Alternative Lice Treatments

Head lice, tiny parasitic insects that feed on blood from the scalp, spread easily through head-to-head contact and affect school-age children most frequently. Many over-the-counter and prescription medications can eliminate lice, although alternative treatments are also an option. Regardless of the method, you’ll also have to take necessary precautions around the home to prevent lice from recurring, such as washing bedding, cleaning brushes and combs and vacuuming carpets and furniture thoroughly, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil, a strong herbal disinfectant, may help get rid of head lice naturally. In her book “Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child,” Janet Zand recommends adding 25 drops of tea tree oil to 1 pint of distilled water. Rub the mixture into the hair and scalp three times a day for the best results. Comb the hair with a fine-toothed comb after applying to remove dead lice and eggs from the hair shaft. Wash the hair with tea tree oil shampoo after the third application and combing. If you don’t have access to tea tree oil shampoo, make your own by adding 10 to 15 drops tea tree oil to 8 oz. of your regular shampoo. Repeat daily until the infestation subsides, which may take several days.

Anise Seed Oil

Anise seed oil contains antimicrobial properties that may help get rid of head lice. A study published in the “European Journal of Pediatrics” (January 2010), found that a spray containing anise seed oil and coconut worked better than permethrin, a common pesticide used to kill lice. In her book “Gentle Healing for Baby and Child,” Andrea Candee recommends combining 1 tbsp. anise seed oil with 2 tbsp. olive oil and rubbing into the hair and scalp. The olive oil smothers and kills lice, and interferes with their cellular metabolism. After applying, comb through the hair with a metal lice comb, and then wash and rinse thoroughly. Repeat the process twice daily until no more lice remain.

Mayonnaise and Vinegar

Mayonnaise and vinegar may help kill head lice, according to Joey Green in his book, “Joey Green’s Amazing Kitchen Cures.” Green recommends saturating the hair in a thick coat of mayonnaise. The olive oil in the mayonnaise smothers the lice and promotes easier removal of eggs from the hair shaft. After applying, wrap the hair in plastic wrap or cover with a shower cap. Allow the mayonnaise to remain for at least two hours, and then rinse the hair with white distilled vinegar. Follow with a warm water rinse. Use a metal lice comb to work through the hair, removing dead lice and their eggs. Repeat one week later for the best results.