How to Treat Head Lice with Olive Oil

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When you realize that your child has head lice you have to choose between traditional OTC lice treatments and a more natural head lice treatment. Among them, the head lice olive oil treatment, though very simple, is one of the most effective ways to get rid of these parasites, and here you’ll learn exactly why.

The olive tree has exceptional therapeutic properties. In fact, all parts of the tree possess interesting properties for medical use. Our ancestors in ancient Greece used olive oil as an ointment to treat aches, ulcers and even cholera.

olive oil treatment for lice They used the leaves of the olive tree as a base, astringent and purifying, as well as preparations made from leaves and olive oil to cure all kinds of inflammations. Moreover, the flowers, bark and ash of the olive tree were included in many medicinal preparations.

Several informal studies show the effectiveness of vegetable oils in the treatment of lice. A test conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that lice submerged in olive oil for two hours die asphyxiated.

The effectiveness of olive oil is explained by the fact that by coating the skin of adult lice, it deprives them of oxygen. As they can no longer breathe, they die.

How to apply the olive oil treatment for head lice

You can definitely use olive oil to treat head lice and here is how you should proceed. In fact it is sufficient to put olive oil on your child’s hair and put a plastic wrap around without leaving any air come in. The oil will thus asphyxiate head lice.

After about two hours, preferably three, wash the hair with mild shampoo, rinse well and comb the hair with a head lice comb to remove dead lice. Sometimes it is necessary to repeat the shampoo two or three times to completely remove the oil. You should know that this remedy, just like any other head lice treatment, does not work 100%, so you might still have some live lice after treatment, and you’ll need to remove them manually or repeat the treatment.

Will this olive oil treatment work on nits?

The head lice olive oil treatment has not been tested on nits, and the test conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health did only prove the efficiency of olive oil on lice, not their eggs.

It is likely that the treatment will not work as well on nits as it does on adult lice. But there is a very good natural head lice treatment that you can use to unglue the nits from the hair shaft, it is vinegar. It is then much easier to comb them out. You’ll find more details here:  vinegar for head lice.

What about essential oils?

Essential oils are volatile oils, very fragrant, obtained by steam distillation of flavoring plants. Some oils contain up to 300 different molecules, depending on the plant used, on the time of harvest, on the climate and quality of the distillation. To give you an idea, about 100 kg of fresh lavender are needed to extract 1 kg of essential oil.

The essential oils contained in many plants have insecticidal properties, antibacterial and antifungal. When used for therapeutic purposes, be sure to use quality products, and ideally from organic farming. So for the perfect herbal head lice treatment, consider adding a few drops of essential oil such as lavender oil or tea tree to the olive oil, as this will also help prevent another infestation, promote healing and add a pleasant smell that children will like.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

sweettart November 15, 2011

I have just heard lice is going around my children’s school. (Tell me something new) And I had no idea that vinegar and olive oil would do this. The crazy thing? I just started using homemade shampoo which as olive oil in it and also conditioner which is just 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. The vinegar actually works as good or better than anything I’ve ever tried. You don’t need to use any kind of commercial conditioner. Anyway back to the lice, I was really excited to see this site and to try out this stuff on my kids without burning away their scalp with the commercial lice shampoo. I remember my mom using that stuff on me. Ouch!

kimberly January 22, 2012

this has been a gruesome process in my home. My niece came and spent the night before new years. the next morning i washed her hair and was combing it when i found she had lice. I had her mom pick her up asap.stripped my entire home.. blankets pillows.. sheets,, everything i could wash was washed.. . i checked my 4 year olds head for that next week.. and then i found some nits and a few live lice. i rushed out and bought the RID which was a joke. after treatment she still had live lice in her head. not mant. i only found 3. 0ne adult. so ive been looking since this happened and sure enough two weeks later i find two more live adult lice and eggs in her head.. this is a very frustrating process. ive washed everything and cant figure out where they came from. unless i missed a few eggs.. these are so hard to see. i have my son hold a flashlight and we go inch by inch in her head.. so this morning we went thru her head again and i think got all nite/eggs out. she now has the oil on her head.. i didn’t see any live lice. i did see a few white eggs/nits which i know is newly hatched.. but after several hours i still didn’t see any live lice.. doing the oil treatment to be safe.. i am praying i got all the nits out.. i really do not like this whole lice issue. and if it wasn’t brought in to my home i wouldn’t be at war with them.. but here we r almost a month later and still looking for lice.. :(:(

Bernadette January 27, 2012

We have been dealing with lice for 2 months. In November a child a daycare was found to have lice. So, I checked my daughter and about 2 weeks later I found a handful of nits. Treated with Nix. Next day 2 live lice. Treated with QuitNIts. 4 weeks later 8 live lice and more nits. 2 weeks late one nymph. At this point I think she is lice free ( please GOD!) But what I have done differently this time is that I am going through her hair extensively on a regular basis. I mean a 90 minute process several times per week. I am getting really good at it. I also started cutting out the strand of hair with the nit on it to seal in a bag and throw out. The first time I cut out about 8 nits. Next time 3, next time 1, next time 1, finally 0 several times in a row. I am only doing it twice a week now until for 30 days I find no lice or nits. Unfortunately, I have no one to check me. I have long curly hair and it is impossible for me to use the comb. I keep treating myself which I know sounds crazy so, I am going to start with this olive oil method. As most people, I hate lice and they freaked me out even before my 4 year old got them. However, I am much better now because I know what to do. I wish at the very beginning I would have treated, gone through her hair over and over then re-treated on day 9 and still gone through her hair over and over until no lice for a length of time. Washing everything in the house and buying new brushes etc. was the easy part….the “nit-picking” was the hard part but really the only way to absolutely get rid of lice, in my opinion. I do not think that I have had them during this time but it is nice to know that I can at least treat my daughter. Another thing that really helped me was learning the true life cycle of a louse. The newly hatched baby lice (nymph) cannot lay eggs for 7 days. The RID/NIX do not kill most nits especially freshly laid nits. So, using the products to kill the lice helps but only until the nits hatch , mature and start laying more eggs.
Bottom Line-
search head and get rid of nits (this process takes a long time and I prefer to do it by hand)
search search search over and over
retreat (with whatever method you choose) on day 9
search until no nits or lice are found for an extended period of time

I know it is super gross to search etc. but if you want to deal with lice for the shortest period of time you must remove the nits. I hope this helps at least one person!

Mark February 9, 2012

Well when my 3 year old got lice from her cousin, I freaked out. I read up on the life cycle and everything else I could find out. Turns out when the bugs are resistant to the poisons they say to use olive oil, so we skipped the poison and went right for the olive oil. Waited, washed, removed the few nits we could find, washed her linens, bagged up all her stuffies, for two weeks. The babies hatch out in one to two weeks from the nits but they need to get a blood meal or they will die within a day or two of hatching. So we just did the oil treatments for three weeks, on Saturdays. Never found another nit or had anymore lice. Whenever they find lice on a kid at her school we just look for nits and do an olive oil treatment. 5 years later and we have never had a re-infestation.

mommakim6 March 28, 2012

I have 6 children, 5 girls one boy, ranging from 19 to 5. Never in our years, have we ever had to fight the lice problem and consume our lives with making it go away. I have spent 50.00 copay per young child on the prescription that made my 8 year old cry NOT TO MENTION THE 5 YEAR OLD RED HEAD CHILD WITH FAIR SKIN THAT HAD BURNS ON HER EARS AND SCALP.. and sweat b/c she had been itching so much, and after that darn treatment, still had live bugs in her head. After all the advice and guidance from the nurse at our pediatric office, I have learned to treat with natural remedies, olive oil with tea tree oil. What frustrated me was that it took 5 days of searching and pulling in their heads, for them to tell me that lice are resistant to some treatments. I was so upset, I had wished I would have done the old fashioned tx that my facebook friends recommended instead of harsh chemicals. If I do an overnight tx , then we wrap with a shower cap. I can TELL YOU THIS PARENTS…WHILE I AM TREATING THE AFFECTED AREAS WITH THE TEA TREE OIL MIXEED WITH OLIVE OIL, THE LIVE BUGS START CRAWLING AWAY FROM THE SCALP AWAY FROM THE HAIR SHAFT while I am messaging the formula in my girls hair. I make my husband look so he can see how different the outcome is with the meds the pediatrician can prescribe and the OTC and the natural remedies I have come to use.

Kaid November 16, 2012

I’ve got 2 kids and neither of them have ever had lice until a month ago. My son was easy since all I had to do was shave him bald. Unfortunately that’s not socially acceptable for girls and neither is burning everything in sight. I vacuumed/steamcleaned/sprayed all the carpets and my car, bagged everything, washed everything I owned (including their backpacks), put vinyl covers on all the mattresses and pillows, spent 6 hours going through my daughter’s hair and picking out every last bugger one by one, did the shampoo (which is totally crap by the way), and the lice STILL came back. Went through the treatment again. This time we started using tea tree oil. I did the treatment again….picked out all the little buggies one by one again. Nurse checked her, she was clean and yesterday she came home with it AGAIN…..Went through all the treatment one more time, left the shampoo in longer and when I blowdried her hair, I found one of the nasty little buggers just marching along still.
I’m gonna try this Olive Oil/Vinegar method to see how it works. I’ve also heard that Robi-Combs are amazing. They’re electronic combs that you run through dry hair that’s supposed to electrocute the lice.
Also, it doesn’t always do those of us who do everything right any good if other parents don’t care about treating their homes or their kids. They’ll just keep investing our kids with it. It’s a long tedious process.

Debbie December 19, 2012

I have two teenage girls now but when my youngest daughter was in grade school I had a terrible time with head lice affecting her. We tried the Nix treatment and found that not only did it not work, it caused her to have a seizure due to the malathion that is in the head lice treatment! I used the olive oil treatment after that and we never had a problem again. I highly recommend this treatment and it works especially well if it is left on overnight and rinsed out and combed through in the morning.

mommy911 January 21, 2013

Hi, I have a daughter and never in our lives had we had lice before.I had thought that my daughter had a dry scalp so, i put an olive oil treatment on on her hair. later that day i checked her hair and saw she had these little adults and nits on her hair ! I did not know what to do so I immediately ran to Walgreen’s and had bought a shampoo treatment to fight the lice ! later that afternoon I drove home and quickly put it on her hair. we then combed everywhere and had gotten all the lice\adults off. The only thing is that the eggs\nits were still there so I am going to put some vinegar on her scalp and hopefully the nits will come off, wish me luck :)

Trisha January 23, 2013

A few years ago both of my children were literally infested. Sat and hand picked both heads (one blonde, the other brunette)… After two treatments no more. Periodically, my youngest (brunette) would come home and we treat with OTC, wash and spray… and they are gone. Well, somehow and somewhere she gets them again and it seemed as if it was overnight my youngest was infested – too boot, she was in a competition where it required her hair to be gelled and braided tightly. Again, used OTC; either an egg was missed or she was reinfected, but 7 days later, we were at it again. I have never ever used anything but OTC things. Yesterday morning when I was getting ready for work, she came in and asked if I could help her with her ponytail (her hair is always in a ponytail). Thats when I noticed them again and it was a full infestation -again… I immediately got her into the bath with the RID shampoo that I had remaining at home. Purchased the NIX treatment and started combing and picking… Sadly to say she had over 30 full blown live bugs and countless small bugs and god knows how many eggs…. I contacted her school nurse who then advised me that it is against policy to do mass head checks (WHAT?)…she further stated that she will mention to the teacher and request the teacher to send anyone to the clinic who is scratching their own heads. I had to remind the ‘nurse’ that unless there is a live bug feeding on the scalp, there will be no scratching; she replied with an ‘oh’. I then called the district because if there is a policy for no mass head checks, there is a problem with it-a school wide epidemic will start (I also know for a fact that half of the kindergarten classes were sent home because of this). District told me that mass checks were allowed but since school was closed for three days, all the bugs would be dead. I then had to remind them, thats true, however, if a child had it before the weekend and it wasnt caught (i.e. like mine) they would be returning to school with them to infect the others. Also, if the eggs hadnt hatched just yet, once they did there would be all kinds of food sources for them… I again was replied with ‘oh’… SO off I go with the vinegar and olive oil treatments today. Second dayof treating as well as a second day of missed work…. sigh…

Joanne February 4, 2013

Hello fellow lice fighters,
I have had to follow all the usual protocol in order to rid my children of lice, from mayonnaise in the hair over night, to drug store products claiming to kill these nasty creatures.
Now, one other strange method I have found that works well, but I would not recommend for younger children is using a flatiron on the hair. This really only works for hair long enough to run through, the flat iron, and obviously you must take extra precautions using high heat. I was able to use the flat iron on my daughters hair, and I could actually hear the nits/lice burning and popping as I ran over them. I also used a flat comb held against her scalp in the section of hair I was flat ironing to protect from accidentally getting too close with the flat iron. You know your child best, so please use discretion in deciding on this method. Afterward, I would hand pick and comb out all the toasted nits! Yum!

Colette April 17, 2013

Good Afternoon to All you bug-fighting parents. I am “itchy” all over now just by reading through all of your stories. We also have a cronic bug problem in our school and the problem that I have with it is that nothing gets done about it. We as parents (the caring ones) can do everything under the sun to try and keep our children free from it, but it is going to keep coming back if the other parents don’t sort out the problem on their side. The fact that “the schools are not allowed to do head inspections anymore”, tells me the lice have more “rights” than the health of our children. I had my daughter’s hair trimmed at the hairdresser two years ago, also after using the lice shampoo and the comb for two weeks every single night and I was certain there was nothing left. To my embarrassment, the hairdresser saw a nit and she refused to trim my daughter’s hair. So I had to start the whole process all over again, eventually I got rid of all the nits (I have never seen a live lice and also don’t think I’ll be able to handle it). I mixed some tea tree oil into our shampoo and it seemed to have helped, untill January when she went back to school after the December holidays. That was when I decided “enough is enough”, I went to the shops and bought her hair colour, the same shade as her own hair and I coloured her hair. It is now three months later and I still have not seen anything again. The school also did not say anything to her about her hair colour as you can see she looks a little different (I also don’t think they will as they know the problem is out of control). So now I am going to colour her hair every three months and in between she also uses the flat iron (just to burn them incase they dare to come back). I mean serious business with these horrible little things. I feel if the school can’t protect my child against lice because of some or other pathetic policy, I will not follow their rules as I feel the health and wellbeing of my child is far more important than a set of rules that cause more bad than good in anyway, so “Hello to Hair Colour!!!”. Lice will only transfer onto “virgin” hair, free from chemicals such as amonia and peroxide (as per my hairdresser), and that is why they’ve never transferred onto my hair. Good Luck to You All!

EmilyGraves April 30, 2013

The best remedy I have ever found turned out to be the easiest and cheapest and most effective for my long and very thick hair! ( I had everything i needed right in my bathroom.) Mix about a cup of a good quality anti-dandruff shampoo with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of peppermint oil and 2 teaspoons tea tree oil. completely soak your head in it and wrap it up tight with a shower cap or plastic bag. they can’t get away from it fast enough! let it sit for an hour then shampoo it out and condition the hair. then just comb it with a flea comb. (I say flea comb because it has metal teeth that don’t break in thick hair. and it gets the eggs, nits, and lice. Pick it up in the pet supplies section of your grocery store. that plastic lice comb always breaks on my hair.) Killed every single one of the little buggers. And i didn’t have to repeat.

EmilyGraves April 30, 2013

Also put a little peppermint oil into your normal shampoo. Its a natural deterrent to lice. They avoid your kid and your kid smells great!

Maggie June 24, 2013

As a child I had lice a lot! Stinking elementary school. Well, we did the chemical treatments that burn like crazy and stink horribly and make you feel as if you’re losing brain cells. Finally my mom read up on it and figured out about the olive oil trick! Thank God!!! The only thing is- that this site doesn’t say- you need to repeat the olive oil treatment every 4 days for 28 days. This insures that every egg that hatches will be destroyed. .. Since then I didn’t have lice. though for years I could use olive oil. lol. Now as an adult my 5 year old has lice . Guess whats on her and my head. Olive oil!!! I refuse to put those chemicals on her.

Nancy July 13, 2013

Ohhh, I FEEL your pain!
This is my second go around. My 3 daughters had it 4 years ago while I was 8 months pregnant. We tried all the usual POISON and they were still hanging around. What FINALLY got rid of it was this:
We soaked our hair in olive oil and put on a shower cap. We let it sit until the next morning. (18-24 hrs).
We washed it out, blew it dry and then took one inch sections and flat ironed it from the scalp down to the tip 2x a day for 3 days. (3 days was Probably over kill, but I was desparate to get rid of them before going into the hospital to have my baby) The olive oil smothered the live ones and the flat ironing fries the eggs. It is almost impossible to catch every last egg, so frying the little bastards worked for us!
Not to mention washing EVERYTHING, vacuuming EVERYTHING, storing all stuffed animals and fluffy pillows for 3 weeks and laying fresh towels over the car seats. One great thing about this was that we ended up tossing a lot of stuffed animals and de cluttering. Once they were in bags in the garage, they were forgotten about:)
We are all sitting in our shower caps now, with a little bit of oil dripping down our backs, including my 4 yr old son. GOOD TIMES!

Crystal August 18, 2013

This is the 2nd time my 5 year old has gotten live in 3 years. I always use the olive oil it works like a charm! I also use it on myself since I have very long thick dark hair. The trick is to fully saturate the hair in the olive oil, I don’t mix anything else in it cover with a shower cap or plastic shopping bag. I leave it in my 5 yr old for only about an hour since I’m able to comb through it and ill leave it on mine for 2-3 hours. I use dawn dish soap twice to wash it out then regular shampoo. All the bedding is either washed or put in dryer and stuffed animals baged up and put in garage for a couple of weeks and vacum couches and such. After a few days I repeat the process and then one week later (again wash or dry the bedding and vacuum). After that we are completly lice free! It’s not expensive and it’s natural so no harsh chemicals.

Pinkie71 February 8, 2014

Our daughter got lice and we bought everything under the sun to get rid of it buy nothing worked went to the doctor and got a prescription lice treatmentthat did not work finally frustrated I turned to Adams flea and tick shampoo FINALLY NO MORE LICE!!! I recommend doing this with extreme caution tho. I first did my own head to test the shampoo to make sure it wasn’t going to burn my scalp we put it on and then washed it off after a quick lather the smell wasn’t bad and it didn’t burn my eyes or scalp then we done our daughters a few days later LICE FREE! Now I recommend this to everyone!

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