different types of lice infestations are common on the human
body head lice, body (sucking) lice, and pubic (crab) lice.
The louse is a small, wingless, insect parasite that lives
off of the blood or other elements of the skin. Since
they do not fly or jump they are spread by human contact or
exchange of common clothing, bedding, hair brushes, etc.
The common symptoms of an infestation are reddish skin,
inflammation and itching of the irritated skin.
Lice may be visually detected. They are about 1/8
inch long and their eggs (nits) are about 1/16 inch long.
Head lice, common in children, are usually in the hair on
the back of the neck or around the ears. The egg will
be attached to the hair near the root. Pubic lice
(crabs) are found in the pubic area and in armpits and other
body hair including facial hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes.
Body lice and their eggs will be found in the seams of
Head lice spend their entire life cycle on the human body
so it is important when clearing an infestation to remove
the lice and the nits. A common tool to have during
treatment is a lice comb with tines close enough together to
remove both the lice and the nits. Body lice do not
live on the skin as head lice but rather live on clothing
and move from there to the body to feed. Therefore cleaning
and disinfecting clothing, bed clothing, furniture, etc. is
necessary to prevent reoccurrence of infestations.
disambiguation, sucking louse, pediculosis, ectoparasites,
pediculus humanus capitis, pthirus pubis]
Oils, blends & products
Oils & Blends:
EucalyptusEC, GeraniumEC, LavenderEC, LemonEC, MelaleucaC
Essential oils based
On Guard, Purify, RosemaryEC, TerraShieldC
Infestations of lice can range from mild to severe.
Listed below are a range of alternatives depending on the
severity of the infestation. In any case it is
important to identify the source and also to treat
surrounding areas, clothing, bedding, combs, brushes and
other potential locations the lice can be passed on to
Mild: Mix the following and apply to the
drops carrier oil
Let stand for at least 1/2 hour. Shampoo with good
quality shampoo with 2-5 drops of Melaleuca added to a
teaspoon of shampoo. Follow with the Melaleuca
shampoos daily for the following week.
Moderate: Use the above protocol but
modify with double the amount of Melaleuca and after the
application cover the head with a shower cap for 1/2 - 1
Follow this with a careful combing with a lice comb.
Repeat daily until no signs of lice or nits are visible.
Continue with Melaleuca shampoos daily for a minimum of a week.
Severe: Mix the following and apply to
the scalp every night for a week:
drops carrier oil (VCO)
Comb with a lice comb then cover with a shower cap for
the night. Be careful to protect the eyes from any
oils. Follow the next morning with a good quality
shampoo with 2-5 drops of Melaleuca added to a teaspoon of
Experiences and Testimonials of others
Dany - I have a
neighbor who's boy has a pretty sever case of Head Lice.
His sister not quite as bad, but has them. Are there
essential oils that might help this?
Pat - Use Melaleuca and Lemon with a
little carrier oil and rub it onto the scalp, let it sit for
about 1/2 hour and wash it out using some Melaleuca in the
shampoo. Use Melaleuca in the shampoo for the next week,
washing the hair daily and those little buggers will be
Jessica - Melaleuca oil...saturate the
head, wrap in saran wrap then get the lice comb and get
EVERY SINGLE nit and egg...if you do it right...you will
only have to do it twice...lol
Au - I have recently helped someone who
had a case of head lice. It was with much study and
research that I came up with a blend of oils in a base of
organic virgin coconut oil. It got rid of about 20 live
lice and a bunch of nits. This took about a week of daily
application, but of course chemical free.
Every night before bed time:
tblspns VCO (organic), melted
Rub this blend into his scalp every night, then take a
metal comb and comb through his hair. Buy a disposable
shower cap and put it on his head for the night. Be careful
of his eyes, the Eucalyptus will not be fun in his eyes.
The next morning, Use a shampoo/essential oil blend to
wash the coconut oil out. Buy a very mild shampoo, either
organic or an unscented baby shampoo. Depending on the
size, add about 20 drops of Lavender and 20 drops of Lemon
to the shampoo. Wash and rinse twice.
After the 30 min or so I washed his hair with YL Lavender
shampoo. (Only wash hair over a tub, the lice can attach
itself onto body hair) Dry off with a towel.
If the infestation is serious, after the wash, you can do
a rinse with;
ounce apple cider vinegar
drops of Eucalyptus
drops of Lavender
drops of Melaleuca
• 8 oz
Let this rinse air dry. As I said before, be careful of
the eyes. The vinegar smell will go away as it dries, and
the oils actually smell pretty good for a while.
During this time, make sure you add On Guard and Lemon to
your washing machine and always use hot water. Make a
carpet dust with baking soda (1cup), put it in a empty
Pringles can and add 20 drops of On Guard or another favorite
oil or blend. Sprinkle on the carpets and leave for an hour
before vacuuming. EVERYTHING (Couches, counters, surfaces,
beds, bed sheets, else in the home needs to be sprayed 2-3
times daily with a blend of 20 drops of Purify and 10 drops
of Eucalyptus in 2 cups of pure water in a spray bottle.
This is hard work, but it will get rid of nasty lice. Be
persistent for a week or maybe more!
Samara - I thought this was a great
question and one I really wanted to know too. I don't have
any experience but I did a google search and came up with
Using essential oils
Many publications list several essential oils suitable
for treating head lice. Of these, Veal (1996) used
laboratory tests to assess their effectiveness in killing
both eggs and live lice. She arrives at the following:
Oregano, aniseed and Cinnamon leaf – kills 100% of adults
and eggs. Tea tree – 83% eggs, 93% adults. Veal also states
that the active ingredient in the essential oils used are
mostly the phenols, ketones, oxides or aldehydes, so oils
high in these chemicals will be the most effective. These
would include Bergamot, Spearmint, Niaouli, Petitgrain,
Pennyroyal, Ravenscara, Benzoin, Caraway seed, Roman
Chamomile, Eucalyptus (citriodora and smithii), Clary Sage,
Jasmine, West and East Indian Lemongrass, and Spanish
The most effective method of application was using a high
concentration of essential oil in alcohol (alcohol makes the
insect skins more permeable to the insecticide properties of
the essential oil solution).
E.g.: 50 mls alcohol (vodka) to 10 drops essential oil
rubbed into the scalp/hair, then left overnight.
The solution can then be washed off with shampoo, after
which 2 mls of the original mix is added to a rinse solution
of 50 ml vinegar and 50 ml water. The treatment should be
repeated after 7 days and fine combing between treatments is
Ramona - So, I just
found out that there has been a case of head lice in my
daughter's class at school. Any ideas of how I can use
oils to prevent her from getting it. Would Peppermint
be the best to maybe spray on her hair or rub into her scalp
so they would leave her alone?
Marti - Add Melaleuca to fragrance free
shampoo. Also, just to be safe: 10 drops
Eucalyptus, 5 drops Melaleuca, 5 drops Lavender and 5 drops
Geranium in 2 tablespoons of melted virgin coconut oil. Rub
on scalp at night or for at least 2-3 hours with shower cap.
Loryjean - You might also consider
putting a couple of drops in the hand with their shampoo;
that's what I do with Rosemary, and my hair no longer falls
Skousenmom - Hi, I have a son serving a
mission in Argentina. He is way out in the country and
things are not very sanitary there. What would you
recommend for lice and bedbugs? Thanks!
Pat – Great blends for this are
TerraShield and Purify plus the citrus oils work really
well. I would send the Purify and TerraShield first.
Rob - Pats recommendations are great. I
would use the TerraShield neat
as a repellant and you could
send him a spritzer and have him use Citrus Bliss, purify,
Peppermint, Lemongrass with pure water to
spritz in and
around his sleeping bag every night before going to bed. He
should definitely rub On Guard on his feet every night!
What Science & Research are saying
Pediculocidal and scabicidal
properties of Lippia multiflora essential oil.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2000 Sep;72(1-2):305-11;
Oladimeji FA, Orafidiya OO, Ogunniyi TA, Adewunmi TA.;
Department of Pharmaceutics, Obafemi Awolowo Univesity,
The essential oil from the leaves of Lippia multiflora
Moldenke (Verbenaceae) was tested for its pediculocidal and
scabicidal activites against bodylice, headlice and scabies'
mites. The 'knockdown' times obtained for bodylice
and headlice using lippia oil preparations were
comparatively shorter than those obtained using benzyl
benzoate and Delvap Super, a brand of dichlorvos. The lethal
effect of the lippia oil on headlice was increased when
applied in an enclosed system that prevented volatilization
of the oil while allowing maximum contact of the vapour with
the headlice. A 20% v/v preparation of lippia oil
applied to scabietic subjects for 5 consecutive days gave
100% cure compared with 87.5% cure obtained for benzyl
benzoate preparation of the same concentration. The GC-MS
analysis of oil revealed, among others, the presence of
terpineol, alpha- and beta-pinene which are known to be
lethal to body and headlice.
Editorial note – Lippia multiflora Moldenke (Verbenaceae)
seems to be what is also known as Mexican Oregano (different
than Oregano - origanum vulgare).