Head Lice – Natural Treatment and Prevention with Tea Tree Essential Oil

Head Lice – Natural Treatment and Prevention with Tea Tree Essential Oil

Something almost every family deals with at some point is head lice – an extremely common and highly transmissible problem, especially among kids congregating in school, daycare and summer camps. These tiny insects feed on blood from the scalp – and while they don’t carry any bacterial or viral illnesses with them, they can cause itchiness and be persistent as they reproduce easily, laying eggs that stick to the hair shaft.

Despite what some may believe, head lice are not an issue of cleanliness. No amount of cleaning reduces the risk or aids in treatment, according to the Canadian Paediatric Society Caring for Kids website. 

In recent years, cases of lice have increased because of growing resistance to commonly used insecticides like pyrethrin – an insecticide – that can sometimes make the scalp itchy or can leave a mild burning feeling . A 2009 clinical trial of isopropyl myristate/ cyclomethicone solution (a non-insecticide treatment) demonstrated an 82% response rate versus only a 19.3% response with pyrethrin, but it important to note that non-insecticide treatments are usually more expensive and often cannot be used on very young children (under 4).

When it comes to natural solutions for head lice, tea tree oil can be a very effective lice-killing agent. When tested ex vivo (in a petri dish), it was found to cause a 100% mortality in lice after 30 minutes, when lice are submerged in a 1% solution. While the ovicidal (egg-killing) property is not as good, with tea tree oil taking 5 days to cause a 50% kill rate, louse eggs hatch in 5-8 days, so prolonged use of tea tree oil over the course of 2 weeks could be an effective eradication measure.

Like many health issues – prevention is easier than cure with head lice. A simple and reliable approach to avoiding head lice is to simply:

  • Add 1-2% Tea Tree Oil to a liquid coconut oil (a combination of Medium Chain Triglyceride oil and Coconut oil)
  • Apply to the scalp nightly at bedtime.


Tip: use a shower cap and/or towel to protect the pillow.

  • Add 1-2% Tea tree oil to shampoo and use this each morning to wash out the oil mixture.
  • Repeat nightly for 2 weeks.

Make sure to wash your sheets and pillowcases frequently, drying them on the high temperature setting.

Tea Tree Oil | Huile d'arbre a the

Our Tea Tree essential oil is steam-distilled and certified organic for the best in purity and potency. It can be used for many purposes, due to its natural antimicrobial and antifungal properties that can easily be incorporated into body care. Some other uses include:

  • Adding a drop to your everyday toothpaste to help treat minor teeth and gum infections.
  • Treating nail fungus, by combining with a carrier oil and applying to the nail before bedtime.
  • Applying as a useful spot treatment for acne breakouts.
  • Adding a few drops to rinsing water to relieve itchy, flaky scalp.

Tea tree oil makes for an excellent addition to your family’s therapeutic body care kit – and when used to target head lice, it offers a practical and effective solution to this common problem – courtesy of Mother Nature.  

Learn more about how plant medicines can help with common skin, hair and first aid issues on our blog!

Natural, Herbal, Therapeutic Body Care for The Whole Family.

References available upon request.

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