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Parts of this were taken with permission from Essential Oils Overview and Reference Guide, published by: The Family Tree, 2008


LiceThree 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 clothing.

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. 


[search helps: disambiguation, sucking louse, pediculosis, ectoparasites, pediculus humanus capitis, pthirus pubis]

Oils, blends & products recommended:

Oils & Blends:  EucalyptusEC, GeraniumEC, LavenderEC, LemonEC, MelaleucaC

Essential oils based products:

Also consider: Protective Blend, Cleansing Blend, RosemaryEC, Repellent BlendC

Suggested protocols:

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 others.

Mild: Mix the following and apply to the scalp:

  2-5 drops Melaleuca

  2-5 drops Lemon

  5-10 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 hour. 

  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:

  10 drops Eucalyptus

  5 drops Geranium

  5 drops Lavender

  5 drops Melaleuca

  5-10 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 shampoo.

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 gone.

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:

  1-2 tblspns VCO (organic), melted

  10 drops Eucalyptus

  5 drops Lavender

  5 drops Melaleuca

  5 drops Geranium

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;

  1 ounce apple cider vinegar

  4 drops of Eucalyptus

  4 drops of Lavender

  4 drops of Melaleuca

  8 oz of water

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 Protective Blend 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 Protective Blend 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 Cleansing Blend 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 this:

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 Marjoram.

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 essential.


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 out!


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 Repellent Blend and Cleansing Blend plus the citrus oils work really well. I would send the Cleansing Blend and Repellent Blend first.

Rob - Pats recommendations are great.  I would use the Repellent Blend neat as a repellant and you could send him a spritzer and have him use Invigorating Blend, Cleansing Blend, Peppermint, Lemongrass with pure water to spritz in and around his sleeping bag every night before going to bed.  He should definitely rub Protective Blend on his feet every night!

Protocols folks recommend for children



Diet and Nutritional complements to essential oils


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, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.


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).



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NOTE: The advice shared in this site has not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and methods recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor is it intended to replace proper medical help. As members offer or look for answers, kindly understand that essential oils work to help to bring the body into balance - thus helping the body's natural defenses to restore homeostasis. Essential oils are not used to "treat" medical problems.