Olive Oil For Lice Treatment Tutorial: Does Olive Oil Kill Lice?
Discover whether olive oil is a good treatment for lice and how effective olive oil is at killing lice.
Lice have become immune to everything that used to work in the past. Perhaps you remember your mom using a typical lice treatment 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.”
Most people find themselves in a viscous cycle that looks like this…
- You discover lice, you spend hours treating, nit-picking, house cleaning
- You think it’s gone for a few weeks…
- But, then it’s back again!
As a result, many parents are turning to home remedies like olive oil as an alternative.
Olive Oil For Lice Video Tutorial
Why Is It So Hard to Get Rid of 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 2 of the problems of lice:
- Lice Bugs
- Lice Eggs
The best way to get rid of lice is to tackle both of these problems at the same time, which is what I teach in Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro.
Does Olive Oil Kill Lice?
The theory behind olive oil is that it can “smother” and suffocate head lice if left on the head for 8 hours. Multiple studies tested the effectiveness of olive oil on head lice.
In a recent study comparing the effectiveness of six different home remedies on head lice, hair was completely saturated in olive oil and left to sit for a full 8 hours. After 8 hours, researchers examined the hair for live vs. dead head lice.
How did olive oil do?
Olive oil killed only 2% of head lice.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Olive oil killed 2% of head lice, and 98% of head lice were still alive after being completely covered in olive oil for 8 hours.
So, does olive oil kill lice? NO!
Why Do People Recommend Olive Oil?
Studies show that submerging lice in oil or water causes them to go into survival mode. One of their greatest survival skills is that they hold still and stop breathing.
Historically, people believed that lice could only hold their breath for 6 hours, but multiple studies have debunked that theory. For example, one study shows that many lice can hold their breath up to 12 hours, while another study shows many lice living past 14 hours. And another showed that 50% of lice could live more than 24 hours.
When you submerge lice in oil, they usually go into a hibernation state to conserve energy. One study termed this as “playing dead.” When people use olive oil for head lice, this “playing dead” is what they see, and they assume that lice are, in fact, dead.
The studies also show that lice usually remain in this hibernation state after removed from oils but “resurrect” back to life within a few hours and are soon at full strength and capable of breeding just as before the 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.
Olive Oil and Tea Tree Oil for Lice
While olive oil itself is not effective against head lice, it can be used as a carrier oil for essential oils. Studies testing highly concentrated tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) have shown tea tree oil can kill some lice, but it doesn't have any effect on lice eggs whatsoever.
Tea tree oil straight on the scalp can cause severe skin irritation. So as with all essential oils, it is best to dilute it with a carrier oil such as olive oil. Carrier oils make it less likely for people to have adverse effects from essential oils such as breathing problems or skin irritation. Other carrier oils are almond oil, jojoba oil, or coconut oil.
When mixing tea tree and olive oil, the recommendation is 10 drops of essential oil for every 1 oz of olive oil. Continue to the Tutorial portion of this article to learn more. Again, this isn't the method I'd recommend, because it requires multiple retreatments and I'm a fan of getting rid of lice in one day without re-treatments.
Olive Oil and Vinegar for Lice
Many people claim that the acidity of apple cider vinegar eats away at the glue that holds lice into place on the hair strand, which makes them easier to remove.
In a study testing vinegar on both live lice and lice eggs, apple cider vinegar did the worst against both head lice and lice eggs.
As someone who removes lice and lice eggs from people’s hair every day, I have not seen a difference in vinegar, easing the removal of lice eggs. I think more likely people are looking for a “cure” against lice eggs, and they want to believe apple cider vinegar makes a difference, but it doesn’t.
Does Olive Oil Kill Lice Eggs or Prevent Them From Hatching?
Yes and no. In one study, lice eggs were covered in olive oil for 10 days straight and compared to lice eggs not covered in oil. The eggs not smothered in olive oil had a hatch rate of 87%, lice eggs covered in olive oil for 10 days had a hatch rate of 56%.
I’m not impressed, are you?
All it takes for lice to reinfest your head is 2 lice eggs hatching (one male, one female). So, having 56% of lice eggs hatch instead of 87% doesn’t make a difference. Either way, you will get reinfested with head lice.
Benefits of Olive Oil Lice Treatment
Although it is clear that olive oil doesn’t kill lice, it can still help you get rid of lice.
Olive Oil Freezes Lice and Eases Combing
Have you seen how fast lice move in the hair? Head lice are perfectly designed to maneuver through the hair with ease and speed. Saturating the hair in olive oil usually puts them into a “play dead” mode, so they are completely immobile. This makes them a lot easier to remove since they won’t be running away.
Removing lice and lice eggs from the hair with a professional level lice comb will get rid of lice. Having olive oil in the hair can help the comb slide through hair easily.
Risks of Olive Oil Lice Treatment
Plastic Overnight Can Be Deadly
Olive oil lice treatments require you to saturate the hair in olive oil, place a plastic cap on it and then have your child sleep in it. Leaving plastic on your child while she sleeps can lead to suffocation as it did in this news story:
“Massachusetts police are investigating the death of an 18-month old child who suffocated, apparently because of a home remedy for head lice...
...a plastic shopping bag was placed over her head, a common home remedy for head lice. The girl was left unattended and apparently fell asleep, allowing the bag to slip down over her face, suffocating her.”
Better Home Remedies Than Olive 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.
Olive Oil Treatment Tutorial
I CANNOT IN GOOD CONSCIENCE RECOMMEND OLIVE OIL FOR LICE TO ANYONE, BECAUSE I KNOW THAT IT DOESN'T ACTUALLY KILL LICE. INSTEAD FIND A BETTER HOME REMEDY IN THIS ARTICLE.
But, for those of you set on doing it here's how you would do it.
Step 1 - Prep Your Child
- Begin with completely DRY hair.
- Place a towel around your child’s shoulders; this will be a messy process.
Step 2 - Mix Olive Oil with Essential Oils
- Typical olive oil measurements: Crew cut hair- 2 oz, Shoulder length hair- 4 oz, Mid back hair 8 oz
- Using essential oils like tea tree will increase the chances of successfully killing head lice. Mix 40 drops of tea tree oil with 4 oz of olive oil.
- Other essential oils that have some effect on head lice are lavender, ylang-ylang, and anise.
Step 3 - Rub into the Scalp
Section your child’s hair and rub olive oil directly onto your child’s scalp. Focus most of your attention on the scalp and roots of the hair, because this is where lice usually reside.
Step 4 - Comb through the Hair
After you apply olive oil to the scalp, comb the oil through the rest of the hair. Apply the remaining olive oil to the rest of the hair until it is saturated in oil.
Step 5 - Wait
Leave olive oil on for at least 8 hours. Most people do this treatment overnight.
Step 6 - Cover the Head...or Don’t
- If you have a safe shower cap or another hat for your child, then feel free to put it on her.
- DO NOT put plastic on your child’s head and send her to bed. This is dangerous.
Step 7 - Don’t Rinse
I suggest leaving the oil in the hair while you pick out every lice bug while they're frozen in place. Any lice bugs that you leave in the hair will come back to life after you rinse the hair.
Repeat Treatments - The Three Week Plan
I can't in good conscience recommend olive oil as a treatment for lice because I know that it doesn't actually kill lice. But, if your plan is to just freeze lice and then remove them from the head then you can use olive oil to do that.
Obviously this is not the regime I use, because I get rid of lice in one day, but it is possible to get rid of lice without my technique, but prepare for it taking you a VERY LONG TIME. But, many people struggle with lice for weeks, months, or years, trying one lice treatment and home remedy after another and I don’t want that to be your story, so let me get you on the right track...
If you're going to get rid of lice using a home remedy, then plan on being extremely disciplined and focused on retreating, combing, and nit-picking for at least 3 weeks.
Even the best home remedies and lice treatments do not kill all lice. They only kill the weakest lice, leaving the strongest lice live on, breed with one another, and create even stronger lice! (Gross I know). Also, although many lice eggs hatch in 1-2 weeks, different studies have shown that lice eggs can hatch anywhere between 4 days and 21 days, depending on the temperature and other factors. So, you'll need to keep retreating every 5 days to ensure that you kill lice bugs as they hatch, before they can start laying eggs of their own.
To give yourself the best chances of getting rid of lice you need to be obsessive for 3 weeks.
Here's what you'd do:
Today: Treat with a home remedy that kills some of the lice like the ones in this article (Olive Oil is NOT one of them!). Comb with a lice comb or nit-pick, and try to remove as many lice eggs as possible. Do house cleaning that I recommend in the House Cleaning - Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Lice in Your House.
Day 5: Retreat with a home remedy or treatment that kills most lice and comb with a lice comb or nit-pick and try to remove as many lice eggs as possible. Do house cleaning that I recommend in the House Cleaning - Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Lice in Your House.
Day 10: Retreat with a home remedy or treatment that kills most lice and comb with a lice comb or nit-pick and try to remove as many lice eggs as possible. Do house cleaning that I recommend in the House Cleaning - Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Lice in Your House.
Day 15: Retreat with a home remedy or treatment that kills most lice and comb with a lice comb or nit-pick and try to remove as many lice eggs as possible. Do house cleaning that I recommend in the House Cleaning - Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Lice in Your House.
Day 20: Retreat with a home remedy or treatment that kills most lice and comb with a lice comb or nit-pick and try to remove as many lice eggs as possible. Do house cleaning that I recommend in the House Cleaning - Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Lice in Your House.
These are the biggest reasons why I'm not a fan of doing a treatment that requires re-treatments and why I encourage people to get rid of lice in one day in Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro.
Reason #1- You’ll have lice for AT LEAST 3 weeks. I’m not a fan of any idea of living with lice for weeks on end, and that’s what you’ll be doing. Lice eggs will be hatching on your child’s head every day, which means she will have head lice crawling on her head until you do another treatment.
Reason #2- Eggs hatch at variable times. Eggs will not hatch all at once. Most lice eggs hatch in about 7-10 days, not 7-10 days after your treatment. But, some lice eggs take longer to hatch. But, some studies shows lice eggs hatching 15 days later or 21 days later. So, you’ll need to do these treatments for AT LEAST 3 weeks to ensure they’re effective.
Reason #3- Lice eggs are your first sign of lice. Early in an infestation, you don’t usually see lice bugs; you see lice eggs. If you do not remove lice eggs from previous outbreaks you won’t figure out your child has lice until she’s had it for a very long time because you’ll assume the eggs in the hair are “old eggs.”
Reason #4- Having lice for weeks can spread it. The longer your child has lice, the more likely she is to spread it to others in the home. Let’s say a few lice hatch the day after the treatment. What’s to keep lice from spreading to her siblings and friends?
If you choose the “repeat treatments” method, your child will have lice for several weeks, because every day new baby lice will hatch from the eggs left in the hair.
If you want to get rid of lice fast, skip the re-treatments, and move on with your life then learn how to do the professional technique I teach on the Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro page.
Summing It Up…
Head lice today are extremely difficult to kill because of the new super lice mutation, which has many parents turning to home remedies to smother lice.
Olive oil is not an effective treatment as it does not kill head lice even after being left on the head for 8 hours. Head lice usually lice “play dead” when covered in olive oil, but “resurrect from the dead” after being rinsed.
If you plan to use a home remedy for lice then I DO NOT recommend you use Olive 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
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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 MyLiceAdvice.com, 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.
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