditioner and proceeded to comb her hair with a nit comb, section by section. Then I blow dryed the hair with high heat (heat also kills lice and nits). She went to school and didn't have a critter or egg on her.

I also took 6 oz of rubbing alcohol, with 25 drops each of tea tree oil, lavender, clove and eucalyptus oil and sprayed all my furniture, rugs, mattresses daily. I washed all our bedding, pillows clothing with hot water and 20 drops of tea tree oil in addition to laundry detergent. Dried all clothing on high heat. All bedding was washed daily to be on the safe side. When making our beds, the mattresses, pillows, sheets bedspreads were all sprayed daily with this alcohol/essential oil spray. I also made small spray bottles for us to take to work and school so we could spray our hair throughout the day as a precaution. Worked like a charm, cheap, not messy and safe.

Peppermint Castile Soap
Posted by Chris (Chicago) on 01/18/2016

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Dr Bronners peppermint castile soap for Lice. You have to use the peppermint one though because the peppermint and saponified oils kill the lice. It's used as a natural insecticide in organic gardening.

What you do is you use the Dr Bronners straight undiluted. Apply it generously to dry hair. You do not have to bag it. The soap dries and won't get on your stuff. Even if it does its just soap. Bagging a childs head is a suffocation hazard, I know alot of parents mean well and think it wont happen to their kid but this is more common than you think. So you get a bit of soap on your kids pillow, ITS NOT THAT SERIOUS. Leave the soap in all day or overnight, when you take your kid a bath and rinse it out make sure not to get it in their eyes because the peppermint stings. It's harmless but why make them more uncomfortable. A bunch of dead lice will be falling out of their head after doing the treatment.

Do the UNDILUTED treatment every few days (use your best judgement as you know how bad the infestation is), everyday when you bathe them use the dr bronners diluted as a shampoo and when their hair is dry add coconut oil as a leave in treatment. You can even add peppermint oil to coconut oil but its not necessary. Coconut oil does plenty on its own. You should nit pick but you dont have to. My daughter is autistic and its hard to get her to sit still for it. Also if you miss even one egg and it hatches your efforts were for nothing. Use dr bronners and the coconut oil religously and you will keep killing them as they hatch and youll be lice free before you know it. Use the dr bronners diluted as a shampoo, then use the coconut oil as a leave in treatment. No nit picking necessary. Though if you do a vinegar rinse after shampooing and comb with the nit comb it will help take the eggs out but you can just comb, you dont have to sit there for hours nitpicking. Just comb it through their hair and youll get some eggs out here and there. This is how I rid myself and my daughter of lice without nitpicking through our hair and our family and friends have also has success with the Dr Bronners. I normally notice theyre all gone after 1 or 2 treatments (you might find babies that have hatched after the first treatment). But I keep shampooing for 2 to 4 weeks as a precaution. Washing with Dr bronners regularly and using the coconut oil kills them as they hatch and keeps them from laying more eggs. So even if you are nitpicking and miss some eggs they wont live long enough to mature and lay more. And remember to use the Undiluted treatment every few days as a more heavy duty treatment. Its the most important one.

On another note PLEASE DO NOT USE KEROSENE on your child's head to get rid of lice. All it takes is some static on your childs clothes to light the kerosene and their head on fire. It's very dangerous. I understand lice suck and they are a plague on our children but at the end of the day they are harmless bugs. You don't need to practically douse your childs head (or yours) in gasoline. ITS NOT THAT SERIOUS.

Farm Ivermectin
Posted by Nivchek (Eastern Europe) on 12/07/2021

I made a gel out of agar agar using the package directions. When it was still a liquid, I added 10mL of 1% Ivermectin injectable liquid for farm animals to 70mL of the gel. Then I let it cool in the fridge. Applied liberally to roots, and let dry. Hair looked shiny and beautiful. After a day or two, washed as usual. I did this on my whole family at once and we have now been lice-free for at least 4 months!

This remedy kills nits and lice and does not require combing. They say that the nits might hatch out in small quantities, but not be viable because of the chemical treatment they received while developing.

No odor, no irritation, no problems!

I had tried EVERYTHING else, and because I was trying to treat myself and multiple kids, I simply couldn't make the other solutions work.

Borax and Peppermint Shampoo
Posted by Teena (Aus) on 07/14/2017 233 posts

My boys also had recurring lice problem. Since I made my own borax shampoo and added several drops of peppermint oil to the liquid, I have been pleased to note my kids no longer have lice and my sometimes itchy scalp (I suspect hereditary psoriasis but have been in denial) had also cleared. We use the shampoo everyday. Oh and from top to toe also.

I used an old shampoo bottle with the pump and put in about a cm of borax, filled with hot water to dissolve, didn't dissolve well but doesn't matter. Added few drops peppermint oil for scent. Now this doesn't foam, and is very watery, maybe you can thicken with Aloe vera? So when using I shake, pump out some and apply to all areas of my scalp, it easily runs down hair to coat. Can use on entire body. To rinse out you make a mix of 1/4 tsp citric acid to about a liter water and as required.

To specifically address lice I would add tto, maybe clove eo, and not use the rinse for about a week (this is what I did as I was waiting for empty conditioner bottle). Might also consider making a thicker paste of borax to apply and leave in. I just used the shampoo as is and my children are now happily lice free.

Hope this helps.

Coconut Oil
Posted by Mom Of 2 (Chicago Il) on 10/15/2015

I used coconut oil mixed with tea tree oil and lavendar oil but it on my child's hair for one hour, shampooed out and used a nit comb. Excellent. One time was all it took-earth clinic is wonderful.

Flat Iron
Posted by Angela (Wyoming) on 10/23/2016

My girls and I had lice. I tried the lice md, tea tree oil and coconut oil. We still found lice. I decided to cook the lice with a flat iron. I got as close as I could to the root. I did this 2x's a day for 3 days. I also combed with the flea comb 2x's a day. We never reused anything during this time. New towels, clothes, coats, and we threw out hair ties. We wore shower caps to bed and I put all bedding in the dryer ever morning. I also vacuumed a lot! Over kill probably but I hear people have these for years. Once I used the flat iron I haven't brushed out or seen any bugs. I swear this works. I see the professional lice people use a hot dryer to heat/kill lice. Why not a flat iron? I hope this helps you all.

Posted by Mel B (PA) on 06/07/2021

I am African so combing for lice with a steel comb wasn't an option. I couldn't find anyone who was familiar with lice so I thought about what my ancestors did. We always greased the scalp after washing hair. So I pulled out Vaseline and put it from scalp to tip then covered it with a plastic bag and added a scarf for fashion. It drips a little and sometimes you see dead ones. But this process will smother them and kill them off in seconds. I had zero itching.

Also I washed it out in 3 days and reapplied and wrapped again for any eggs that will be hatching. They say they hatch within 7 days so I kept it on 4 more days. Washed hair as usual and no more lice.

For good measure I spray hair first with ACV and covered with scarf. I saw about 80% dead but some big ones were crawling around on plastic when I removed from head. I think the ACV made them run from my scalp?? One of my sons got lice from school and it only spread to me and my other son. My girls and husband were fine. I didn't treat any linen or go crazy around the house. I simply put Vaseline in everyone's hair so they have no source. We were all clear in a week.

Vaseline is cheap and simple if you can stay inside. If not put on a decorative scarf and hat/wig over it.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Robert Henry (Ten Mile, Tn.) on 08/05/2016

HI U GOOD FOLKS DOIN,,,,,,,,,,, net surfing and found this,

I am from New Mexico and my daughter had lice in the 5th grade. I tried the over counter medicine but it didn't work. She has really long thick hair so we didn't notice until they were bad... it's like they popped up overnight... the Dr suggested mayonnaise but I chose to use Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. I put the vinegar in big spray bottle without diluting it and made her cover her face and the I soaked her hair with it.. the smell yes is strong but it does the job quick. I left it in her hair for about an hour or more had her shower and she said she could see them falling off.. She had no nits to comb out her hair was super soft too. I didn't have to do another treatment.


Posted by Joshua (Lebanon, Pennsylvania, USA) on 08/12/2012

For those suffering from head lice, as well as many other tiny parasites that live in the hair and on the skin, do not be afraid of using kerosene! It is an old remedy that works and does not harm the skin or hair. It will even help cure at least some skin problems. The only problem is that it smells bad. It is a product of petroleum, just as is vasoline. Even diesel fuel is a good remedy since it is very closely related to kerosene; the only difference being the temperature used to distill the petroleum to produce the kerosene or diesel. In fact, my Dad told me that his father used to give him and his siblings a teaspoon of kerosene mixed with sugar for colds! Yes, taken internally! I tried two tablespoons once when having digestion problems and it took care of the problem! Having said all that, kerosene/diesel is not something to be taken for any and all illnesses. It is good for killing parasites, including on your pets. Try it.

Posted by Slim (Cal., US) on 03/14/2015

I have taken it internally & have had no side effects. Check this link.

Posted by Blossom (France) on 12/27/2017

For head lice I use vodka. Any 40 percent alcohol is good. Put on head wrap scalp in plastic bag. Leaving no room for air in or out. They get killed by the alcohol fumes. Wait 40 minutes. Wash off.

This kills lice, not their eggs, so repeat in 1 week to kill the lice that will have hatched out.

I'm happy to treat with non toxic things for my girls. Lice free house. Works without fail.

Multiple Remedies
Posted by Kate (Nebraska, US) on 07/14/2014

I discovered a horrid infestation on my son yesterday. The thousands of nits were too difficult to remove and he requested his head shaved. I had already treated and we washed everything in hot water, etc...once it was all over I got to thinking...with an infestation that large (and it was awful)...why did I not have one nit or bug? In the last several months I have taken to not shampooing (maybe once every week or two, as I am preparing my scalp for dread locks) so I should have been infested too. Then I remembered. I was worried about getting a fungus from not shampooing so I have been spraying a home made solution in my hair every day. Distilled water, Aloe Vera Gel, Sea Salt, Fractured Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Lavender Essential Oil and Lemongrass Essential oil. Now that I've been reading this forum, I understand exactly why my head is so clean. My son has now taken to spraying the solution on his bald head ;) Good Luck all!

Coconut Oil
Posted by Angela (Escondido, Ca) on 08/08/2012

Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil in liquid form - the best! At first I used an OTC topical and spent all night combing my hair and both of my girl's hair. It didn't work well and I could immediately tell I'd have to repeat. We all wore hair shower caps to bed. The poision dried out our hair and I got sick from the chemicals.

I went online to look for a natural cure, found coconut oil, had some on hand, and used it. After applying a somewhat generous amount, concentrating on the scalp, to our hair, the shower caps went back on for two hours. I then recombed their hair, scalp down, it was clearly evident it worked!!! I rinsed our hair with vinegar and used shampoo - no conditioner. Recombed our hair and we were clean! I'm going to repeat one or two more times every week. Our hair, still a bit oily, is so soft now and no more itchiness! Organic coconut oil - AMAZING!

Eucalyptus Oil
Posted by Mama To Many (Tn) on 08/07/2017

Yes, I think she means Eucalyptus essential oil.

For a child I would not use more than 5 drops each of tea tree and eucalyptus per 2 Tablespoons of olive oil (then mix with dish soap). That will still be plenty strong. Essential oils are very concentrated.

~Mama to Many~

Coconut Oil
Posted by Maskeen (Dubai, Uae) on 01/01/2011

When I was young and had immigrated to the US, I had lice in my hair. My mom put virgin coconut oil in my hair and made me go play out in the yard. Coconut oil hardens below 76 degrees F. The oil hardened in my hair and the lice died. She did this for two weeks to make certain the the newly hatched nits also died. Within two weeks I was lice free.

Cedarwood Oil
Posted by Mama To Many (Tn) on 11/03/2017

Dear Elle,

Yes, a carrier oil. Olive or coconut or castor oil are good. 20 drops cedar oil to 1 Tablespoon carrier. Massage into scalp. Carefully as this can really tangle longer hair. Leave it in for an hour or so.

Yes, wash it out. It may take two shampooings.

Rinsing with apple cider vinegar (diluted 1/2 with water) can help, too.

~Mama to Many~

Posted by Sandy (Il, Usa) on 09/02/2020

Growing up in India, whenever I had lice my mom applied kerosene and it worked well. Kerosene also helps any pain in the leg and knees. I always used to massag my grandma's legs with kerosene. It works.