Flat Ironing to Kill Lice and Nits

If you have lice, you want to get rid of it as fast as possible. You’ve heard that high heat kills lice and lice eggs. What about flat ironing, will that get rid of lice?

If you have lice, you want to get rid of it as fast as possible. You’ve heard that high heat kills lice and lice eggs. What about flat ironing, will that get rid of lice?

This article answers the following questions:
Can flat ironing kill lice?
Can you get rid of lice by flat ironing the hair?
Does flat ironing kill lice eggs?
Can flat ironing make lice worse?

Super Lice

A super lice bug at high magnification.

Most people researching flat ironing to get rid of lice have tried lots of other lice treatments that haven’t worked. This is an increasing phenomenon because of the newest strain of lice called super lice.

Super lice and regular head lice are pretty much the same bugs, except that super lice are immune to traditional treatments and very difficult to kill.

If you have tried regular treatments that haven’t worked, then assume you are dealing with super lice.

Flat Ironing For Super Lice

A woman flat ironing her hair

Many people are turning to home remedies like flat ironing because the treatments they’ve used haven’t worked.

I will cover flat ironing in detail in this article, but before I do, you should know that there is a much better way to get rid of lice than flat ironing. Keep reading to find out more.

Can You Kill Lice with a Flat Iron?

Up close image of a super lice bug. Lice have six legs attached to their abdomen. The lice appears golden brown/translucent in color. Its dark stomach can be seen through its shell. The lice is attached to a blonde hairstrand.

The first question I ask is: What is your end goal?

Do you want to kill a few lice?

Or do you want to get rid of lice completely?

If your goal is to fry a few bugs in your hair, then a flat iron is capable of that. Lice and lice eggs die in temperatures higher than 130° F (per CDC). Most flat irons get up to 450° F, so if you happen to squeeze some lice with a flat iron, you can sizzle a few.

Can You Get Rid of Lice With A Flat Iron?

No, if you have a head lice infestation you can not get rid of it by flat ironing the hair. Here’s why...

#1- Lice Live on the Scalp More Than The Hair

A lice bug on a hair strand near the scalp.

Most head lice do not live in the lower part of the hair; they live directly on the scalp and right next to the scalp. They go to the scalp very frequently, because that’s where they feed on your blood. They aren’t usually hanging out in the lower areas of the hair.

To get a flat iron close enough to the head to kill most head lice, you will burn the scalp. And I’m talking, bad burns, 450° F of heat on the scalp causes severe burns and blisters. There have been multiple well-intentioned parents invested for child abuse for lice home remedies like this gone wrong. I don’t want anything like that to happen to you.

#2- Lice Move Quickly

A lice quickly crawling through a woman's blond hair.

Have you seen how quickly lice move in the scalp and the hair? Lice have little claws that enable them to scurry from hair strand to hair strand with ease and high speed. That’s why it is so hard to catch them!

What is preventing head lice from moving around on the head while you’re flat ironing? It’s not like you can flat iron every strand of hair at the very same time. Are you planning on having 12 flat irons on the hair all at once?

Think about it, when you flat iron one area, the lice will move to the other side of the head. By the time you move to the other side of the head, the lice will have moved to the already flat ironed side. It’s impossible to catch them all.

Much More Effective Than Flat Ironing

Flat ironing will only kill a few lice, but to get rid of lice, you need to do something different.

Don’t run to the store and pick up a “popular” lice treatment. Those are usually among the very worst at killing lice, so don’t be fooled by big-name brands and hollow promises of “killing super lice” on the treatment box.

For years the only places that you could find a lice treatment kit that killed the new super lice were at a professional lice center. But, fortunately, many of these professional centers have started selling their products online.

 (A quick disclosure: these are affiliate links, and I do earn a commission from qualifying purchases; however, I base my reviews on the quality of the products)

Best Over-All Kit

The Ladibugs Lice Elimination Kit comes with a serum that kills both lice and super lice. It also comes with an enzyme mousse that helps loosen lice eggs, making them much easier to remove. Ladibugs is a one-and-done kit, which means you have everything you need for one person in one kit. The enzyme mousse can be used multiple times over several days to remove lice eggs.

Easiest to Use Lice Killer

Lice Clinics Lice Remover Kit comes with an easy dispenser and is probably the most straightforward treatment to use. It kills all lice within 20 minutes. You’ll need to retreat in about 10 days.

Best All Natural

The best natural treatment at killing super lice is Head Hunters Pro WipeOut (make sure you get the kit with the Pro-Lice Comb). Head Hunters is the best treatment for those with thick hair. It will leave your hair feeling and smelling amazing.

Best for Lice Eggs

Enzyme-based treatments can be the right choice as well. Enzyme treatments take a little longer to kill head lice and only work if used multiple times, but in exchange, they break down the glue that holds lice eggs in place. The best enzyme lice treatment kit is Fairy Tales Lice Elimination Kit because it comes with the Nit Free Terminator comb and a prevention spray.

Flat Iron for Lice Eggs

Flat ironing lice eggs with the intention of them not hatching is never going to be effective. Here’s why…

(If you are new to lice: lice eggs and nits are the same things, I use the two words interchangeably.)

#1- Lice Eggs Are Next to the Scalp

A woman with lice eggs near the scalp. The lice eggs are likely new.

Lice lay their eggs within ¼ inch of the scalp because nits have to have the heat of the head to grow and hatch. Because being right next to the scalp is so essential for nits, female lice cement nits to the hair strand with special glue. This glue is powerful; lice eggs are stuck there and are not moving.

If you intend to flat iron those nits that are next to the scalp, you will burn your child’s head! Most flat irons get to 450° F, so expect severe burns with blisters. Again, a word of caution: I have seen many lice treatments gone wrong that end up looking like child abuse. Don’t do it; it’s not worth it.

#2- What about the lice eggs further down the hair strand?

A woman with lice eggs attached to her hair. The eggs are attached further down the hair strand (away from her scalp). These eggs are likely already hatched and the woman has likely had lice for a long time.

If you find a lot of lice eggs further down the hair strand that is easy to access via flat iron, you’ve likely had lice for a very long time. Lice eggs further down the hair are usually old and already hatched, meaning that lice have already left those eggs and are crawling in the hair. Flat ironing these already hatched lice eggs do not get you any closer to getting rid of head lice.

Flat Ironing Makes Lice WORSE

When you flat iron lice eggs on the hair, it makes them significantly harder to remove. As explained above, the only lice eggs you can flat iron without burning the scalp are the old, hatched eggs further down the hair strand, which gets you no closer to getting rid of lice. But the intense heat from the flat iron actually “binds” these to the hair strand, making them even more difficult to remove! 

Lice Eggs 101

One of the biggest mistakes people make is not removing all of the lice eggs from their child’s hair. You’ll find a lot of products advertising “kills lice eggs,” but don’t be fooled by these gimmicks. Some lice treatments may kill some eggs, but no treatment product today kills all lice eggs. 

If you try to kill lice eggs with a flat iron, you will fail, and you will get stuck in a never-ending cycle of lice...

The Lice Egg Cycle: Lice hatch from eggs, lice grow and lay more eggs, you treat your hair, some lice eggs are missed, and then the cycle starts over and lice hatch from eggs again.

The best thing you can do to “kill” lice eggs is manually remove them from the head. Once lice eggs are pulled from the hair and thrown into the trash, they will not be able to hatch because you have removed them from their heat source (the head).

Nit-picking is an option, but it is incredibly time-consuming and overwhelming.

The fastest, easiest, and most effective way to get rid of lice eggs permanently is with a professional-level head lice comb.

I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve tried lice combs before, and they don’t work.” That’s because you are using a lousy comb. There are only a few good lice combs on the market today, and you can’t find any of them at the drugstore. The very best lice comb out there is the Nit-Free Terminator Comb.

The Terminator is the lice comb almost every lice professional use in their salon. The teeth of this comb are spaced tightly together, but the real secret is that these teeth have small spirals that create a “barbed wire” effect on lice and nits. This “barbed wire” catches nits and drags them down the entire hair strand and out of your hair.

How to Get Rid of Head Lice

If you discover lice or lice eggs in your child’s hair, then undoubtedly you will want to get rid of it quickly. Here are the steps to getting rid of head lice fast.

  1. Use a treatment that works on BOTH lice and super lice such as LadibugsLice ClinicsHead Hunters, or Fairy Tales
  2. Remove all lice eggs with the Nit Free Terminator Comb.
  3. Check all family members for head lice with a lice comb or treat all family members with an enzyme shampoo like LiceLogic Clear & Free Shampoo
  4. Keep checking with a lice comb and retreat 10 days later, not a week later. Lice eggs on the head hatch after 7-10 days, if you retreat or recheck after a week, you may miss something that hasn’t hatched.
  5. Clean your house using the following principles as a guide or check out the article Lice Cleaning Checklist to Get Rid of Lice in Your Home.

Think 48 Hours

Focus on cleaning items that have been in contact with the lice-infested individual within the last 48 hours. Lice cannot live longer than 48 hours on household items.

Do Not Use Lice Sprays

Lice sprays do not work on super lice. Multiple scientific studies have shown that almost all lice in the US are resistant to the pesticide found in lice sprays. The only lice sprays that work for killing super lice are enzyme lice sprays like LiceLogic Clear & Free All Purpose Spray.

Vacuum

You can vacuum surfaces such as couches and mattresses.

Clean Your Brushes

Soak hairbrushes, combs, and hair accessories (such as hairbands, clips, and headbands) used by the person with lice in hot water (135° F or higher) for at least 10 minutes. (I do not recommend boiling brushes and combs, however, because they will melt.)

Items in the Dryer

Put items in the dryer for 40 minutes on high heat.

Bag Items for 2 Days

Lice can’t live without blood for very long; anything that could have lice on it will be safe to use again after 48 hours. If an item is something that you cannot run through the dryer, like a favorite stuffed toy or delicate clothing, you can seal it away in a bag for a couple of days. 

Don’t Forget Carseats

Vacuum car seats of infested individuals.

If You Keep Getting Lice Back

If you keep getting lice back every month or two, you probably never really got rid of it. Most people leave lice eggs in the hair and assume that if they don't see any lice bugs, then they’re good to go.

The truth is that when lice first hatch from eggs, they are tiny, almost invisible. It takes a few months for those small lice to grow, lay eggs, and reinfest the hair again. If lice keep coming back every few weeks, then you are in this cycle. To “prevent” getting lice back, you have to get rid of lice first.

If you are in this cycle, I recommend the article 7 Reasons You Keep Getting Lice and How to Stop it From Coming Back.

Flat Ironing as Lice Prevention

Flat ironing hair can be helpful for lice prevention in theory. In theory, if you just got lice and only had one bug in your hair, you could “get lucky” and run your flat iron over the bug before it laid any eggs. If you want to add that to your prevention arsenal, you can. But, much, much more effective at preventing lice is using a lice prevention shampoo or spray.

Lice have a keen sense of smell. They are so contagious because they smell human blood and instinctively move from one head to another. 

But, you can use lice’s keen sense of smell against them. There are certain scents that lice hate, and if you have these scents in your hair, then you are less likely to get lice. 19 essential oils repel lice, but I recommend buying a lice repellent spray that has is tested and proven works. I’ve tested them all, and the best are these:

Summing it Up...

Flat ironing the hair can kill a few lice, but if your goal is to get rid of lice, then flat ironing won’t cut it. Flat ironing the hair does not kill lice eggs because lice lay eggs so close to the scalp that you would get severe burns from the heat of the flat iron. A better treatment plan is to use a professional, super lice treatment and a Nit Free Terminator Comb to remove lice eggs from the hair.

If you’ve gone around and around with lice, then I recommend that you read the article:

7 Reasons You Keep Getting Lice and How to Stop it From Coming Back

Best of luck on your lice journey! (1)