What You Need to Know When Using Essential Oils to Treat Lice

Lice cases have increased over the last few years, and a lot of that is because lice are more resistant to chemical treatments—in many cases, these methods don't work as well as they used to or they don't offer any additional benefits compared to natural solutions.

Essential oils are a popular natural way to deal with lice. If you are leaning in that direction, here are some tips and ideas that you should know about.

Natural Treatments Work as Well as Chemical Treatments

One study of children in Israel indicates that there is no difference in the efficacy of natural and chemical treatments. In the study, one group of children received three treatments containing a mixture of coconut oil, anise oil, and ylang ylang oil. The treatments were applied for ten minutes every five days.

The other group of children received two chemical lice treatments consisting of permethrin, malathion, piperonyl butoxide, isododecane, and propellant gas. That was applied for ten minutes, and the two applications were ten days apart. Ultimately, both treatments were successful on 92 percent of the children. This study included both children with lice and just with nits.

If you are concerned that a natural treatment might not work as well as chemicals, this study should reassure you that the results are often the same.

You May Need to Play With Ratios and Dilution

However, the type of essential oil you use and how it's diluted or mixed with other oils can also have a direct impact on how well the oils work. In one study in Italy, eggs and lice were taken from the heads of school children, and the lice and eggs were treated in a laboratory.

Scientists started with tea tree oil, and they found that it killed 100 percent of the lice in a solution with only 1 percent concentration. That just means the tea tree oil was in water at rate of 1 part oil to 99 parts water.

The scientists also discovered that while tea tree oil was not that effective against eggs, an essential oil called nerolidol was extremely effective at killing eggs — at 1 percent dilution, this oil caused half of the eggs not to hatch. To create the best results, these researchers ultimately used a mixture of tea tree oil and nerolidol at a rate of 0.5 percent tea tree oil and 1 percent nerolidol. You may have to play with different approaches until you find the right mix for your family.

A Quality Nit Comb Is Essential

If you decide to work with essential oils, the treatment will be more effective if the solution covers all of the hair. A nit comb can help with this process. If you mixed the essential oils with water, you can spray on the solution, and if you've mixed the oils with shampoo, you can just massage them into the hair. Then, start combing with the nit comb.

This is a tight comb that helps spread the solution through the hair, but it also helps pull adult lice off the hair. It's one of the most effective ways to ensure that you are truly addressing each strand of hair.

Essential Oils Can Help With Other Aspects of Lice

Diatomaceous earth is a another natural answer for lice control. You apply this powder to the hair, leave it in overnight, and wash it out in the morning.

Unfortunately, some people experience skin irritations from this product. Luckily, essential oils can also help. To soothe irritated skin, try chamomile, lavender, neroli, or rose oils. These oils can also help with skin irritation if you have opted to use chemical treatments.

To learn more about your options, contact services like TruGardens.