Using Essential Oils To Avoid Head Lice

Most parents will have experienced the ‘joy’ of a lice outbreak at their child’s school at least once. Your wee one comes home from school with a few new ‘friends’ and suddenly your life is revolving around nit combs, awful-smelling sprays, lotions and shampoo for what seems like an eternity. Unfortunately these outbreaks can occur with irritating regularity and if you have more than one child chances are the lice will spread throughout the entire family.

Of course there are plenty of over-the-counter, head lice remedies available, but the majority of these contain harsh chemicals. Although these solutions are applied to the scalp they are also absorbed into the blood stream. When you consider the effect these chemicals may have, not only on your child’s delicate skin, but on their overall health and well being, it’s no surprise more and more parents are looking to alternative remedies for help. Aromatherapy is a safe, natural way to protect you and your child from head lice.


If you are in the midst of an outbreak, don’t panic as essential oils like eucalyptus, lavender, geranium, tea tree, chamomile and lemon can be used to successfully rid yourself of these pesky critters! These are great ‘repellant oils’ and will also discourage the lice from biting into the skin on the scalp, where they feed. Another benefit is that oils such as lavender, tea tree and chamomile can help soothe and heal irritated, itchy scalps. While lice don’t tend to live very long, about 32-35 days, they reproduce quite prolifically so it’s important to use your Aromatherapy treatment regularly until the cycle is broken.

Make an oil mixture to be applied to the hair and scalp before shampooing. It’s beneficial to make up a bulk blend so you have it to hand for regular treatments, normally between 3-4 per week until lice is gone. Use 120ml of a light carrier oil such as grapeseed and add 12-drops lavender, 8-drops tea tree, 6-drops eucalyptus and 3-lemon. The amount you use for each treatment will depend on the length of your child’s hair. Dampen the hair first before applying the blend. Massage the mixture well into the scalp, around the ears and back of the neck and pull it through the strands of hair right down to the ends. Wrap your child’s head in a towel, leaving the blend in for an hour. It may be time to put on their favourite Disney film to keep them entertained while the oils take effect!

While the essential oils will ‘attack’ the lice, the carrier oil will help to dissolve the ‘glue’ the female louse uses to stick her eggs onto the hair shaft. This means using the nit comb is much more effective. Keep a large bowl of hot water close to hand with equal parts tea tree and lavender in it (about 8 drops each), to kill any lice you comb out. After each comb-through dip the comb into the water/essential oil mixture. If you don’t there is always the risk of a louse escaping, prompting a future infestation. After combing, chuck the water down the loo and flush right away. Never underestimate the determination of a louse!

The treatment continues with the shampoo and conditioner, so best keep that Disney film playing! Ideally use a fragrance-free natural shampoo and conditioner that you can add essential oils to, but you can always add a few drops of oil to regular hair products if needed. In 1-Tablespoon of shampoo add 2-drops lavender and 2-drops chamomile. These are also nice relaxing oils so will help keep your kiddie calm and soothed. The same amount can be added to conditioner to finish the treatment. Continue to use the shampoo and conditioner daily for up to 2-weeks. If lice are still an issue, switch essential oils and use 2 different ones, this will prevent your child from building up sensitivity to one particular oil.


What is very, very important is to ensure any towels, bedding, clothing, hats, hair scrunchies, combs or brushes that have come into contact with your child’s head are thoroughly washed. You can add a few drops of tea-tree oil to your washing detergent and in the case of brushes and combs you can dip them in a blend of recently boiled water and tea-tree. Don’t forget sofa cushions and other soft furnishings! Make an Aromatherapy spray to combat lice by adding 60 ml of distilled water and 30 ml vodka (not the expensive stuff) to a 120ml glass spray bottle. Add 4-drops geranium, 6-drops lavender, 6-drops lemon and 4-drops tea tree and shake well. Vodka has no aroma and it dries almost instantly so it’s ideal for a homemade lice-busting spray!

Even if your child is lice-free it pays to take pre-cautions. Use essential oils 1-2 times a week in their shampoo and conditioning treatments. Not only do these oils smell great and help nourish the hair and scalp, but they can help deter those nasty blighters as well. Always keep watch for the tell-tale signs of an infestation, however. Is your child scratching their head a lot? Can you see small red bumps (bites) especially around the ears and the back of the neck? Regularly check your child’s hair for nits as your wash, brush or comb it as the sooner you tackle them, the less of a hassle they will be!