How to Use Neem Oil for Head Lice

neem oil featured image

Discover whether neem oil is a good choice for lice treatment, how to use it, and how effectively neem oil kills and prevents head lice.

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!

Lice have become immune to over-the-counter treatments that worked in the past.

This article explores the home remedy of neem oil and a full review of using neem oil as a lice treatment compared to other lice treatments and home remedies. Topics include: 

  • Neem for Lice: Does it Work?
  • Does Neem Oil Kill Lice?
  • Neem Oil Lice Treatment
  • Better Home Remedies and Treatments
  • Neem Oil for Lice Prevention
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Before reading this article you should WATCH THE VIDEO above so that you can learn these 5 things and be successful.

Here are a few of the key points covered in the video

  1. Some home remedies help with lice and some make lice way WORSE (find out which ones in the video).
  2. Lice can play dead (learn what I mean in the video)
  3. What's DANGEROUS (learn in the video)
  4. Lice eggs and home remedies
  5. Home remedy treatment plan


Here are the links to the two articles I talk about in the video...

37 Home Remedies- The Good, the Bad, The Dangerous

How to Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro! (ONE DAY, NO RE-TREATMENTS)

Super Lice

A super lice bug at high magnification.

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.

Lice Resistance Trend Graph

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.

Neem Oil

neem smell

The first thing you should know about neem oil before going any further is…


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. 

neem tree

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 other article 37 Home Remedies for Lice for a better home remedy.

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?

confused researcher

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?

neem oil pie graph (1)

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 Experiment

After reading all of these conflicting studies, I decided that I should do a neem oil experiment myself before posting this article.

jar of lice

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.

lice near the jar

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.

neem oil

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? 

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

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.

thumbs down

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.

What's the FASTEST Way To Get Rid of Lice?

The purpose of My Lice Advice is to help parents get rid of lice as fast as possible. And the fastest way to get rid of lice is to get rid of lice in one day, no re-treatments. This is how lice professionals like myself get rid of lice in lice centers. Most people assume that lice professionals use some kind of crazy strong lice product or something. But the truth is that's not how lice professionals get rid of lice so fast....

When I treat lice in my lice center I don't use any toxic chemicals or special treatments. In fact, you can do a professional lice treatment at home without buying any lice products. I teach parents how to do this professional technique on their children at home, on my page Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro!

In Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro! you learn how to get rid of lice in less than a day by doing what the pro's do. And it's gone permanently- there are no re-treatments, and no messing around with lice kits. You do the professional  technique on your child at home, you kill all of the lice and the lice eggs in one session and then you're done with lice. 

That's the FASTEST and MOST EFFECTIVE way to get rid of lice. You can learn how to do it by clicking here.

Neem Oil for Lice Prevention

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?

neem lice repellent (2)

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)

neem treatment

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.

  1. 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).
  2. Leave on the scalp and hair for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. 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.
  4. Anticipate your hair to be very oily and very stinky for the next week.
  5. Anticipate still having lice, because neem oil doesn’t get rid of head lice.

Better Home Remedies Than Neem Oil

If you are looking for an all-natural way to get rid of lice then the very best and FASTEST way to do that is by learning how to do a professional lice treatment on your child at home. You don't need to buy any lice kits or lice products, and you can be done with lice in less than a day. That's what I teach on my page Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro!

If you're set on doing it on your own and you want to hunt around for a home remedy then you can find a list of much better home remedies in my article 37 Home Remedies for Lice. In that article I evaluate every home remedy for lice and let you know how many lice and lice eggs they kill.

You should know that even the best home remedies only kill 80% of lice bugs and no home remedies kill lice eggs. If you decide to go that route then plan on retreating and nit-picking for about 3 weeks.

You can find the Home Remedies article here.

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. 

My advice… 

Neem oil smells terrible, and it doesn’t kill head lice, so this seems like a no-brainer to me. This is what you should do...

If you plan to use a home remedy for lice then I DO NOT recommend you use Neem Oil. Instead I’d recommend you use a more effective home remedy like the ones I cover in this article. But, understand that there is no home remedy or treatment out there that kills all lice bugs or lice eggs, so it’s going to take you several weeks to get rid of lice using a method like that.  If you want to get rid of lice quickly, you should check out the How to Get Rid of Lice Like a Pro! Online Course and get rid of it in ONE DAY.

All the best,

Theresa, My Lice Advice


Theresa is a lice expert with years of experience curing children of lice. She currently works with government agencies and non-profit organizations to help children with the most severe head lice infestations in the US.

Originally trained as a Registered Nurse, she changed specialties to study lice. Later, she opened a lice treatment center where she perfected the PRO technique she teaches in the Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro online course. She now works helping those struggling with lice around the world.

She is the creator of, one of the top lice informational websites in the world and she teaches parents around the world how to get rid of lice in less than a day in the Get Rid of Lice Like a Pro online course.