Lavender Oil for Lice: Treat or Prevent

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Discover if you can use lavender oil to prevent and treat head lice. Can lavender oil kill lice and nits?

12 million kids will get head lice this year. Is your child one of them?

With head lice growing immune to traditional treatments, millions of parents around the world are turning to alternatives to treat and prevent lice.

You may have already tried several rounds of over the counter treatments that have failed. Or, you’re just looking for the best way to prevent lice. 

You’ve heard lavender can be a powerful tool against lice. Is it true?

This article answers the following questions (feel free to click below to go to any topic):

Does Lavender Oil Prevent Lice?

Does Lavender Oil Kill Lice?

Lavender and Tea Tree Oil for Lice

Prevention Spray Lice Tutorial

Super Lice

A super lice bug at high magnification.

First, you should know that if you are struggling with head lice, it is not your fault. The current strain of head lice is immune to pesticides found in over the counter treatments and prescriptions. So, most treatments won’t kill lice, no matter how long you leave them on.

Lice today are called “super lice” because they have genetic mutations that make them immune to most treatments. They are VERY difficult to kill.

Multiple studies prove that lice are immune to treatments that worked in the past. Yet, many parents unaware of the research, try big named products 5 or 6 times, before finally giving up and trying something else.

Are you better off using a home remedy like lavender oil?

Does Lavender Oil Prevent Lice?

Head lice are like sharks…

Lice have a keen sense of smell, and they are attracted to human blood. Just like sharks and mosquitoes, they can smell when blood is near. 

When lice smell a new yummy head, they instinctively want to get there and begin their feast. This is why lice spread to so many unsuspecting individuals. 

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The good news is...

You can use lice’s keen sense of smell against them. Because lice are so sensitive to smell, they will instinctively run away from any scent they don’t like.

Believe it or not, your secret weapon lies in essential oils--the same essential oils that smell amazing to you. If you have these scents in your hair, lice will run in the opposite direction to get away from you.

Even though lice hate these scents, they smell lovely to us humans. Essential oils like this are called lice repellents or lice deterrents.

smelling essential oils

Studies show lavender oil to be one of these repelling scents. In one study, lavender appeared to prevent some head lice from feeding on the scalp. But lavender has not proven to be the most repelling scent. In multiple studies, other essential oils like tea tree oil, peppermint, rosemary, and citronella have shown to be much more effective lice deterrents. 

For a full list of the 19 essential oils that deter lice check out my other article here.

If your child doesn’t have lice and you are just looking for prevention information, click here to skip to the Lavender Oil for Lice Prevention section of this article.

Can Lavender Oil Kill Lice?

Lavender oil is an excellent weapon in the fight against head lice in terms of prevention, but that’s as far as it goes. 

Researchers tested lavender in a few studies on its ability to kill head lice, and it did poorly. 

In one study, involving lavender and 54 other essential oils, lavender did not kill lice. Lavender was one of the least effective at killing lice.

Lavender oil by itself is not an effective lice killer, but if mixed with other essential oils such as tea tree oil, it can be helpful in the fight against head lice.

Lavender or Tea Tree Oil for Lice

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In one study, comparing a combination of highly concentrated tea tree and lavender essential oils to traditional pesticide treatments, the tea tree/lavender mixture killed most lice. In contrast, the pesticide treatments only killed about 25% of lice. 

Because of this study of a combination of lavender and tea tree oil, some assume that lavender has “lice-killing” properties, but it does not. In those studies, it’s the tea tree that kills lice, not the lavender.

Other studies testing tea tree oil alone (without lavender oil) show that tea tree may be even more effective when not combined with lavender.

coconut featured

Don’t run out and buy some tea tree shampoo at your local salon; it will not kill head lice. Tea tree oil must be used in high concentrations to kill lice, and the concentrations in tea tree shampoo are not adequate. You’ll need to use essential oils in an exact mixture, which I explain in my Tea Tree Tutorial.

The major disadvantage with both tea tree oil and lavender oil is that when it is applied directly to the scalp, it can cause burning and other reactions. You should dilute both of these oils with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, argan oil, etc. I recommend coconut oil because coconut oil kills lice whereas olive oil does not

I outline exactly how to kill lice with tea tree oil in my article Tea Tree Oil For Lice: How to Kill and Prevent Lice Using Tea Tree Oil.

Other Great Treatments and Home Remedies

You’ve probably already tried several rounds of over the counter or prescription treatments for lice without success. Multiple studies show that lice are immune to those treatments, and yet they still sell them at the store.

But, some lice treatments kill lice, like dimethicone and other home remedies.

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

Dimethicone

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Dimethicone is not a home remedy.

It’s not a prescription

You can’t find dimethicone at your local drug store.

Dimethicone is an entirely safe, non-toxic oil that suffocates and kills all lice in about 15 minutes! It outperforms everything else in killing lice. In studies, dimethicone killed 100% of lice bugs with one treatment for most of the people.

Dimethicone does not kill lice eggs, so you’ll still need a good lice comb like the Nit Free Terminator.

For years, the only places you could get dimethicone were at a professional lice center, but a few lice centers have started selling their products online, and you can purchase them through Amazon. Here are the two best on the market:

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. This 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 easiest treatment to use. It kills all lice within 20 minutes. You’ll need to retreat in about 10 days.

Coconut Oil

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For those of you set on using a home remedy, then coconut oil is your best choice, especially if you add tea tree oil to it. 

In studies, coconut oil alone killed 80% of head lice, but combined with essential oils, its success rate increased. Essential oils that may increase coconut oil success are tea tree oil, anise, and ylang-ylang. 

Unfortunately, coconut oil has little to no effect on lice eggs. It neither kills lice eggs nor prevents them from hatching. 

Complete removal of lice eggs from the head are necessary for coconut oil to get rid of head lice effectively. Read the full article and tutorial at the article Coconut Oil For Head Lice Tutorial.

Lavender and Lice Eggs

Severe head lice infestation commons, no rights reserved

If you’re new to head lice: Lice eggs and nits are the same things. I use the words interchangeably.

Nits have a strong impenetrable shell on them. This shell protects them from any chemicals, solvents, or toxins. So lice treatments and home remedies can not kill them or prevent them from hatching.

Both tea tree oil and lavender oil have little effect on lice eggs. Lice eggs WILL hatch after treatment unless you remove them from the head.

Those that don’t remove lice eggs from the head will find themselves in this endless cycle of head lice.

Lice Eggs Cycle

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

The very best lice comb out there is the Nit-Free Terminator Comb.

I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve tried lice combs, and they don’t work.” That’s because you’re using a lousy comb. 

The Nit Free Terminator is the lice comb I use in my lice center every day.

The teeth of this comb are spaced tightly together, but the real secret is that these teeth have small spirals, creating a “barbed wire” effect on lice and nits, catching them and dragging them down the entire hair strand and out of your child’s hair. 

Lavender Oil For Lice Prevention

lavender prevent

In studies, lavender, along with several other essential oils act as lice repellents.

But, using lavender oil alone as lice prevention is a mistake. While using lavender is better than not using any lice deterring scents, it is not adequate for preventing lice on its own for most people. You are much better off using a variety of essential oils proven to ward off head lice.

Here are the most lice deterring essential oils:

Not all Essential Oils Are Equal

Be careful to use essential oils that are pure and undiluted. Many sell knock offs and “scented” oils that are not essential oils. To prevent lice, you need legitimate essential oils that are quality tested.

My top pick is Barefut Essential Oils because they are about half the price of other essential oils, and they are of high quality. I also like to buy stuff online without having to go through an essential oil rep or subscribe to anything, and with Barefut Essential Oils, I can just go online and buy them without a subscription.

Lice Prevention Spray Tutorial

spray hair

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz spray bottle
  • 6 oz of distilled or purified water
  • 2 Tablespoons of carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil or olive oil
  • 20 Drops of Essential Oils (use a blend in my other article for better protection)

Directions: 

  1. Combine ingredients in an 8 oz spray bottle. 
  2. Shake vigorously. 
  3. Spray every day in hair for lice prevention, shaking vigorously before each use.
  4. Replace every 1-2 months (this is for bacterial reasons)

Tried and True Lice Prevention Sprays

There are some very effective lice prevention sprays already on the market. These sprays are a combination of all of the best prevention essential oils. Instead of making one yourself, you can buy one. I review all lice prevention sprays in another article you can read here, but here are the top 4.

Summing it Up…

Lavender can be a tool to protect yourself from head lice, but it is not an adequate lice killer. If you are looking for an essential oil to kill lice, you will have more success combining tea tree oil and coconut oil. Check out my Coconut Oil for Lice Tutorial to learn how.

You will be most successful in getting rid of lice if you combine a dimethicone treatment with a good metal comb like the Nit-Free Terminator.

Using lavender as a lice deterrent is a good idea, but if you use it alone, you will not repel lice. You’re less likely to get lice if you combine lavender with other essential oils that repel lice like peppermint, tea tree, and citronella. You can find a list of combinations in the article 19 Essential Oils That Repel Lice. Or you can purchase a tried and true lice prevention spray. 

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