What can you do about Head Lice?

As we approach another school year, it's better to be safe than sorry  when  the school nurse calls you – your child  have been diagnosed with a case of head lice.Once lice are found your children may not be able to return to school until you have a treatment well at hand. Many parents don’t want to expose their children repeatedly to the toxic chemicals found in the over the counter treatments.   We have many mothers call the salon, and we'd like to post some help to find a option that can repel these intruders. One can use in the hair each time before they shampoo and also for something to apply to the hair in between.

The references for essential oils that work against lice both the live bugs and their eggs aka nits suggested using a blend that may include any of the following essential oils: Tea Tree, Lavender, Anise, Cinnamon Leaf, Oregano, Eucalyptus Globulus, Thyme, Cloves and Peppermint.

Other oils that may also work include: Bergamot, Spearmint, Naiouli, Marjoram, Petitgrain, Pennyroyal, Ravensara, Roman chamomile, Eucalyptus Citriodora, Clary sage, Jasmine, Lemongrass, Rosemary, and Ylang-ylang.

Several recipes suggested the use of Tea Tree. As in studies it was found that Tea Tree was able to kill both the adults and penetrate the egg shell and kill the yet un-hatched eggs by itself at about 83-93%. Another essential oil Oregano showed 100% kill of both adults and eggs. Two other essential oils, Anise and Cinnamon leaf, had high kill rates too. Below is a Basic Lice Blend that can be used to help kill and repel these unwelcome hair and scalp guests. Follow the suggestions for a Pre-shampoo treatment, Post-Shampoo, and a Hair Spray to help repel and prevent future infestations.

Basic Lice Blend

Tea Tree – 10 drops Lavender – 10 drops Oregano – 5 drops Peppermint – 5 drops Cinnamon – 5 drops

Blend in an amber bottle. You may want to double or triple this basic recipe to make it easier for use.

Step one Mix 1 ounce of Jojoba with 7-8 drops of the above blend. Massage into and on the hair. Leave in the hair wrapped in a towel for 1-2 hours. Shampoo hair, do not dry.

Step two Mix ¼ cup water with ¼ cup vinegar, add 7-8 drops of the above Basic Lice blend. Shake well, then rinse the hair with this. Do NOT rinse with water. Comb the hair out thoroughly using a ‘nit’ comb (available at most pharmacy’s). Rinse or wipe the comb to remove debris, dead lice and nits between combing strokes. The vinegar helps to remove the glue that holds the eggs to the hair shafts. After combing thoroughly, let the hair dry.

Step three The day after the shampoo, rinse and combing - Spray on the following - To 8 ounces of our Body spray OR distilled water add 10 drops of the basic lice blend. Spray on the hair once daily between shampooing. If desired increase the Lavender to make the blend more pleasant for use as a hair spray. A light spray misting is all that is necessary.

If necessary repeat Steps One and Two every 5 – 7 days for up to 2 weeks. You can continue Step Three as long as desired as this should help to keep the lice away. If irritation develops discontinue use.

Lice biology

  • The life cycle of the louse is about 4 weeks. Approximately 8 days are spent in the egg stage, which is the hardest stage to kill. The eggs then hatch into tiny lice (first instar nymphs), then into second and third instars and finally into adults. Female lice are larger than males.
  • Lice eggs are opaque. If they are clear, it means the lice have already hatched out.
  • Healthy lice and eggs are found only within 1 cm of the scalp. They are transmitted by head-to-head contact, not by combs, brushes or furniture, and neither do they live in school buildings or home carpets.
  • Head lice are not a sign of bad hygiene. They prefer clean hair to dirty hair.


  • It may take several months for a person to become sensitised to the presence of lice, so when treating the affected person it is also important to check all people who have been in close contact with the person during that time. Look at the roots of the hair for lice, eggs, lice faeces (black specks) and cast skins. Faeces and skins may also be found on pillows of the affected person.
  • Treat only those people who show signs of lice.
  • Make sure that enough of the treatment product is used, and follow the instructions as to how long to keep it on the hair. Do not leave it on for less than the suggested time.
  • Shampoos in general will not kill lice as the solution is too weak by the time the extra water needed for hair-washing has been added. This applies to both conventional lice shampoos and those containing essential oils. It is much better to use an aqueous or alcoholic lotion or a conditioner base.
  • Comb the hair well afterwards to remove dead and dying lice.
  • Repeat the treatment after a week, unless told otherwise.
  • If the protocol states that the procedure should be repeated every 2 days, or even more often, this implies that the treatment is not effective on lice eggs.

Reference:   Birch Hill Happenings Aromatherapy, LLC

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