Tea Tree Oil For Lice: How to Kill and Prevent Lice Using Tea Tree Oil

Looking for a natural and effective way to kill head lice? Tea tree oil is one of the best home remedies out there. Discover how to kill and prevent head lice naturally with tea tree oil in this tutorial.

tea tree oil title photo

Question:

I've tried all of the over-the-counter products and the lice keeps coming back! I've heard that tea tree oil kills lice, is it true? How do you use tea tree oil as a lice treatment? 

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 75% of parents that use over-the-counter kits still have lice even after multiple treatments! And that's because of the new strain of lice, called super lice.

 

Using a home remedy like tea tree oil for lice is one option, but there are several things you should be aware of before using it. Let's talk about ways that tea tree oil can help with lice, how to use it, and some other alternatives that work better than tea tree oil.

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.

Tea Tree Oil for Lice

tea tree leaves

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.

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Is It 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.

Super lice are the newest strain of head lice. A recent study shows that about 98% of lice today have the super lice mutation, which makes them incredibly hard to kill.

The difficulty with super lice is that they have a genetic mutation that is unphased by pesticides, so over the counter and prescription treatments don’t kill these lice or their lice eggs no matter the strength or how long you leave them on.

If you've used other treatments and you still have lice then you can assume you're dealing with super lice.

Tea Tree Oil Basics

3 bottles of tea tree oil

Tea tree oil, also known as Melaleuca, is an oil derived from leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree found in Australia. People have used Tea tree oil for centuries for multiple ailments, including as a bug repellant.

Recent studies indicate that tea tree oil can be helpful for both treating and preventing head lice, both of which this article covers.

Does Tea Tree Oil Kill Lice?

single lice bug on a finger

Multiple studies have tested the efficacy of tea tree oil on head lice. A recent study comparing different essential oils found that tea tree oil in high concentrations was very effective at killing lice. 

Another study combining tea tree oil and lavender oil showed a kill rate of 97%, whereas over-the-counter pesticide treatments only killed 25% of lice.

However, similar to the way that lice have grown immune to over-the-counter products, many parents are finding that lice are growing immune to Tea Tree Oil as well.

Why I Don't Recommend Tea Tree Oil for Lice

nope

I'm not a fan of using tea tree oil, because it doesn't kill lice eggs and you end up dealing with lice and retreating for weeks and weeks!

Instead, get rid of lice in one day by following along with my step-by-step videos. No lice products are required and no retreatments. Follow the videos and be done with lice for good!

Here's what you should know before doing tea tree oil as a lice treatment...

#1- Tea Tree Oil Does Not Kill Lice Eggs

severe infestion of lice with multiple lice eggs/nits

Although tea tree oil has shown effectiveness against killing lice, it is not effective at killing lice eggs (also known as nits). So, if you use a tea tree oil treatment, you must remove every nit from the head to prevent them from hatching. 

Those that focus only on killing lice and not on removing nits from the head will find themselves in a never-ending cycle of head lice.

Here’s what that cycle looks like...

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...

arrows pointing to lice eggs left in hair

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!

baby lice bugs with arrows labeling them

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!

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.

#2- Resistance to Tea Tree Oil

lice half

Some lice are likely becoming resistant to tea tree oil, just as they have with over-the-counter treatments. 

For centuries lice have mutated by “survival of the fittest.” The same concept is true for lice becoming immune to tea tree oil. Lice that are genetically unaffected by tea tree oil are more likely to thrive and thus pass on their genetic resistance as tea tree oil gains in popularity.

In one study, multiple brands of tea tree oil were tested against lice and had differing levels of success.

#3- High Doses Can Cause Scalp Irritation

The top of a woman's head with large chunks of dandruff

Tea tree oil in concentrations able to kill head lice may cause skin reactions, especially on young children. The best way to decrease skin reactions is to dilute tea tree in a carrier oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, or almond oil. I’ll talk about this in-depth in the Tutorial Section of this article.

Does Tea Tree Shampoo Kill Lice?

tea tree shampoo

No, tea tree shampoo will not kill head lice. The concentrations in tea tree shampoo are not adequate to kill head lice, and they become even more diluted in wet hair.

Additionally, tea tree oil needs to be on the head for at least 30 minutes to be effective against head lice, and most people only leave the shampoo in for a few minutes when washing their hair.

Tea tree shampoo can be a helpful tool for preventing head lice, but tea tree shampoo alone won’t keep lice away. Read the Tea Tree Oil to Prevent Head Lice section of the article to learn more.

How to Kill Lice With Tea Tree Oil (Tutorial)

tea tree and coconut oil

To be clear here, Tea Tree oil is not the best way to get rid of lice. When you have lice you have 3 problems.

  1. Lice Bugs
  2. Lice Eggs
  3. Getting Lice Back

Tea Tree oil will help you with one of those problems (lice bugs), but it does not kill lice eggs, or getting lice back

If you want to get rid of lice FAST (in one day) then ditch the tea tree oil and check out my Step-by-Step Video System.

But, if you want to take the long route then here's how you'd use tea tree oil:

Step 0- Before You Begin

rash behind neck

Test A Small Area First

You need to treat tea tree oil with respect. Applying tea tree oil directly to the scalp can cause severe reactions. Children are especially susceptible to reactions to essential oils.

The scalp is one of the most absorbent areas of the body. Before slathering your child’s scalp with tea tree oil, test an area of her skin that is less sensitive, such as the arm, to ensure she has no reactions to tea tree oil.

What Are Carrier Oils?

oil on spoon

Diluting essential oils in a carrier oil decreases the likelihood of your child reacting to it. Because essential oils are oil-based, you should dilute them in something oil-based as opposed to water-based. 

Common carrier oils are coconut oil and olive oil. I prefer coconut oil because of its lice-killing properties.

A dilution of 1 ounce of carrier oil to 10 drops of essential oil is a good rule of thumb.

Coconut Oil vs. Olive Oil

Coconut Oil Kills Some Lice

Studies have compared the effectiveness of different home remedies on head lice, including olive oil and coconut oil. Studies show that coconut oil has a significantly higher kill rate for lice and in shorter periods.

Coconut oil on the head for 4 hours had an 80% lice kill rate

Whereas olive oil on the head for 8 hours only had a 2% lice kill rate.

 

Coconut Oil Doesn’t Stain

Unlike other oils that stain clothing and furniture, coconut oil washes out of clothing and other items if washed in warm water. You don’t have to worry about your child staining her clothing or bedding.

Step 1- Prep Your Child

towel shoulders (1)

Begin with completely DRY hair, because when you lice expose lice to water, they close their “breathing holes” which makes them less susceptible to being killed by absorbing tea tree oil.

Place a towel around your child’s shoulders; this is a messy process.

Step 2- Mix Carrier Oil and Tea Tree Oil

coconut sign

Regular coconut oil is solid at room temperature, which makes it a little more challenging to apply.

  • Melt coconut oil in the microwave until it is at least partly liquid (start with 30 seconds and add more time as needed). 
  • The typical amount of coconut oil needed to cover the head is:

¼ cup for a crew cut

½ cup for short hair 

1 cup for long hair. 

Use more or less coconut oil depending on hair length and thickness.

 

  • Add 10 drops of tea tree oil per ounce of carrier oil and mix it.

¼ cup (2 oz) = 20 drops tea tree oil

½ cup (4 oz) = 40 drops tea tree oil

1 cup (8 oz) = 80 drops tea tree oil

Step 3- Focus on the Scalp

section hair

Section your child’s hair and slather tea tree oil mix directly to 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

comb through hair

After you apply the tea tree oil mix to the scalp, comb the oil through the rest of the hair. Apply the remaining oil to the rest of the hair until you have saturated the entire head of hair in the tea tree oil mix.

Step 5- Wait

wait

Tea tree oil has been shown effective after only 30 minutes on the scalp. For increased effectiveness, leave it on longer (4 hours) or overnight.

Step 6- Cover the Head...or Don’t

shower cap on womans head

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. Plastic is dangerous and can kill your child, as it did with the parents in this news story.

You do not need to cover the head at all if you’re using coconut oil. Put your child’s hair in a bun and send her to bed. Coconut oil does not stain the same way other oils stain so you can wash her bedding in warm water the next morning, and all of the oil will come out.

Step 7- Rinse

rinse hair

You can rinse the oil mixture out, or you can leave the oil in the hair while completing the next step.

Step 8- Remove Lice Eggs

As stated before, tea tree does NOT kill the lice eggs/nits. You'll need to get those out of the hair.

This can be a pretty daunting task for most, especially if you're using one of the crappy combs from a lice kit or trying to do a bunch of nit-picking. If that's the route you're taking then I recommend you get a good metal lice comb, like this one here.

Step 9- Clean Your House

dryer

Don’t go insane with the house cleaning; instead, get the house cleaning checklist.

Step 9-  Retreat. Retreat. Retreat.

Egg of the head louse (Pediculus humanus capitis) on a hair. The picture was taken after an anti-lice treatment  (Oxyphthirine - a substance based on Triglycerid producing a kind of film at the surface of the eggs and lice that induce asphyxia).  This egg is therefore dead and its aspect can be slightly different from an alive egg. It seems to be slightly deshydrated.  Scale : egg length= 0.57 mm  Technical settings :  - focus stack of 42 images - microscope objective (Nikon achromatic 10x 160/0.25) on bellow (160 mm extension)

Tea tree oil DOES NOT kill lice eggs!!

Any nits left in the hair WILL hatch and reinfest your child.

In fact, there isn't a home remedy or treatment out there that kills all of the lice eggs. This is why I created my step-by-step video system instead because it kills lice eggs and there are no re-treatments.

But, if you're set on using tea tree oil instead of the step-by-step videos then be sure to re-treat. I recommend retreating every 5 days for 3 weeks because if you don't then you're child will just get lice right back because those lice eggs will keep hatching.

Why use tea tree oil and keep retreating?

nope

I'm not a fan of using tea tree oil, because it doesn't kill lice eggs and you end up dealing with lice and retreating for weeks and weeks!

Instead, get rid of lice in one day by following along with my step-by-step videos. No lice products are required and no retreatments. Follow the videos and be done with lice for good!

Get the Lice Checklist (It's FREE!)

lice cleaning checklist

Get the Lice Checklist (It's FREE!)

Tea Tree Oil For Lice Prevention

tea tree oil title photo

Lice have a keen sense of smell, and they are attracted to human blood. Just like sharks, they can smell when your blood is near, and your head is within reach.

In studies, tea tree oil, along with several other essential oils, acts as a lice repellent.
But, using tea tree oil alone as lice prevention is a mistake. I see hundreds of people in my salon who have been using tea tree shampoo for years, yet still, wind up with head lice.

Tea tree oil alone is better than not using any lice deterring scents, but it is not adequate for preventing lice on its own for most people. You are much better off using a variety of essential oils proven to ward off head lice.

Other Essential Oils For Lice Prevention

Multiple lice repelling essential oil bottles

Here are the most lice-repelling essential oils:

Not all Essential Oils Are Equal

Be careful to use essential oils that are pure and undiluted. Many sell knock-offs and “scented” oils that are not essential oils. To prevent lice, you need legitimate essential oils that are quality tested.

Tried and True Lice Prevention Sprays

There are some very effective lice prevention sprays already on the market. These sprays are a combination of all of the best prevention essential oils. Instead of making one yourself, you can buy one. I review all lice prevention sprays in this article. These are my top picks for prevention sprays:

My Top Three Picks:

These are my top 3 favorite store-bought lice prevention products.

  1. Lice Logic (I prefer Rosemary-Mint)
  2. Head Hunters Lemon Heads (sometimes this one is outta stock, but I like it)
  3. Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel

I have full reviews of lice prevention products in my articles Best Lice Prevention Shampoos and Best Lice Prevention Sprays. If you’re looking to buy an already made and proven lice prevention product, then head to those articles.

For those that are interested in making your own lice repellents, keep reading.

Tea Tree Oil for Lice Prevention Spray Tutorial

mother spraying DIY Lice Prevention spray in daughters hair

You can add tea tree to your shampoo or conditioner, but better lice prevention comes from having the scent of tea tree in the hair. This is best done by spraying the scent in the hair and NOT washing it out.

Ingredients:

8 oz spray bottle

6 oz of distilled or purified water 

2 Tablespoons of carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil or olive oil

20 drops of Tea Tree Oil (or use a blend in this article for better protection)

Directions: 

  1. Combine ingredients in an 8 oz spray bottle. 
  2. Shake vigorously. 
  3. Spray every day in hair for lice prevention, shaking vigorously before each use.
  4. Replace every 1-2 months (this is for bacterial reasons)

Summing It Up…

Tea Tree oil has been shown effective at both killing and preventing head lice. But, tea tree does not kill lice eggs or prevent them from hatching, so you just end up getting lice right back. It does not CURE lice.

If you plan to use a home remedy for lice then Tea Tree oil is one of the better ones. But, even if you’re using a decent home remedy like Tea Tree oil, it’s only going to kill a percentage of the lice bugs, and it won’t kill any of the lice eggs. So, you should anticipate retreating every 5 days for several weeks.

That's why I'm not a fan of using a home remedy like that. Instead, if you want to get rid of lice quickly, then follow along with my step-by-step videos and get rid of lice today.

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.

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lice cleaning checklist

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