Over the past few years, we have published many “home remedy” posts about using olive oil to treat and kill head lice. Nevertheless, people still seems to have questions. So we are using this post to pull all of the pertinent information together in one post—consider it our definitive guide to treating lice at home with olive oil.
How it Works
First, let’s start with the head lice themselves. They breathe through tubules in their shells, called spiracles. They must breathe in order to survive. So, olive oil is ideal because this harmless-to-humans, natural treatment essentially suffocates the lice by clogging the spiracles.
How to Do It
The best, and most effective, method is to saturate the head and scalp with olive oil and leave on overnight. This gives the oil time to work suffocating the lice while you sleep. In the morning, simply comb the hair and scalp thoroughly with a high-quality metal comb, such as our outstanding OMG Nit-Free Terminator Comb.
It is important to remember that olive oil will not kill the eggs or nits (only live lice) so you must remove them with a comb or other tool.
Do Other Oils Work?
If you find yourself at home with no olive oil and a child with head lice, don’t panic. While olive oil is the top pick since it more viscous than other oils, you can actually use any other type of cooking oil, such as vegetable or coconut. Note: tea tree oil does not treat or kill lice.
Even if the oil does not completely eradicate the head lice, remain calm. Head lice, while an unpleasant annoying, are manageable and not life threatening.
Home Remedy with a History
History tells us that Colonial American Settlers used beef tallow to treat head lice, which is based on the same premise of suffocating the bugs. And, in the 1930 many women began using olive oil to treat lice in their children. Remember, our grandmothers and great-grandmothers relied on natural remedies long before we were even born.
If you still have questions or need additional assistance, feel free to contact us at 617-816-9487 or [email protected].