Vaseline for Lice: Does it Work?

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If you’ve tried other lice treatments with no success, it may tempt you to try Vaseline. Does Vaseline kill head lice?

If you have lice, then you know how difficult it is to get rid of it. Most people researching home remedies like Vaseline have already tried several rounds of over the counter treatments with no success. You’re doing everything you can, but these little buggers keep coming back! Many parents are in the same boat you are...

You are not alone, and it’s not your fault!

The new strain of head lice, called “super lice,” is challenging to get rid of. After using multiple rounds of over the counter treatments with no success, many parents are turning to home remedies like Vaseline.

This article answers the following:

Does Vaseline Kill Lice?
Should I Use Vaseline For Lice?
How to Get Vaseline OUT of Hair
Does Vaseline Kill Lice Eggs?

Super Lice

A super lice bug at high magnification.

The newest strain of head lice is immune to almost all over-the-counter and prescription treatments. These lice are called “super lice.” Super lice and regular lice are precisely the same, except it, super lice, are very difficult to kill. 

Over the last 30 years, weak lice have been killed by pesticides, leaving behind only these very strong super lice. Super lice have a genetic mutation that is unphased by pesticides, so over the counter treatments don’t kill these lice nor their lice eggs no matter how long you leave them on.

A recent study shows that about 98% of lice today have this super lice mutation.

If you’ve tried treatments and still have lice, assume you’re dealing with super lice.

Does Vaseline Kill Lice?

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After trying rounds of over the counter treatments, most parents are desperate to find a home remedy that works. What about Vaseline?

Researchers tested Vaseline (a brand of Petroleum Jelly) alongside 5 other home remedies for effectiveness against head lice, here’s how it did.

In the study, Petroleum Jelly killed about 62% of head lice. It outperformed many other home remedies such as mayonnaise, olive oil, butter, and vinegar. It also beat the most popular over the counter treatments. But still, 62% isn’t an impressive number, especially with all of the downsides of Vaseline. 

There Are Better Treatment Options than Vaseline

Compare Vaseline’s performance against other smother techniques:

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The Best “Smother Treatment” is Dimethicone

Dimethicone is not a home remedy, it’s not a prescription, and you usually can’t find it 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 in killing lice. In studies, it has an average kill rate of 98% for lice bugs with one treatment.

For years, the only places you could get dimethicone 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:

 (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)

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. Ladibugs 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 most straightforward treatment to use. It kills all lice within 20 minutes. You’ll need to retreat in about 10 days.

Coconut Oil is the Best Smother Home Remedy

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If you’re dead set on using a home remedy to smother lice, then coconut oil is the best choice. 

Coconut oil is one of the most effective home remedies. Two studies show coconut oil killing about 80% of head lice after being left on the head for extended periods. I recommend leaving it on the head for at least 8 hours. 

Unfortunately, coconut oil, like most other home remedies and lice treatments, has little to no effect on lice eggs. Coconut oil doesn’t kill lice eggs or prevent them from hatching.

Removing lice eggs from the head or repeated treatments over 3 weeks are necessary for coconut oil to get rid of head lice effectively. 

Read the full article and tutorial Coconut Oil For Head Lice Tutorial for more information.

Should You Use Vaseline as a Lice Treatment?

Before slathering your child’s head in Vaseline, consider the disadvantages:

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#1- Petroleum Jelly is EXTREMELY difficult to get out of hair

Vaseline is not just a little sticky. Coating the scalp and hair with Vaseline is like taking a handful of chewing gum and rubbing it into the hair. Because Vaseline is thick and not water-soluble, once you put Vaseline in the hair, it is likely to take weeks to remove!

How to Get Vaseline Out of Hair

If you’ve already made the mistake of putting Vaseline in your child’s hair, I am sad for you. Here are the best things I have found to help get it out.

  1. Wash hair with Dawn dish soap multiple times, rinsing between each round.
  2. Wash hair with baby shampoo multiple times, rinsing between each round.
  3. Slather hair in baby oil and comb through it with a metal lice comb.

#2- Vaseline treatments can be dangerous and lead to suffocation

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Vaseline lice treatments require you to slather the hair in Vaseline, place a plastic cap on it, and then have your child sleep in it. This is actually incredibly dangerous and can lead to death. Here’s a small part of a news story about a tragedy caused by a lice home remedy gone wrong:

“Massachusetts police are investigating the death of an 18-month old child who suffocated, apparently because of a 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.”

#3- Vaseline treatments waste your time and energy

Vaseline doesn’t work. Coating the hair in Vaseline and then painstakingly trying to remove it is a total waste of your time and energy. It’s better to spend your time, energy, and money on using a treatment that works!

Does Vaseline Kill Lice Eggs

There is evidence that Vaseline can prevent many lice eggs from hatching if Vaseline is left on the head for 10 days straight.

VASELINE ON THE HEAD FOR 10 DAYS!!!

That’s insane, who is going to do that? Although, maybe it’ll take you that long to wash all of the Vaseline out of your child’s hair anyway.

A Better Way for Lice Eggs

The only method that is 100% effective at killing lice eggs is removing them from the head. Lice have grown immune to all treatments and home remedies and have a thick waxy coating that makes them almost impossible to kill. But, if you remove them from the head and throw them in the trash, then there is no way for them to hatch and infest your child.

The fastest, easiest, and most effective way to remove lice eggs from the hair is with a professional-level head lice comb. 

The very best lice comb out there is the Nit-Free Terminator Comb.

This is the comb that I use in my professional lice center every day.

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.

Vaseline Lice Treatment

If you’re still dead set on doing a Vaseline lice treatment, here are the steps, although I do not recommend it because it’s dangerous, and you will spend hours trying to get it out of the hair. And, it doesn’t get rid of lice.

  1. Slather your child’s scalp and hair thoroughly with Vaseline. Be sure to cover the scalp.
  2. Cover the head with something plastic such as saran wrap. (Again, plastic on a child’s head is hazardous!)
  3. Leave Vaseline in the hair for at least 8 hours (or 10 days if you want it to kill lice eggs).
  4. Wash Vaseline out of the hair (good luck, my friend!). Try baby shampoo or dawn dish soap. 
  5. Repeat the treatment every 5 days for 2-3 weeks.

OR use a home remedy or lice treatment that works and get rid of head lice.

Summing It Up…

Vaseline lice treatments do more harm than good, which is why I do NOT recommend them. Petroleum Jelly is not as effective against lice as other treatments, and it is EXTREMELY difficult to get Vaseline out of hair. 

If you want to use a home remedy treatment, then check out my Coconut Oil for Head Lice Tutorial. Coconut oil kills about 80% of lice, whereas Petroleum Jelly only kills 62%. If you want to get rid of lice sooner, get a dimethicone treatment like Ladibugs or Lice Clinics, which kills 98% of lice with one treatment.

Best of luck on your lice journey! (1)

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