Does Alcohol Kill Lice?

Is alcohol a good alternative to lice treatment? Does rubbing alcohol kill lice?

Question:

I've tried EVERYTHING to get rid of lice, but it keeps coming back! How about alcohol, does that kill lice?

Answer from a lice expert:

If you have tried other treatments that have failed, 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. Something lice rubbing alcohol is one that I see some people turn to in desperation, but before going down the alcohol route there are a few things you should know. 

 

So, let's talk about exactly what something like rubbing alcohol can do and cannot do when it comes to helping with head lice in this article. 

rubbing alcohol

Let me introduce myself...

lice expert

Hi there! I'm Theresa, I'm a lice expert, lice coach, and Registered Nurse. I help people with lice every day! You can get rid of lice in ONE DAY at home by using the same proven professional technique that I use in my lice center.

Just follow the step-by-step videos and be done with lice by the end of the day.

Alcohol for Lice

alcohol beverages

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….

problem #1

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. 

problem #2

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:

  1. Lice Bugs
  2. Lice Eggs
  3. 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.

Copy of the solution long arrow (1)

Is Alcohol A Good Lice Treatment?

yes or no 500 x 333 (1)

NO MYTHS HERE- ONLY THE FACTS.

There are loads of random people claiming different home remedies "cure" lice circulating the internet. 

The purpose of My Lice Advice is to give you the undiluted facts about home remedies and other lice treatmentsso that you can make good decisions and get rid of lice as fast as possible. 

This article focuses on the facts about alcohol and head lice. 

Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Lice?

no

QUICK FACT

Rubbing alcohol only kills 10% of lice (that's bad)

Rubbing alcohol is isopropyl alcohol. It’s commonly used for cleaning out scrapes and other wounds.

Isopropyl alcohol is in aftershave, lotions, and cosmetics.

Scientists studied the effectiveness of Isopropyl alcohol against head lice. In the study, participants saturated their hair with isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) for a full 8 hours. After 8 hours of being soaked in alcohol, they examined the lice.

Rubbing alcohol only kills 10% of head lice, actually performing as one of the very worst home remedies.

What Kills Lice?

bottle of rubbing alcohol and picture of lice expert with words yes and no

Do Beer, Wine, or Vodka Kill Lice?

no

QUICK FACT

Beer, wine, and vodka do not kill lice.

The only ingestible alcohol is ethanol alcohol. All alcoholic beverages contain ethanol in them in varying degrees.

Scientists tested ethanol’s effectiveness against lice. Using a 100% ethanol solution can kill lice, but anything less than that is not promising. The study testing 70% ethanol alcohol showed 

“A low proportion of lice were affected...in the 10-min exposure test, but recovered completely after 5 min

Different proportions of lice were affected between 2 and 7 hours after immersion in ethanol... However, a high proportion of lice recovered.

Beer is 4.5% ethanol, and wine is 11% ethanol, and Vodka is 40% ethanol, none of which has shown to be effective at killing head lice.

Can Lice Get Drunk?

no

QUICK FACT

Lice may "play dead" when submerged in alcohol, but come back to life.

What alcohol can do is make lice immobile and go into a “coma-type” state for a while. 

When you submerge lice in liquid, they automatically close up their “breathing holes” so that nothing can penetrate them.

Lice submerged for long periods go into a “hibernation- state” to conserve energy. One study terms this as “playing dead.” 

When people use alcohol on the head for prolonged periods, they see lice in hibernation-mode and assume that lice are dead.

The studies show that lice usually remain in this hibernation state after removed from the liquid.

But lice “resurrect” back to life within a few hours of being rinsed. 

Lice are soon at full strength and capable of breeding just as they did before the treatment.

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

Does Hand Sanitizer Kill Lice?

no

QUICK FACT

Hand sanitizer does not lice. Lice "play dead" briefly, then come back to life.

Ethanol alcohol is a common ingredient in hand sanitizer (the same as liquor). Most hand sanitizer is about 65% ethanol alcohol, much higher than an alcoholic beverage.  

Hand sanitizer is more likely to kill head lice than rubbing alcohol or liquor, but even in the study of lice immersed in 70% ethanol, alcohol lice recovered after a few hours.

Which Kills Lice?

Does the Alcohol in Mouthwash Kill Lice?

no

Most mouthwashes contain menthol (mint) or methyl salicylate (wintergreen), and alcohol.

Mint and wintergreen deter lice but don’t kill lice, so the only thing left to kill lice in mouthwash is alcohol.

Most mouthwashes have somewhere between 15-25% alcohol in them. Listerine contains about 26.9% ethanol alcohol

So, the same studies cited for alcoholic beverages apply to Listerine...

In the study immersing lice in 70% ethanol alcohol they see the same thing...

“A low proportion of lice were affected...in the 10-min exposure test, but recovered completely after 5 min

Different proportions of lice were affected between 2 and 7 hours after immersion in ethanol... However, a high proportion of lice recovered after 22 hours.”

So, some lice may be “affected” by Listerine going into their “hibernation-mode” and appearing dead, but they will recover in a few hours.

Which Kills Lice?

mouth wash vs lice expert. Arrow pointing to the lice expert saying "yes"

Does Any Type of Alcohol Kill Lice?

QUICK FACT

The one type of "prescription" alcohol for lice was discontinued. It cost $500, it didn't kill lice eggs and you had to re-treat (another $500).

First, you should know that there are hundreds of different types of alcohol. The 3 most common are:

Benzyl Alcohol

Isopropyl Alcohol

Ethanol Alcohol

These types of alcohol are entirely different from each other.

Benzyl alcohol is the only type of alcohol that kills lice bugs (but not lice eggs) and only if used in a precise way and precise formula.

The only benzyl alcohol lice treatment in the US is a prescription treatment Ulesfia™. You can only get this through your doctor.

There used to be a prescription of a type of Benzyl alcohol called Ulesfia™ that was used as a lice treatment, but it has been discontinued.

One bottle of Ulesfia™ would cost upwards of $500 (and by the way you have to treat twice, so that's $1,000 per treatment). The prescription, Ulesfia did kill most lice bugs but it didn't kill lice eggs, so of course, you'd have to treat again, which was another $500. 

Who'd pay $1000 for something like that? When they could have just done my step-by-step video system instead and saved $1000, been done with lice in one day, and not need to retreat a bunch?

Does Alcohol Kill Lice Eggs and Nits?

Severe head lice infestation commons, no rights reserved

Alcohol in all of it’s forms has little to no effect on killing lice eggs or preventing them from hatching. In the study of rubbing alcohol, lice eggs were exposed to isopropyl alcohol for 10 days straight.

ALCOHOL HAD ALMOST NO EFFECT ON LICE EGGS!!

Even the prescription form of benzyl alcohol lotion (Ulesfia™ ) does not kill lice eggs or prevent them from hatching. (That's the one that was discontinued and was gonna cost you $1,000) That’s why Ulesfia™ requires multiple ($500 for each treatment and NOT WORTH THE MONEY). That's likely why it's been discontinued.

Lice eggs have a thick, waxy coating that protects them from just about everything. It is next to impossible to kill them with any chemical.

Does Combing with Rubbing Alcohol Kill Lice?

Checking with comb

Those with limited lice knowledge may advise you to dip your lice comb in rubbing alcohol and comb through the hair.

This DOES NOT KILL LICE!

Combing through the hair with a good lice comb and rinsing lice down the drain will kill lice. But that has NOTHING to do with rubbing alcohol.

Alcohol & The Never-Ending Cycle

Most people that use lice kits and home remedies get caught in the horrible "Never-Ending Cycle of Lice"

Three arrows pointing down

First- You Have Lice

lice eggs, baby lice, and adult lice with arrows labeling them

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.
But...

lice eggs (nits) and baby lice bugs

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 what they don't realize is they've missed the lice eggs and the baby bug. 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!

baby lice bugs

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 before you know it you are infested with more baby bugs then you may have started with!

And Lice Is Back Again!

full lice infestation representation with lice eggs, baby lice bugs, and adult lice bugs

How to Avoid the Never-Ending Cycle

If you want to avoid this never-ending cycle and get rid of lice fast then check out my Step-by-Step Video System. Follow along with the videos and you can be completely done with lice in ONE DAY, no retreatments necessary.

Do You Want To Get Rid of Lice?

bottle of rubbing alcohol and picture of lice expert with words yes and no

Is Using Alcohol for Lice Safe?

no

Parents who have been struggling with lice for months are desperate to try anything that has the chance of working. But is using something like rubbing alcohol for lice even safe? No, it's not.

If you decide to go ahead and put mouthwash, hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, or whatever type of alcohol on your child’s head, you should know there are some serious risks. 

Eye Injuries/Blindness

red eye

Putting a liquid form of alcohol on your child is very likely to end up in their eyes. Have you ever gotten hand sanitizer in your eye? Ouch!!

In addition to being very painful, getting ethanol in your eye is very dangerous.

study of ethanol’s effects if it gets in the eyes reports it, 

“can cause corneal abrasions and scarring... thereby cause loss of vision and increase the risk for ocular [eye] infections.”

Considering ethanol doesn’t even kill lice, I am not going to take the risk of blindness for my child!

Alcohol Poisoning

ambulance

Isopropyl alcohol is toxic to humans and is very absorbent through the skin. The body can usually fight off and excrete small doses of rubbing alcohol, but in large doses, it can lead to poisoning.

Your scalp is one of the most absorbent areas of the body. Saturating the scalp with isopropyl alcohol puts your child at risk of poisoning, which can lead to dizziness, vomiting, liver damage, and coma.

Children are at exceptionally high risk because their scalp is even more absorbent than adults.

Chemical Burn

skin burn

Rubbing alcohol has been reported to cause severe chemical burns on the very young. 

study reporting burns on a baby related to isopropyl alcohol states, 

“toxic for infants and children” should appear on mass consumption products containing isopropyl alcohol. Moreover, health workers may individually inform parents about the possible hazards of poisoning through skin absorption.”

Catching on Fire!

on fire

Isopropyl alcohol and ethanol alcohol are extremely flammable. If your child has alcohol on their body and exposure to any spark, they will go up in flames. 

As evidenced in a news story involving an 11-year-old boy and rubbing alcohol, it can be tragic.

“An 11-year-old North Georgia boy is recovering after an accident sent him to the hospital with severe burns on 30 percent of his body…

“No one thinks that the rubbing alcohol in your medicine cabinet could possibly take the life of your child,” Clint Eller told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday.”

“Ray is now in the burn intensive care unit at Grady Memorial Hospital.”

Summing it Up…

bottle of rubbing alcohol and picture of lice expert with words yes and no

Rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, mouthwash, and alcoholic beverages will not kill head lice. They can do a lot more harm than good. 

There is no home remedy or treatment out there that kills all lice bugs or lice eggs. If you want to get rid of lice for good, then follow along with the My Lice Advice Step-by-Step Video System and get rid of lice by the end of the day!

All the best,

contact me pic epic (2)

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.

Get the Lice Checklist (It's FREE!)

lice cleaning checklist

Get the Lice Checklist (It's FREE!)