The popularity of the use of essential oils, like lavender oil or tea tree oil, to treat a number of conditions has increased in recent years. Tea tree oil has emerged as a potential treatment for head lice (pediculus humanus var). Tea tree oil has been shown to be effective at preventing lice, but it can also be used to aid in the removal and eradication of head lice. We at LiceDoctors, however, do not recommend this treatment due to the possibility of an allergic reaction.
WHAT IS TREE OIL?
Tree oil, also known as tea tree oil or melaleuca oil (melaleuca alternifolia), is an essential oil that is made from the Australian melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree). It is used by many in a regular skincare routine and can treat a number of ailments, including acne and other fungal infections, such as those of the nail and athlete's foot. Tea tree oil treatments have also been used for treating head lice and preventing lice.
Tea Tree Oil for Lice Prevention and Lice Treatment: What's the Difference?
There is anecdotal evidence that tea tree oil can be used to both treat head lice and prevent head lice. Please understand that both tea tree oil lice remedy and using this tree oil for lice prevention are not one and the same.
Preventing lice is an easy step that can save you the time and headache associated with lice treatment, and help you to avoid a re-infestation. Tea tree oil works by repelling lice because of its insecticidal properties. In addition to keeping the hair tied up and artificially dirty, you can use tea tree oil to repel a head louse looking for a new home. You may also include lavender essential oil or peppermint essential oil for this purpose. Some may choose to use a tea tree oil shampoo which can help. If you cannot find one, tea tree oil shampoo is easy enough to make, simply add a few drops of tea tree oil to your normal shampoo. You may do the same with lavender oil. Again, while these are more effective remedies than today’s chemicals, they still carry some risk and you would be better off avoiding them and just relying on olive oil.
Treating head lice involves killing lice which entails both removing nits, killing bugs that are in the hair, and a follow-up to address any remaining nits. We've mentioned that using the above steps will treat a lice infestation, but there is not much evidence to support whether tea tree oil kills lice or not without the use of olive oil, which is more viscous.
What are the Benefits of Tea Tree Oil for Lice?
Over-the-counter treatments continue to lose their effectiveness for the successful effective treatment of lice infestations. Alternative all-natural head lice treatments are available. The use of tea tree oil touts some scientific evidence that it can be used as a natural medicine for successful head lice infestation eradication and prevention. Some medical associations recommend tea tree oil because it is mild and often well tolerated by children and adults. In addition to its ability to treat children and adults for head lice infestations, it touts medicinal properties that can also be useful in calming skin irritation and aiding in overall scalp health. As with the use of any natural medicine, be alert when using botanical and synthetic substances like tea tree oil treatment or drops of tea tree oil to prevent lice, from any potential allergic reactions.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Lice?
The most effective treatment for head lice is to remove lice and their eggs from the hair. To try to do this with tea tree oil, you'll need to create a mixture of just a few drops of tea tree oil and carrier oil. Good carrier oils for this would be olive oil or coconut oil. The caveat here, though, is that you can more safely use just the olive oil and avoid any potential allergy triggers. For those folks who still insist on using tea tree oil to help kill head lice you can follow the below steps:
Step 1: After you have created your mixture of tea tree oil and either olive oil or coconut oil, saturate the head with the mixture. This should be applied to the dry hair shaft, never wet hair.
Step 2: You will need a fine-toothed comb, a good professional grade nit comb to remove head lice, including the adult stages and lice eggs. Section the hair and comb until you are no longer combing out bugs or lice eggs. By removing all of the bugs from the hair, you will be killing lice.
Step 3: Apply more of your mixture to the human scalp to ensure every strand of hair is saturated. Leave this on the hair for 8 hours. This will suffocate nymphs and adult lice that may remain in, or regain access to the hair. You may prefer to use a spray bottle to apply the tea tree oil. Make sure there is enough to suffocate lice. Remember to cover the hair so that you reach all of the tiny insects that may be hiding.
Step 4: Have a follow-up plan ready. Your first treatment will address the immediate infestation, but eggs laid the same day or the day before are not visible, so you need to have a plan to re-treat or follow up in such a way that it addresses the entire life cycle of lice. As we have said, while tea tree oil is a natural head lice remedy, be alert to the side effects of topical use like an allergic reaction. You do not need to use tea tree oil with this method; using just olive oil without tea tree essential oil will have the same effect and will eradicate lice.
WHEN TO USE TEA TREE OIL FOR LICE?
Tea tree oil may be used by anyone seeking to prevent lice or treat lice presuming there is no allergy. It can be implemented as a preventative before ever contracting lice, in the process of lice removal, or after nitpicking to ensure a case of lice does not re-occur. However, there are some risks associated with using tea trees or other essential oils such as lavender oil.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF USING TEA TREE OIL FOR LICE?
While often well tolerated, using tea tree oil for lice, does carry some risk. As is the case for other natural oils like lavender oil, tea tree oil can cause an allergic reaction or contact dermatitis on a healthy scalp. In addition, there are some studies that show that it may lead to abnormal breast growth in prepubescent boys. So is tea tree oil good for lice? Some experts say that tea tree oil for lice is completely safe, but we prefer olive oil for removing lice as it carries no risk or chance of irritation.
Choose LiceDoctors All Natural Treatment That Is Safe for Everyone!
Tea tree oil can not kill lice. It can be used to aid in lice treatment and can be used as an effective preventative, but this is not without some risk. When you call LiceDoctors, the treatment your technician will perform on you is all-natural and safe for everyone – even babies and breastfeeding women! We can get rid of your itching today safely and naturally. Call us at 800-224-2537 to find out why families have been trusting us for more than 20 years to treat more than 600,000 cases of head lice successfully. Technicians are available 365 days and nights a year – this includes weekends and holidays! Book an appointment today.