The use of tea tree oil has become quite popular ultimately. It has interesting properties and you’ll find that people use tea tree oil for head lice and tea tree oil for prevention of head lice. Does it work? Can you use it safely? Here is what you should know about this home remedy.

What is tea tree oil?

Tea tree oil is also called Melaleuca oil, as it comes from the plant Melaleuca Alternifolia, a plant native from Australia. Actually it has nothing to do with tea tree, the leaves of which have a great aroma once crushed. This common name comes from the first pioneers who used to boil the leaves of different species to make a kind of tea.

The tea tree is also called Leptospermum. The plant with which we obtain tea tree oil for lice is Melaleuca Alternifolia.

Tea tree oil and head lice

Why can tea tree oil lice remedies be effective?  Tea tree oil contains terpenoids, which have antiseptic and antifungal properties. A study conducted in Ireland has shown that one of the main components of tea tree oil, terpinen-4-ol, has insecticidal power and kills head lice by acting on their nervous system.

Warning: research is recent and there is no clear scientific evidence that tea tree oil really works for treating head lice. Moreover, it can have side-effects and should not be applied pure on babies, young children and pregnant women. Additional research is still needed until tea tree oil can be recommended as a safe lice removal method.

Tea tree oil may kill adult lice and nymphs, but there is no evidence that it will be effective on head lice eggs. To effectively remove the live lice eggs, you should comb them out with a nit comb.

How can you use head lice tea tree oil?

Tea tree oil can be a powerful remedy when used on its own, but it is better and safer to dilut it.  The best way is to combine tea tree oil with olive or vegetable oil. You may also want to add other essential oils and herbs.  

You can mix for example 5 drops of tea tree oil with 100 ml vegetable oil, and you can even add to this other essential oils.

Or you can do your own natural tea tree oil shampoo lice remedy. Here is how to proceed:

Put together 5 teaspoons of pure coconut carrier oil, 5 drops of tea tree oil, 5 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, 5 drops of lavender essential oil, 5 drops of rosemary essential oil, and 5 drops of peppermint essential oil (for the flavour).

Then, add a small quantity of regular shampoo to this mixture. Put this on the hair, and make sure you coat the hair well, all the way to the edges. Cover the hair and leave it on for about three hours before washing it out.

Where can you buy tea tree essential oil?

You can usually buy tea tree oil it at natural stores, or in places such as Vitamin World or GNC in the United States. You should not buy an oil in a clear glass, because essential oils are very sensitive to light and light can cause the oil to spoil. Essential oils should be sold in dark amber or blue glass bottles.

Precautions to take when using tea tree oil lice remedies

As many natural substances, the fact that tea tree oil for head lice is a natural treatment does not mean that you can use it without talking any precautions. Natural remedies can also be harmful if used improperly.

Sometimes people may have allergic reactions to tea tree oil, ranging from mild contact dermatitis to severe rashes. And pure tea tree oil applied to the skin may cause skin irritation, blistering, and itching.

Moreover, tea tree oil should not be taken internally, even in small quantities. It can cause diarrhea, as well as central nervous system disorders such as drowsiness, sleepiness, confusion, and even coma. Thus you should always contact your health care practitioner if you experience such symptoms.

Eventually, make sure you don’t use tea tree oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and keep tea tree oil out of the reach of children and pets.


Clive Mills, Brian V. Cleary, John J. Walsh, John F. Gilmer – Inhibition of acetylcholinesterase by Tea Tree oil – Tea tree oil

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