Natural head lice remedies are the best way to get rid of hair lice and nits and for lice prevention if you’ve got caught in a cycle where your kids keep getting head lice over and over again.
Unfortunately, we had to learn this the hard way.
Having done quite well at preventing head lice in my daughter’s hair until she was about seven, they then kept coming back, over and over again.
The whole family would drench their hair in some super powered chemical nit shampoo or another. We would be scrupulous about carefully combing out all the nits (the lice eggs) and applying that second dose. We would think the lice were gone and before you know it they were back.
And we’d all be itching again.
Having a read round, it seems part of the problem is the head lice and nits becoming resistant over the years to the anti-nit shampoo. The lice we’re dealing with in our kids’ hair today aren’t the lice of our childhoods, they’re a new breed of super nits who can survive even a double dose of shampoo.
So what are we meant to do?
Well, as I said natural remedies can help get rid of lice and prevent them coming back. The only thing is some natural nit remedies – we discovered again the hard way – don’t help in the long term.
We dutifully followed one natural approach over the school holidays that involved combing hair with oil for half an hour every night for two weeks. It did get rid of the lice and nits. But first day back at school my daughter came back with a head full of new lice from someone else!!! And we were back to square one.
Spending 3 to 4 hours a week getting rid of nits is NOT sustainable.
Luckily however, we have – from lots of trial and error – worked out a natural remedy – or rather a natural approach – to getting rid of hair lice and nits that does work for us and, crucially, is sustainable.
That sustainable bit is super important because kids are always going to be passing hair lice onto each other and so the trick is to stay on top of them simply. If we make it complicated, the lice will win!!
So I’ll take you through below the natural lice remedies we use to get rid of lice but also the simple tips we use for lice prevention on an ongoing basis.
I really hope these tips help.
For more help with common family ailments do check out my other simple natural remedies.
Natural Remedies To Get Rid Of Hair Lice & Nits
Basic Natural Head Lice Removal Steps
OK so day one of this natural remedy for nits IS going to take you half an hour per kid. And I know, I know none of us feel like we have that time.
But if you follow the instructions properly on nit shampoos that’s how long it takes to comb through properly even with fancy chemicals to help out.
And unlike some natural remedies, this approach is NOT going to take you half an hour per kid every night for the rest of the week!!
So before bed go through the following steps:
- Brush dry hair first & get out all the tangles at the bottom. Don’t skip this as it makes the next step easier.
- Half fill sink with water. You can add some of the lice repellent herbs I’ll go through below but it’s not essential.
- Comb a good dollop of oil right through hair with a very fine tooth comb, ideally a special nit comb. (More on which oil to choose below).
- The oil basically helps to suffocate the lice and detach the nits – the lice eggs – from our hair.
- Keep combing through small sections of hair, checking the comb for lice after each single comb through and rinsing any lice off in the water. Try to comb the whole head.
- Keep combing for 30 minutes.
- Comb another dollop of oil through hair.
- Wrap hair up in shower cap and / or towel, and leave oil in over night.
The next morning:
- Wash hair thoroughly.
- If you’ve used olive oil, wash first with a very small amount of mild washing up liquid as most mild shampoos won’t remove the oil. This is a good tip to know even if you are using OTC head lice treatments as they are also too oily for ordinary shampoo.
- Blow dry hair thoroughly paying particular attention to the neck line and behind ears when nits are most likely to have been laid. The hair dryer will help kill off remaining lice and nits.
For the next two weeks at bedtime:
- Brush through hair to remove lugs.
- Half fill sink with water – add lice repellent herbs if very easily to hand but again not essential.
- Comb through hair quickly for 5 minutes, looking for lice and rinsing comb in sink between each comb through.
- Make sure to keep it up at the end of the week, as although you may have cleared all the original lice, any nits you missed will hatch 5 to 8 days after being laid and almost instantly start laying eggs. One lice can lay 300 eggs so we need to stop ’em before they start.
Ideally, keep doing that very quick comb through before bed every night until you’ve gone 8 clear days without seeing a lice. This should ensure you’ve broken the life cycle.
Natural Head Lice Prevention
If you possibly can, make the five minute comb through part of your bedtime routine. It will mean you get rid of new lice – kids are always passing them around – before they have a chance to lay many or any eggs. And if you’ve got daughters with long hair, it actually makes it much quicker to get hair done in the morning.
Alternatively, do a ten minute comb through and check with water weekly before everyone washes their hair. You could also get a family shampoo or conditioner that helps repel lice.
Natural Head Lice Repellents
A number of herbs have traditionally been used to repel and get rid of hair lice and nits and some research suggests they may be more effective than the chemicals in many OTC hair lice shampoos and treatments :
- Tea tree
You could add any of these as oils to the oil you comb through your hair on day one. Make sure you dilute any essential oils as instructed and do a small test for skin irritation before using in someone’s hair.
Alternatively or additionally you could:
- Add fresh herbs to your daily rinse. I have a small herb garden with lavender, thyme and mint in it as they are so useful for so many natural remedies from coughs and colds to insomnia.
- Buy natural shampoos or conditioners based on these natural lice repellent herbs. We use this tea tree shampoo on a regular basis.
Thyme does not appear to be as effective as tea tree, lavender and mint for killing lice but it is a natural antibiotic and antihistamine so if anyone has had an ongoing problem with lice it can help to reduce itching and heal the scalp.
Best Natural Oil To Get Rid Of Head Lice
You can basically use any hair or cooking oil you’ve got for your first comb through as the oil itself suffocates the lice and detaches the nits.
But some research suggests coconut oil is the most effective oil to kill lice and get rid of nits but also because of its natural antibiotic powers to improve scalp health after an infestation.
Head Lice Remedies That Don’t Work
You may find recommendations for using mayonnaise or Listerine as natural remedies to get rid of hair lice but:
- Mayonnaise would only work because it has oil in it, and why on earth would you want to make such a mess??!!
- Listerine is suggested because it has thyme oil in it, and you’re much better off for just using ordinary thyme, although as we’ve seen tea tree oil, lavender and mint are more effective.
So don’t bother with either.
The other thing you should NOT do at the first sign of lice in your kids hair – despite the claims of a zillion Pinterest posts – is try and launder all of your family’s bedding all at once.
Let’s be honest, half of us struggle to ensure our family have got clean underpants and socks everyday!!! Suddenly trying to do three or four more loads of laundry when we’ve got lice to comb out is a recipe for disaster.
Lice can’t survive easily off our heads, so we need to focus our effort on hair. Just change pillow slips and wash hair brushes and combs carefully.
Ongoing Lice Prevention
The final thing we all need to do for ongoing lice prevention is to ‘fess up!! And be really honest, straight away, when our kids get lice.
I know – believe me – how hard it is to confess to other parents when our kids have got nits or worms or ringworm or whatever else.
It’s mortifying. We feel like the worst failures.
But if your kid has nits, almost certainly someone else in the class or on the street has, so the quicker everyone checks and treats them the easier it will be to break the cycle of lice being passed around the class for the rest of the year. So first sight of them, hop on WhatsApp and spill the beans!!
And then pour yourself a stiff drink 😉
I really hope these natural remedies help you get rid of lice in your family’s hair and establish a simple lice prevention regime going forward. Do let me know how you get on.
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