A 5 Step Safe and Natural Plan for Treating Head Lice

When Ariadne of Positive Parenting Connection offered to write a guest post about treating head lice naturally, I was thrilled! We get so many questions about the topic on our Facebook page, I knew it would be a welcomed piece by our fans!

Head lice can be a hassle and to some parents, it may be embarrassing or totally gross. When lice struck in our house last year (eek!) what worried me most wasn’t being embarrassed, but rather exposing my three young children to the neuro-toxins found in most of the commonly used treatments available at the pharmacy.

Permethrin is a pesticide and is the most widely used treatment for head lice. While permethrin is consider by regulating agencies to be an ‘OK’ risk, it is a highly toxic substance to both freshwater and estuarine aquatic organisms. What’s more, recent research and trials showed that it is not actually the most effective method for getting rid of lice.

An applied research study conducted in the UK (link to study here), released in 2010, compared the use of natural, oil based treatment to the permethrin based treatment and concluded that the natural alternative was more effective.

Concerned about the potential toxicity to my 19 month old, 3 year old and 5 year old, I spoke with my pediatrician. Since I was still nursing my little one, the doctor highly recommended that we avoid exposure to the Permethrin and so we agreed to try a very natural oil and vinegar based alternative that worked out very well for us. Here is what we did if you would like to give it a try:


Treating head lice and eggs naturally in 5 steps

Materials Needed:

  • Olive or Coconut Oil: Oil drowns the lice, making them unable to crawl around to deposit eggs.
  • White or Apple Cider Vinegar: The vinegar dissolves the ‘glue’ that the eggs use to attach to the hair.
  • Fine tooth comb: To properly comb out the lice and the eggs.
  • Shower caps: I found it easiest to have 2 for each head being treated / cloth is ok but might soak through.
  • Masking tape or hair pins: to fasten the shower caps completely closed.
  • Shampoo: A shampoo specifically made for prevention and treatment of lice is best. Most of them out there are toxic, but there is a great and effective one that’s not here: Lice Prevention Shampoo (Find under the HAIR CARE tab through the link). 
  • Towels: We used these to protect the children’s clothing from stains.

The 5 Steps

Step 1: I applied olive oil generously onto the hair and scalp of each child. I placed a shower cap on each and used a bit of masking tape to keep them really closed tight. We set a timer for 45 minutes and spent the time reading books, coloring and doing puzzles.

Step 2: After 45 minutes, we combed out the hair and picked out any lice; we were very lucky, only two or three on each head (phew!)

Step 3: Rinse hair with warm water and a dash of dish soap.

Step 4: Repeat step 1 but instead of oil now use vinegar. Wait 45-60 minutes.

Step 5: Comb hair out very carefully to pick away any eggs then rinse again, this time we used a nice shampoo, to get rid of the vinegar smell. That’s it, the hair is done.

Follow Up & Prevention

I recommend checking hair daily for at least 7 days after treatment and possibly repeating the process if there are many cases of lice at school or in the community.

After this experience I also learned a few preventative measures that we take whenever we hear of any cases of lice at school or in our community:

-In winter leave coats and hats in the car overnight; the freezing temps kill any stray crawlers.

-Apply Tea Tree Oil Spray on hair and neck area each morning during the lice ‘breakout’ alerts.

-Do a lice check every evening until break out seems to have passed.

Peace & Be Well,


Minolta DSCAriadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator, and has completed several graduate courses in Psychology and Family Counseling. Ariadne created the Positive Parenting Connection, a website dedicated to collecting and sharing resources, ideas, tips and helpful information with other parents that are striving to have connected, peaceful relationships with their children. Ariadne and her family currently live in Switzerland on top of a beautiful mountain with their spunky dog a blue fish. You can connect with Ariadne on Facebook.

About Raising Natural Kids

A mother of three looking to raise awareness about the everyday issues that parents face, focusing on raising children holistically.
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7 Responses to A 5 Step Safe and Natural Plan for Treating Head Lice

  1. Love your natural approach to lice removal however as a professional nit picker with Simple Head Lice Solutions I can make this way easier for you.

    1. Saturate the hair with a product of your choice. Coconut oil is great but really expensive. You can use any kind of oil or thick conditioner to saturate the hair to kill all of the live bugs. Lice can hold their breath for up to 2 hours so once you saturate the head with the product of your choice cover the heads with a shower cap and leave it on for 2 hours or more. You do not have to tape the cap just tie it in the back you’ll be fine!

    2. Comb the hair out with a fine tooth comb. The Nit Free Terminator comb is the best! Make sure you detangle the hair with your regular brush or comb. Then use your nit comb to remove all the nits and bugs possible. Make sure you literally scrape your scalp with the comb! If you are not keeping scalp contact with the teeth of the comb you will not remove all of the nits and you will get re-infested. This is sooo important I cannot stress it enough.

    3. Skip the vinegar!! It will only dry out your hair and make you stink! Trust me it does nothing to help with releasing the glue from the eggs your oil or conditioner treatment will do that for you.

    4. Continue combing daily with conditioner until no nits or bugs are found three consecutive days in a row, then repeat the entire treatment process in one week. If no nits or bugs are found then you are officially lice free. If you do pick up a few nits or a few bugs don’t panic you probably just missed a few and if you continue to comb again daily until no nits or bugs are found three consecutive days in a row you will be lice free.

  2. Pingback: Preventing Lice So that You Don’t Have to Deal With Them | RaisingNaturalKids

  3. Pingback: Preventing LIce So you dont have to deal with themRaising Natural Kids

  4. April says:

    I couldn’t find the shampoo as the link didn’t work for me. What is it? Thanks.

  5. Tina says:

    Apple Cider Vinegar will not dry out your hair! It is known to “condition” hair, making it soft and shiny. During the Great Depression this was a common product to use on your hair. My grandmother recommended it when we ran out of our regular commercial conditioner and it really does work.

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