Natural Lice Prevention

I discovered recently that my kids’ school has been experiencing regular outbreaks of lice over the past few months. My family hasn’t experienced lice, even though it seems to be regular occurrence in all schools, so after I checked all four kid’s hair and sighed with relief that we didn’t have it, I started thinking about prevention. From talking to many parents, it seems like chemical treatments and natural lice treatments both take a long time to remove lice 100%, so if that’s the case …why use the extra chemicals on children? And let’s think of some tips for prevention. As most readers know, since I have a daughter that has dry skin outbreaks from eczema flare ups, I only shampoo all of my kid’s hair once a month. Funny, because barbers, parents, and family look surprised when I mention that. And my children (I think) have gorgeous hair – everyone always wants to touch my older son’s hair because it’s thick and beautiful (see below). So only occasional washing is working well for our family. And when I do wash their hair, I use a teaspoon of baking soda mixed into a cup or warm water instead of store bought shampoo. On my sons especially, their hair feels amazing after it’s washed this way. But technically their hair is on the dirty side most days rather than the squeaky clean and funny enough, Jennifer from The Smart Mama confirmed for me that lice prefer clean hair! So one more bonus of not over washing children’s hair is it’s a deterrent for lice. Hooray for the hippies!

The most popular methods of DIY lice prevention include tea tree oil. This oil is natural antiseptic and can be a preventative tool against lice. Add 12 drops to ¼ pint water and put in a spray bottle. Mist hair each morning with this solution. A Mommy Footprint Facebook fan reported success with daily use of tree tea oil to prevent lice by using this method: “I put a couple of drops of tea tree oil on my hand and they get a hair rub-down (especially at nape of neck and behind ears) before we go to school (I leave the tea tree oil in a cupboard at our front door). Other Mom’s at the school put the tea tree oil with some H2O in a spray bottle and spritz their kids’ heads (and I can report that their kids have not had lice either)”. Hang onto that tea tree oil because if you do experience lice, you can add multiple drops into your wash along with detergent for bedding, blankets and clothes. Also use tea tree oil to rub around the interior of hats & helmets – kill the lice on the hat and it will rub off onto your child’s head!

Tiffany from Nature Moms Blog recently went through lice treatment with a child and had some great tips. Her full article is here, and her all natural lice shampoo treatment recipe is:

1 Quart size ball jar
1 Tablespoon (1 squirt) Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap
8-10 Drops tea tree oil (we use Trader Joe’s brand)
Fill jar to top with water, shake before each use.
Rinse with vinegar and let sit in hair for 5 minutes. Plastic wrap is optional
Comb hair with flea comb or lice comb

This recipe sounds much easier than the mayo or coconut oil treatments recommended to work. With these treatments you basically coat hair with a natural oil (coconut, olive, or mayonnaise) and try to smother the lice. Most treatments call for wrapping in plastic wrap and sleeping, then repeating 12-14 times. Wow – the more research I did on all natural lice treatments, the more determined I am to prevent it from happening. We’ve got the occasional hair washing already happening, next I will start daily tea tree oil squirts. With base ball season and ball caps, outbreaks at school, and Spring time being the season for lice, it was a timely discussion and I thank Tiffany and Jennifer for their advice!

And here’s the picture I snapped of my oldest son’s hair – I think it’s just gorgeous. He’s only 10 years old, but I hope he keeps the easy, no-poo hair care remedies and doesn’t start using gel or spray. When any of my kid’s ends feel dry we just use a bit of coconut oil to moisturize & for styling.

Related Posts:

No Poo Anyone?

All Natural Hair DIY Deep Conditioner

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7 Responses to Natural Lice Prevention

  1. Tiffany (NatureMom) April 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    Thanks for sharing my shampoo recipe. I hope it helps someone going through a lice invasion!

  2. Fran August 19, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    At the end of the day the best prevention is not sharing hats, combs, hair bands, etc. Also not hugging and having your hair touch other peoples hair. Used tea tree oil in many ways once my kids started school and my daughter still got it twice. It helps, but is not perfect.

  3. Sarah August 20, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    I used tea tree oil as a preventative for years, but finally got the lice invasion anyhow last year. When 1/2 of the class has it, tea tree oil will only go so far. Plus there is nothing proven scientifically in this regard. Did you know lice have air vents on their body they can close for up to 24 hours? Coconut oil might slow them down temporarily, and tea tree oil will sterilize them but neither will kill them!
    The only and safest way to get rid of them is a fastidious manual combing regimen with a professional quality lice comb–the Lice Meister was amazing for us, the only comb I could repeatedly boil and still pulled the nits (eggs) out. No chemicals or substances (natural or other wise) required. A good quality comb pulls the lice and their eggs out. Repeat daily for several weeks and you’re done. You can never stop having to check though, throughout the year, as an invasion caught early is much easier to handle than a full blown case.

  4. stacyelle October 24, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing a simple approach to the situation. I have done tons of research and everything I found was so complicated. We are infrequent no poo with a apple cider vinegar chaser kind of people and love it. Now to explore more of your stuff.

  5. hazelbite November 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    I was looking for a natural lice preventative and found your site. I must admit, I’m guilty of washing my son’s hair every night or at the very least every other, and it goes against everything I’m told like you said about lice liking clean rather than “dirty” hair. Also, I think your son’s hair looks amazing. Thanks for the tip!

  6. Bonnie Way November 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    Interesting! My niece has gorgeous, Anne-Shirley curls and my sister-in-law recently made the comment that if she ever gets lice, it’s going to be a nightmare! She was asking about tea tree oil to prevent lice, so thanks for sharing your experience! I’ll have to tell her about it. :)

  7. Veronica November 13, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    I read an article that said lice are scent-driven pests & that a Harvard study found peppermint oil to be the best deterrent for lice (probably the least pleasing smell to them). I’m going to give your repellant recipe a try substituting the tea tree for peppermint. I think the peppermint would be more pleasing to smell all day than the tea tree oil anyway. ;)

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