Treating & Preventing Head Lice Naturally

By Kristie Turck •  Published 04/12/11 •  6 min read

Last updated on April 24th, 2022 at 05:39 pm

I got that dreaded note home from school. “There has been a confirmed case of lice in your child’s school.”  Lice! Eeek! I’ve not had any personal experiences with it yet and hope I never do but I wanted to look into it so that if it does happen, I’d have a plan of attack and not be stuck at the drugstore buying a toxic chemical potion.  Which is what happened to my dear friend Sommer when she was on vacation!  Her story is not an unfamiliar one and reading her personal experience with it, I just shook my head in agreement because I probably would have done the same thing given the circumstances.  The note goes on to outline all the toxic pesticides you can marinate your child’s head in and I would rather avoid it at all costs.

Unfortunately, when you do go to a drugstore the options available to us are sometimes not so vast. A quick glance at the selection of cures in the grocery store left 2 options, one a common brand called Nix.  Sommer did a great job at highlighting some of the natural brands and services available to treat lice such as Lice Happens, which is a service you can contact that will help you deal with and rid your life of a lice infestation.  They carry their own natural products as well.

But I wanted to also provide some tips I found comforting and a few other ideas that I thought might be comforting to someone dealing with an infestation or like me, it has occurred to a child in your school and you want to be prepared.  So here we go.

Prevention

Preventing lice is not really a 100% fool proof practice.  It happens and it’s not life threatening (there are worse things!) but very inconvenient.  I don’t know one person who wouldn’t take a few precautions if it’s possible to skirt a lice infestation. There are a few products that swear they are effective in deterring lice.  One is a product line I am familiar with and love and that is Babo Botanicals Lice Repel Shampoo and Conditioning Spray. Babo Botanicals had their product tested and it was deemed 95% effective in repelling lice.

Happy Heads  has an array of Lice Prevention products and systems including their Scootie-Cootie Organic Repelling Shampoo and Leave-in Conditioner & Detangler. They’re infused with 100% pure essential oils and are sulfate & paraben free. Safe for use daily!

Lice Happens also has a Lice Repellent Spray which is free from pesticides. It’s safe to use daily and their special mint formula  repels head lice. You can use it daily on kids who may be exposed to head lice at school, camp, playgrounds, sleepovers, or wherever kids play together. Those play places that have dress up always give me the heebs.

Washington Toxics Coalition offers some great advice that doesn’t require chemical intervention. Here are some highlights:

Preparation & Treatments

Having a few tools and products on hand in the event of lice can be a saving grace.  You can’t control every situation… you may be on vacation and without a choice, or visiting relatives and don’t have your supplies.  But if it strikes while you’re home you at least have the tools necessary to start treating the problem right away and naturally without having to resort to the selection at CVS.  That works too but if you’d rather not use a chemical pesticide on your kids head, then here’s a few things you may want to have available:

Lice/Nit Comb.  Apparently many kits come with one but the “good” ones are ideal because they are made with stainless steel and are more effective in removing lice and nits.  One of the most popular ones is called Nit Free Terminator, which you can also find at Babo Botanicals for $12. It seems steep for a lice comb but I’ve heard from other mothers who have dealt with lice that having a good comb makes a huge difference in removing and ending the nightmare. I’d say having on in your house for a just in case situation is warranted. Another one which is considered the “Gold Standard”  by HeadLice.org is the LiceMeister.  I’ve also seen the Robi Comb (thank you Green and Clean Mom for pointing that one out) an that looks like a good thing to have around. Though some have suggested that it’s not effective in finding and removing the eggs.

Topical Lice Treatments. Here’s where it gets tricky.  Since any immediate solution is going to fall in the drugstore category, you’re left with few non-toxic options.  Most non-toxic solutions need to be ordered online and waiting for a delivery while lice is running rampant in your home sounds horrific.  So having something around “just in case” can save you. Here is a list of brands that are free of toxic pesticides and use natural ingredients to treat and remove lice:

I don’t recommend trying other suggested natural remedies that I’ve seen circulating in the past, and advise that a pesticide free product specifically made to remove and kill lice and nits is the best way to go.  According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “Studies have shown lice can survive in hair covered with olive oil, mayonnaise and even petroleum jelly–even when it is left on the hair overnight.” So this isn’t always a good option.

This mom recounts a friends experience making her own lice removal product using olive oil and essential oils.  But the bottom line is, you need a good comb.  Read about it on Clean Green Start!

Tips For Removing Lice From Your Home

Removing the nits from your child’s heads is the key and not treating your home.  Though follow up cleaning is advisable.  Using pesticides to spray your home is not recommended and unnecessary.

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