Lice Treatment Home Remedies
Tea Tree Oil
There is a lot of information online touting the effectiveness of tea tree oil for killing and repelling lice. A study by the School of Public Health found that though tea tree oil irritated head lice, it did not stop them from spreading or feeding. They concluded that it was the slipperiness of the oils that limited the lice from transferring from untreated to treated hair and not the repellent qualities of the oil.
A study conducted at the University of Queensland found that tea tree oil was just as effective as an over the counter suffocation product composed of non-essential oils. Treating took fifteen days for each method before the children in the study were determined to be lice-free or not. A potential issue with the study method is that they ignored the presence of viable nits when declaring subjects as lice-free and only relied on the absence of adults or nymphs. If nits are within 1.5 cm from the scalp, they are viable and can hatch, which means that a person is not lice-free.
FightBugs.com claims that Listerine can kill adult head lice, but cannot kill nits. They do not recommend using Listerine because of the potential dangers for children because of the high alcohol content.
The Mayo Clinic discourages using any flammable chemicals to treat head lice. Listerine is 20-30% alcohol and very flammable.
Many claims of successful treatment also included regular daily lice combing, which is proven to treat head lice. Since lice can survive underwater for more than eight hours, and the protective casing on nits could prevent Listerine from penetrating them, its more likely that lice combing got rid of the lice and not Listerine.
The Department of Parasitology, at Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, found that mayo could only kill a signifigant amount after 12 hours on the head, but did not kill them all. If one fertilized female or a male and female eggs are left behind, lice can reinfest an entire family.
Consumer Reports has this to say about suffocation methods such as mayonnaise:
“Some alternative treatments—like butter, oil, and petroleum jelly—rely on suffocating or drowning lice, but a 2018 study suggests that this strategy might not work. Researchers found that 100 percent of tested lice survived 8 hours without oxygen, and 6 hours immersed in water. Many were able to survive under those conditions for much longer.”
Overall most of these home remedies are not tested by science. However, they are less expensive when compared to over the counter drugs, lice services, or even drugstore kits. The best course of action to take if you need to get rid of lice on your own, is consistent lice combing with a high-quality comb.
Read: Prescription Lice Treatment Medications
Consumer Reports: The Most Effective Way to Treat Head Lice
Mayo Clinic: Head Lice – Diagnosis & Treatment
Head Lice Center: How to Use Home Remedies to Get Rid of Head Lice and Their Eggs
Healthline: Apple Cider Vinegar for Lice
Fight Bugs: Listerine for Lice