Shaving and Cutting Hair For Head Lice

shave head featured image

Discover if shaving or cutting your child’s hair can effectively get rid of head lice. 

If you have head lice, you want to get rid of it fast! 

You may have already tried several rounds of over the counter treatments that have failed. Or, you’re in a panic and ready to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to get lice out of your home as fast as possible. 

You may have heard that head lice today have grown immune to all of the old lice treatments that worked in the past, so millions of parents around the world are turning to other alternatives and home remedies. 

What about shaving or cutting your child’s hair? Will that get rid of head lice?

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

Does Shaving Your Head Get Rid of Lice?

Are There Better Treatments than Shaving Your Hair?

Does Cutting Hair Help with Lice?

Will Barbers, Hairdressers, or Salons Cut Hair with Lice?

Super Lice

Up close image of a super lice bug. Lice have six legs attached to their abdomen. The lice appears golden brown/translucent in color. Its dark stomach can be seen through its shell. The lice is attached to a blonde hairstrand.

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.

So, it’s understandable that you’re at your wit’s end and ready to shave your child’s head. 

But, will it get rid of lice?

Does Shaving Your Head or Cutting Your Hair Get Rid of Lice?

shave head

Shaving or cutting your hair might get rid of head lice, or it might not! It really depends on how short you cut it. Here’s what you should know:

  1. Head lice can live in very short hair
  2. Lice glue their eggs very close to the scalp
  3. There are better treatments than shaving your head
  4. Your child may be traumatized
  5. You must shave your head as well

#1- Head Lice Can Live in Very Short Hair

Lice Claws

Lice move deftly through any amount of hair. They have little claws on each of their six legs that are perfectly designed to grip hair, enabling them to transfer from one hair to another quickly and without a chance of falling off. It only requires a tiny strand of hair for lice to grab on with their little claws.

shaving head

If you are planning on shaving someone completely bald with a razor with no hair whatsoever, then yes, that can get rid of head lice, but any small amount of hair you run the risk of lice.

If you don’t shave all of the hair off your child’s head, you’re likely to be in a similar situation as the mother in this UK news story

“It was the first time that I had to deal with head lice; it made me upset as I didn’t know how to get rid of them...So I grabbed the hair cutters…”

“After I had cut his hair, I could still see the lice literally crawling on his head.” 

“It made me feel so sick. I had no idea that cutting his hair wouldn’t make any difference or help to remove the lice.”

#2- Better Treatments Than Shaving Your Head

frustrated mom

(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.)
I understand that you may be frustrated with head lice. And that you’ve already tried a bunch of over the counter treatments that haven’t worked.

The truth is that most over the counter treatments don’t kill lice! It’s a scientific fact.

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.

But, before you shave off any hair, you should know that there are treatments and home remedies that do work. Here they are...

Dimethicone Treatments

cover hair (1)

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 when it comes to killing lice. In studies, dimethicone killed 100% of lice bugs with one treatment for most of the people tested.

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

For years, the only places you could get dimethicone products 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 ten days.

Coconut Oil

coconut featured

If you’re set on using a home remedy, 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. Combined with essential oils, though, it’s success rates increased. Essential oils that may increase coconut oil successes 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, so make sure you get a good lice comb.

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

Tea Tree Oil

essential oils coconut

Tea tree shampoo at your local salon will not kill head lice. Tea tree must be used in high concentrations to kill lice, and the concentrations in tea tree shampoo are not adequate.

However, in one study, highly concentrated tea tree and lavender essential oils were compared to traditional pesticide treatments. Tea tree oil killed most lice, whereas the pesticide treatments only killed about 25% of lice.

Applying tea tree oil directly to the scalp may cause reactions, so you should dilute tea tree with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, argan oil, etc. As mentioned above, I recommend coconut oil because coconut oil kills lice, whereas olive oil does not (read the article here). 

The major disadvantage of tea tree oil is that it has little to no effect on lice eggs. Lice eggs WILL hatch after a tea tree treatment unless you manually remove them from the head. So get a good lice comb.

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.

#3- Lice Glue their Eggs VERY close to the scalp

New Eggs

Lice glue their eggs right next to the scalp because they need the heat of the head to hatch. Many people only see the “white” lice eggs down the hair strand, but it is the lice eggs next to the scalp (usually darker in color) that are the ones that will hatch and keep you in this never-ending cycle of lice.

The Trouble With Lice Eggs

Again, to cut off those lice eggs, you’ll need to shave onto the scalp. Lice usually lay their eggs within ¼ inch (6mm) from the scalp, (some are even closer to the scalp).

The very best way to kill lice eggs is to remove them from the head.

The fastest and most effective way to get rid of lice eggs is with a professional-level head lice comb like the Nit Free Terminator

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 very best lice comb out there is the Nit-Free Terminator Comb, and you can’t find it at the drugstore.

The terminator is the comb I use every day in my lice center. If you ask any lice professional, they will almost certainly tell you this is the comb they use. 

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. 

#3- Shaving Your Child’s Head May Be Traumatic

sad girl clown wig

In many cultures shaving a child’s head is humiliating and traumatic (especially for girls). It’s like wearing a sign that reads, “I have head lice. Every mean kid, please make fun of me.”

I’m not saying it’s right, kids should not bully those with lice, but the truth is that your daughter will probably be traumatized if you shave her head.

black boy shaved head

But, in some cultures, shaving boys and girl’s heads are common. If you are part of a culture where having a shaved head is common and it won’t be traumatic, then go for it!

Just be sure that it is completely bald, with NO HAIR at all.

#4- Are You Planning To Shave Your Head Too?

adult woman bald

A high percentage of parents get head lice from their children, especially mothers. Are you planning on shaving your head as well? If you shave your child’s head, where do you think those lice are going to go? Also, if you have lice, won’t you just give lice back to your child once their hair grows back?

A better plan is to use a dimethicone treatment on you and your child. Don’t shave your head!

Does Cutting Your Hair Help with Lice?

cutting long hair

Cutting hair will NOT get rid of lice unless you shave it completely bald to the scalp. But, cutting your child’s hair can make it easier to treat and remove lice eggs. Very long, thick hair usually requires more product and more time than short hair.

If you want my advice... If your child likes long hair, then keep it long. Sure, it requires more work to get rid of lice on long hair but put in the extra work. On the flip side, if your child wants their hair cut anyway, then go ahead and cut it and make your task a little bit easier.

Will Hairdressers, Barbers, or Salons Cut Hair with Lice?

hair dresser

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a barber that is willing to cut hair with lice. Most salons have a strict “no-lice” policy. And, if you try to “sneak” your lice past your hairdresser, she’s likely to find lice in your hair and stop mid-cut.

Unless you want to leave the salon with only one half of your hair cut, be sure you’re in the clear with lice before you go to a professional salon.

Summing It Up…

The only way to get rid of head lice by shaving your head is to shave all completely bald to the scalp. Otherwise, you run the risk of lice and lice eggs sticking on the hair. For many cultures shaving a girl’s head is especially humiliating. 

Cutting your child’s hair shorter might make it easier to manage, but it will not get rid of head lice.

If you want to get rid of head lice, a better alternative is to use a dimethicone lice product, and a good lice comb like the Nit Free Terminator comb. Otherwise, you’re likely to go around and around with lice.

My advice… Put down the hair clippers and pick up a dimethicone treatment and a good lice comb.

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