3 Shampoos You Can Use to Prevent Head Lice

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Many people are thinking of using shampoos for head lice prevention. But there are some do’s and don’ts, and here are some shampoos to use to prevent head lice, as well as some shampoos that you should avoid when it comes to preventing head lice.

Head lice spread through direct head-to-head contact. The first head lice prevention measure is to avoid those contacts. It is easy for adults but more difficult for children, who have games that involve head-to-head contacts quite often. In this case you can use some shampoos.

Head lice are attracted to us by our human smell. If this smell is masked by another that has a repelling effect on head lice, then it will keep them away. This is exactly what essential oils based shampoos can do. You can use a tea tree oil shampoo, a lavender oil shampoo, or a coconut oil shampoo.

Coconut shampoo to prevent head lice

You can use a coconut-scented shampoo or conditioner or you can add a few drops of coconut oil to your regular soft shampoo. Coconut oil is antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial. It has been used in many countries as a home remedy against head lice.

Pros: this is a good shampoo to prevent head lice.

Cons: no cons, as there are no side-effects and coconut appears to be safe to use.

Tea tree oil shampoo to prevent head lice

You can either buy one of these ready-made shampoos or you can add a few drops of tea tree oil to your regular soft shampoo. Tea tree oil contains terpenoids, which have antiseptic and antifungal properties, and have thus the property to kill adult head lice and nymphs.

Pros: it works at preventing head lice because even if you catch a louse it will be killed by the tea tree oil.

Cons: tea tree oil is better as a home remedy when you have an infestation already, than to prevent head lice, because it can have side-effects and be harmful to your health. Sometimes people may have allergic reactions to tea tree oil, and pure tea tree oil applied to the skin may cause skin irritation, blistering, and itching. Then, it is not a recommended substance for children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Lavender oil shampoo to prevent head lice

You can either buy a ready-made shampoo that contains lavender or you can add a few drops of lavender essential oil to your regular soft shampoo. Just like tea tree oil, lavender oil contains terpenoids but much less than tea tree oil: the component terpinen-4-ol has a concentration of 30% to 50% in tea tree oil, but only 4% in lavender oil.

Pros: lavender can work well at preventing head lice and is safer as tea tree oil. It is not toxic and provokes very few skin irritations. It doesn’t have the side-effects of tea tree oil and is safer to use.

Cons: lavender oil shampoos should be used with care anyway, only to prevent head lice but not as an everyday remedy.

Commercial lice killing shampoos

These are shampoos which active ingredients are permethrin like in Nix, pyrethrum like in RID, or malathion.

They should NEVER be used to prevent head lice, as they have no prevention effect. Moreover, they can have side-effects that range from light to severe and should only be used to treat an existing head lice infestation.

FAQ: Does head & shoulders shampoo prevent you from getting lice?
This is a common question, maybe because some people saw the movie Evolution (2001) where the shampoo was used as a weapon to destroy the alien menace…Unfortunately, Head & Shoulders shampoo cannot prevent anyone from getting head lice and has no repelling power. This is an anti-dandruff shampoo, nothing more.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Erica January 23, 2012

Just a little info I’m a hairdresser and Paul Mitchell has two great shampoos I swear by and also use on my children. There is your awpuai which is cocoanut and my fav the tea tree with lavander you can’t beat that and I use these on my children daily they are great and make there hair pretty and shiny too!

Carol Gilbert February 9, 2012

There are known scents that lice do not like. You mentioned coconut, lavender, tea tree; mint is also a scent that they do not like. It has been proven that they tend to walk in another direction when coming into contact with these scents. But, if its the only head available, they will go regardless of what scent you have on your hair. In my experience a lot of the repellant shampoos and sprays give people a false sense of security. I get a lot of customers who say “I don’t understand why my kid got lice, I use the repellant shampoo everyday”. The best thing to do is more of “early detection”. Use a good nit comb (a metal one with microgrooving is the best) once a week on your children. This way if they end up getting lice, you will catch it right away. You can still use the repellants everyday but incorporate combing into your schedule.

deb January 4, 2014

H&S works for removing dandruff that lice can hide under- I get outbreaks occasionally because I work with sm. children so I am constantly getting rid of lice. sometimes I wonder if its worth it they do no harm and nothing really is 100%. when it gets too much i do a treatment with evoo and comb with the nit comb and it lasts quite awhile…i just get tired of doing it..i am losing enough hair with out pulling out more with that comb..thanks for letting me vent because this is such a sensitive subject w/parents there really aren’t too many places to talk about it.

David Arm February 9, 2014

The nits are the biggest problem because they are so hard to comb out. I found that white vinegar in a spray bottle will help loosen the strong adhesive that these parasitic eggs are attached with, helping them be combed out easier. I did it yesterday, my girls have long hair, I had to section off each part of the hair with a clip to be thorough. I came here to read about tea tree oil as it was recommended by a friend. I will probably go with the coconut oil shampoo as a preventive measure because it seems safest.

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