How to Use Neem Oil for Head Lice
Discover if neem oil is a good choice as a lice treatment and how to use it.
I've treated with lice kits TONS of time and lice keeps coming back! I've heard that need oil can kill lice, is it true?
Answer from a Lice Expert:
Are you looking for a natural approach to lice treatment?
If you have already tried multiple rounds of lice treatments that have failed, you should know that you are not alone, and it’s not your fault!
The latest stats say that most parents that use over-the-counter kits still have lice even after multiple treatments!
After no success with lice kits, some turn to home remedies. Neem oil is one that I see a lot of people turn to in desperation, but before going down the neem oil route there are a few things you should know.
In this article let's talk about exactly what neem oil can do and cannot do when it comes to helping with head lice.
Let me introduce myself...
Hi there! I'm a lice expert, lice coach, Registered Nurse, and the creator of My Lice Advice. I help people with lice every day in my lice treatment center, in school districts, and in government work. But the thing I love the most is empowering parents to get rid of head lice in ONE DAY at home!
You can eliminate lice in one day using the same proven professional technique I use in my lice center on your child. Follow along with the Step-by-Step Video System, and when you're done with the videos you're done with lice. PERMANENTLY!
Neem Oil for Lice
Why Is It So Hard to Get Rid of Lice?
Now that you know what you're looking for I want to talk briefly about your biggest worry (that your child actually has lice) and the question I get asked by parents around the world that have been battling lice….
Parents around the world are all asking me the same question…. "Why is it so much harder to get rid of lice now?"
Lice have become immune to everything that used to work in the past. Perhaps you remember your mom using a typical lice treatment or mayonnaise and that doing the trick. The new strain of head lice is no longer killed by those treatments, that’s why lice today are termed by people, “super lice,” because they are immune to those treatments.
I’ve cured thousands of people of lice in my lice center and let me tell you, I don't do it with over-the-counter lice treatments.
Most people struggle with lice because they focus all of their attention on killing lice bugs and not enough attention on GETTING RID OF LICE!
If you want to get rid of lice you have to address all 3 of the problems of lice:
- Lice Bugs
- Lice Eggs
- Getting Lice Back
The best way to get rid of lice is to tackle all 3 of these problems at the same time, which is what I teach in my step-by-step video system.
So, if you discover your child HAS lice, don't panic. Just head over to the video system. Follow along with the videos and you'll be done with lice by the end of the day.
If you’ve been struggling with lice for a while, you’ve probably had lots of people giving you bad advice.
Probably the most frustrating are the health professionals and websites that say things like, “If you don’t get rid of lice, it’s probably because you didn’t follow the instructions.”
That simply is not true. You’re not getting rid of lice isn’t because you aren’t following instructions, it’s because pesticide treatments DO NOT WORK.
The current strain of head lice, “super lice” are immune to the pesticides found in over-the-counter treatments and prescriptions. Most of these treatments won’t kill lice, no matter how long you leave them on.
Multiple studies prove that lice are immune to treatments that worked in the past. Sadly, many people try brand name lice products five or six times before finally giving up and trying something new.
The struggle is real.
The first thing you should know about neem oil before going any further is…
NEEM OIL SMELLS AWFUL!
Many people gag at the pungent smell of neem oil. And, once you put neem oil in your hair, it will smell nasty for a very long time, even if you wash it several times.
I’ve had plenty of experience with neem, and if I were to describe the scent, I would describe it as a cross between onions, garlic, and peanuts.
You know how after you chop an onion, your hands smell like onions for an hour or so. The same is true of neem oil, except your hands and hair will smell like that for much longer.
If you’re okay with all of that, then keep reading. If you’d prefer your hands, hair, and home not smell putrid for a week, then you should check out my Step-by-Step Video System and save yourself time and the torture of the smell.
Neem oil is not an essential oil; it’s closer to a vegetable oil. Neem oil is made from the seeds of the tropical neem tree found in Asia. The oil has been used for centuries to treat all sorts of ailments, including treating skin conditions, hair conditions, and as a pest repellent.
It’s safe on the skin and scalp, and you can find it in cosmetics, but it can be toxic if ingested.
The ingredient in neem believed to treat head lice is azadirachtin… but does it work?
Neem Oil: Does It Work?
With neem oil, you have two categories of people: One group of people “believers” think neem is a miracle cure for everything, including lice, and the other group of people say they’ve tried neem oil, and it doesn’t work.
The studies on neem oil are conflicting as well. One shows it as a “miracle,” and other studies show it as ineffective.
The study quoted by those touting neem as a miracle cure claims neem oil can not only kill head lice but also prevent lice eggs from hatching.
But is that true?
In the most reputable study of neem oil, participants applied neem oil to their lice-infested heads every 3 days for 2 weeks! Even despite this rigorous regime, 75% of people still had a head full of lice after 2 weeks of this neem lice treatment.
In another thorough study on neem oil and head lice, the results were very obvious...
Neem oil does not cure lice.
Neem Oil & The Never-Ending Cycle
Most people that use lice kits and home remedies get caught in the horrible "Never-Ending Cycle of Lice"
First- You Have Lice
When you first discover lice you have adult lice bugs, baby lice bugs, and lice eggs (also known as nits)
You Think You've Gotten Rid of It.
After using an over-the-counter treatment or a home remedy, people think they've taken care of the problem because they aren't finding lice bugs for a while.
But the bigger problem is the lice eggs that are left in the hair. Lice kits and home remedies don't kill eggs, and each of those little lice eggs has a bug inside just waiting to hatch and re-infest your child again.
Then- Those Eggs HATCH!
Just like lice eggs are tiny, when lice first hatch they are teeny-tiny. In fact, they are almost invisible to the naked eye! So, it typically takes a few weeks for them to grow big enough for you to see them.
And by the time you notice your head is infested all over again!
And Lice Is Back Again!
How to Avoid the Never-Ending Cycle
Neem Oil: The Experiment
After reading all of these conflicting studies, I decided that I should do a neem oil experiment myself before posting this article.
I have done multiple experiments testing lice home remedies ranging from rubbing alcohol to Listerine to hair dye, and this experiment was similar.
Because I work with people with horrific lice every day, I am in a unique position to test something like this out, so I went ahead and did my own neem experiment before posting this article.
I had to do this experiment a little differently because some claim that 100% neem oil needs to be used, while others claim that you should use a mixture of neem oil and shampoo together.
So, several live lice were collected from a recent client with a severe infestation of head lice and divided evenly between two jars.
Jar #1- 100% pure neem oil
Jar #2- A mixture of neem oil and regular shampoo in a 1:2 combination.
Lice and hair were slathered in one of the two neem mixtures and left for 30 minutes.
After the time was up, I removed the hair/lice from the jars, washed the neem oil or neem mixture out of the hair, and placed the lice on a white paper towel in an empty mason jar.
Initially, the lice were immobile and looked dead, but I waited…
This is really common- lice immersed in any oil or liquid become immobile and appear dead for a while.
This common phenomenon, termed “playing dead” by researchers, tricks a lot of people.
The truth is that most lice are closing up their breathing holes and conserving energy, not dying.
This “hibernation- state” fools a lot of people. Don’t be tricked by head lice!
The “hibernation- state” protects lice, making it so that they can conserve energy, and no toxins or liquid will penetrate their breathing holes.
Does Neem Oil Kill Lice?
What I found is that similar to other treatments, the lice played dead when I immersed them in neem oil. After I rinsed them, I saw lice “playing dead” for a few more minutes. But I waited...
And within 15 minutes of being rinsed, the lice “resurrected” back to life.
These results are prevalent for many home remedies like mayonnaise and olive oil.
The first lice resurrected back to life within 15 minutes, but at the end of the hour, half of the lice from both neem test groups were alive and well.
The lice stayed alive until I finally threw them away 24 hours later.
No, neem oil is not an effective lice killer.
Neem oil is not a “miracle” head lice cure. Neem oil can kill a few head lice, but it will not get you any closer to getting rid of head lice.
Neem is similar to other “smother” home remedies where lice appear to be dead but are not. Lice soon resurrect back to life after being rinsed from neem. These lice are capable of feeding and breeding just as before the neem treatment.
Neem Oil for Lice Prevention
Lice have a keen sense of smell, and they are attracted to human blood, just like sharks and mosquitoes.
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.
Is neem oil one of these scents?
In a study testing different lice repellent scents, neem oil was tested and didn’t perform exceptionally well. A combination of citronella and neem repelled some head lice, but it wasn’t dramatic.
Two essential oils stood out:
Tea Tree Oil and Peppermint oil were the best repellents, by far.
Tea Tree oil repelled 55% of head lice.
Peppermint oil repelled 34% of head lice.
To be honest, neem oil smells so bad that it’s not just bugs that won’t want to be around you. Your hair will smell so bad that even you won’t want to be around yourself.
Believe it or not, your secret weapon lies in essential oils--the same essential oils that smell amazing to you, not nasty to you. If you want to buy a lice repellent spray, Ladibugs detangling spray has a mixture of neem and spearmint if you’re looking for something with neem.
Or you can learn to make one yourself on my DIY Lice Prevention Spray Tutorial.
Neem Oil Lice Treatment (Not Recommended)
After seeing neem oil in action (or should I say inaction) against head lice, I can not in good conscience recommend using neem oil for head lice. It simply doesn’t work.
Neem oil doesn’t kill lice, but if you want to waste your time on it, that’s your prerogative. Here’s how you’d do it:
Neem oil is very thick and viscous and can become solid at room temperature (similar to coconut oil). The best way to make neem easier to apply is to run the bottle of neem under a stream of hot water until the oil melts.
- Apply 100% liquid neem oil or a mixture of neem oil diluted in shampoo (1:2 ratio) directly to the hair and scalp (Neither combination gets rid of lice, so it doesn’t matter which one you choose).
- Leave on the scalp and hair for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Wash hair multiple times with a clarifying shampoo to remove the oil. This will likely take numerous rounds of washing and a lot of shampoo to get most of the oil out.
- Anticipate your hair to be very oily and very stinky for the next week.
- Anticipate still having lice, because neem oil doesn’t get rid of head lice.
How to be lice-free by the end of the day...
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Follow along with the videos on your child in your home. No lice kits or toxic chemicals involved!
BE DONE WITH LICE!
When you're done with the videos, you're done with lice. And it's gone permanently!
Summing It Up…
Neem oil stinks at getting rid of head lice (pun intended).
While there are some out there that would have you believe that neem oil is a “miracle cure,” it is not. Neem oil does not kill lice. Using neem oil will not get you any closer to getting rid of head lice.
Neem oil is a lice repellent but is not nearly as effective as tea tree oil and peppermint at deterring head lice.
If you want to get rid of lice quickly then follow along with my Step-by-Step Video System and get rid of it in ONE DAY.
All the best,
Theresa is a Registered Nurse and lice expert with years of experience curing children of lice. She owns a lice treatment center in the US which is where she perfected the Step-by-Step Video System proven to get rid of lice. She also works with government agencies and schools helping those with the worst head lice cases in America.
Her greatest passion is empowering parents by teaching parents online how to do a professional lice treatment on their child at home. She is the Lice Coach for the My Lice Advice Step-by-Step Video System.