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

tea tree oil title photo

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.

If you're struggling with lice you are not alone. Did you know that 75% of people that use over the counter-lice-treatments still have lice after multiple treatments?

Many people with lice are stuck in the “never-ending lice cycle” that looks like this…

You discover lice, you spend hours treating, nit-picking, house cleaning etc.

You think it’s gone for a few weeks…

But, then it’s back again!

Sound familiar? This cycle will repeat over and over again until you change what you’re doing. That's why a lot of parents are turning to home remedies. Perhaps that’s why you’re researching Tea Tree Oil.

This article addresses the following:

Does Tea Tree Oil Kill Lice?

Disadvantages of Tea Tree Oil

How to Kill Lice With Tea Tree Oil (Tutorial)

Does Tea Tree Oil Shampoo Kill Lice?

Does Tea Tree Oil Prevent Head Lice?

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WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW SO YOU CAN BE SUCCESSFUL...

THERE ARE 5 THINGS YOU MUST KNOW IF YOU WANT TO GET RID OF LICE WITH A HOME REMEDY!

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)

 

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 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 Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro.

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.

If you’ve tried treatments and still have lice, you’re not alone. Most lice today are unphased by pesticide treatments.

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.

Before talking about whether or not Tea Tree Oil kills lice, you should ask yourself a critical question...

Do you want to KILL LICE or GET RID OF LICE???

Because there’s a big difference! Killing lice today, does NOT get rid of lice. If you focus all of your energy on killing lice bugs, you will NEVER get rid of lice! 

Here’s why...

When you have lice you have 2 problems, lice bugs, and lice eggs. Often people focus all of their attention on lice bugs, but neglect the much bigger problem- LICE EGGS! Those eggs are full of little lice bugs, just waiting to hatch and start this whole lice cycle all over again! That’s why you keep getting lice back!

There’s no lice treatment or home remedy out there that kills lice eggs, except the technique that lice professionals use, which is what I teach in Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro.

That's the only thing that can get rid of lice in one day, without any re-treatments, because it kills all of the lice bugs and lice eggs at the same time in one session. If you plan on using a home remedy and store-bought lice treatment you can get rid of lice, but you should plan on it taking about 3 weeks and multiple treatments because those lice eggs will keep hatching and re-infest your child over and over again.

So remember... killing lice and getting rid of lice are not the same thing. If you want to get rid of lice you need to tackle both lice bugs and lice eggs.

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.

Tea Tree Oil for Lice

tea tree leaves

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?

lice half

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.

Disadvantages of Tea Tree Oil

Severe head lice infestation commons, no rights reserved

#1- Tea Tree Oil Does Not Kill Lice Eggs

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 Lice Egg Cycle: Lice hatch from eggs, lice grow and lay more eggs, you treat your hair, some lice eggs are missed, and then the cycle starts over and lice hatch from eggs again.

You kill all the lice. You think you’ve gotten rid of everything, but you leave a few lice eggs in the hair. Those lice eggs hatch within a few days, and, shortly, those lice begin laying eggs. Within a few weeks, you have a full infestation all over again. You go around and around in this circle of “getting lice back” from yourself.

I teach the fastest, easiest, and most effective way to get rid of lice eggs in Get Rid of Lice Like a Pro!

#2- Resistance

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.

#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.

#4- Toxic if Swallowed

ambulance

Tea tree is safe to use on the skin, but be careful that your little ones don’t ingest it. Tea tree oil is toxic if swallowed.

#5- The Quality of Essential Oil Matters

Not all essential oils are equal. In one study, multiple brands of tea tree oil were tested against lice and had differing levels of success.

So, be sure that the essential oil you are using is high quality and has undergone rigorous testing.

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)

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. So it does not GET RID OF LICE.

I teach you how to tackle all 3 of those problems at once in Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro.

But, if you want to take the long route then here's how you'd use Tea Tree Oil.

oil on spoon

Before You Begin- Choose a Carrier Oil

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.

What Are Carrier Oils?

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 it 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 featured

Coconut Oil Kills 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.

Test A Small Area First

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.

Step 1- Prep Your Child

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  • 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

  • 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 that 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.

Clean Your House

dryer

Don’t go insane with the house cleaning; this is the easiest step.

Clean your house using the following principles as a guide (or check out the article Lice Cleaning Checklist to Get Rid of Lice in Your Home):

And then...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)

3 Week Plan To Get Rid of Lice

Obviously this is not the regime I use, because I know how to get rid of lice in one day without retreatments, you can learn more about that here.

But, if you decide that coconut oil is the route you want to go then be prepared for it taking you a VERY LONG TIME. Most people struggle with lice for weeks, months, or years, trying one lice treatment and home remedy after another.

I don't want this to be your story, so let me get you on the right track. If you're going to get rid of lice on your own without the video series, then plan on being extremely disciplined and focused on lice for 3 weeks.

Even the best home remedies and lice treatments do not kill all lice (including coconut oil). They only kill the weakest lice, leaving the strongest lice live on, breed with one another, and create even stronger lice! (Gross I know).

And, no home remedies or treatments kill lice eggs, so those lice eggs will hatch and re-infest your child if you don’t get on top of this. 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 (Tea Tree Oil is 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 article.

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 article.

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 article.

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 article.

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 article.

Or you can learn how to get rid of lice the same way that professionals do, be done in one day and move on with your life.

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 lice repellents.
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.

19 Essential Oils Repel Lice. 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.

Tea Tree Oil for Lice Prevention Spray Tutorial

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)

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 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 and Tea Tree oil is not 100% effective at killing lice. Most lice eggs hatch in about 7-10 days, not 7-10 days after your tea tree treatment. But, some lice eggs take longer to hatch. 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…

tea tree and coconut oil

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. It does not CURE lice.

Tea tree oil can be irritating to the scalp, so diluting it in a carrier oil is important, especially on children.

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. On the other hand, if you want to get rid of lice quickly, then you should check out the How to Get Rid of Lice Like a Pro! article and get rid of lice today.

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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