This home remedy has gotten us into a lot of trouble.

In recent years lice have seemingly become resistant to over-the-counter lice shampoos, which has left families desperate for relief.

One mother wrote that a pediatric dermatologist, Neil Prose, M.D., at Duke University Medical Center, had suggested smearing the hair and scalp with petroleum jelly at bedtime, covering with a shower cap, and removing the Vaseline in the morning.

The lice were gone, but removing the Vaseline was easier said than done!

We were inundated with complaints from parents upset about the difficulty of this chore. Suggestions for removal ranged from Dawn dishwashing liquid to Wisk laundry detergent to cornstarch and Goop (used by auto mechanics to clean hands).

An easier solution to recalcitrant lice may be HairClean 1-2-3. It contains essential oils of coconut, ylang-ylang, and anise.

One dermatologist in Key West, Florida, told her colleagues, “The lice were running off their heads like clowns out of a Volkswagen!”

** “New Development in Head Lice Treatment.” Dr. Greene’s House Calls: Pediatric News. May 1998.

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  1. Alyssa

    Ok, Petroleum Jelly/Vaseline works wonders, seriously.

    My two little girls have very thick hair (like REALLLLLLY thick hair) and when they got lice, it got pretty bad. I tried shampoos, mayonnaise, olive oil and combs and nothing would work. So the jelly you can buy at the dollar store, and basically all you do is spread throughout child’s head including scalp, I didn’t know you had to leave it in for 8 hours, so I only left it in for ONE HOUR, and then combed (kinda messy but worth it) the lice right out of the hair, then washed their hair really well afterwards.

    This literally took every lice out and they have not come back (3 yrs ago). Make sure to of course, wash the blankets, sheets, pillows, and vacuum really well, especially where the child might have rested their head. I hope this helps! It really helped me, and I was soooo overwhelmed by this problem at the time. Good luck.

  2. jb

    I have had lice for 5 weeks that I know of. But before that time I used to put henna packs in my hair twice a week for several hours then a vigorous blow dry. I think this was keeping them under the radar.
    I have tried practically everything including coconut oil in my hair for two days. I just tried nitnanny products 40$ …they were noticeably back in 30 hrs. my scalp feels sandy and I’m so horrified and embarrassed. I’m avoiding friends and cringing. Is the sand on my scalp eggs?
    I’m waiting for the weekend to try the vaseline/baby oil treatment. The airalle people are very far away. I don’t have a car and I don’t think they have an office. They only do in home. Frankly, I don’t know what else to do. Neem oil, coconut, listerine, heavy daily blowdry, ginger oil, peppermint oil, nitnanny, licemd …raid….this seems like most treatments to be very personal. Some things work for some people and not for others. So many variables.
    I think I was infected at the ymca. I have now recognized evidence on their work out floor matts, now that I know what to look for,that is., I’m over 50 and don’t have kids. I am not the demographic. If I didn’t have to leave the house I would stay in indefinitely.

  3. mm

    I am so embarressed by this I got lice from my daughter who got it when we went to the bahamas. All the girls were getting their hair braided and my daughter wanted it to so we did it. Biggest regret ever. We have never had to deal with this before.
    I did the rid treatment on my daughter3 times and had to pick everything out and it worked. She is lice free so far but I seem not to be able to get rid of it. I have been battling for about a month now and have done 5 treatments and I haven’t gotten rid of them. I am so upset I am crying about it. I am now trying the Vaseline trick and I really hope this works it is so hard to hide it from people.
    If anyone has any suggestions please let me know thanx

    • Blondie

      Mm, I hear you! My granddaughter got them at school and gave them to my daughter and me and her brothers, and we have had them like five times in the past five years. My daughter does different things including Listerine and nit picking, I always relied on vegetable oil and vinegar and two spoons of tea tree oil, two hours. It used to work, I thought, and I used mayo and vinegar on a boyfriend and it seemed to get the nits off him! This time, four mouths and nothing is working! Maybe because I used rid about a day before or after the oil and vinegar maybe?

      Since no one could nit pick for me I’d grab the rid but still itch and worry about nits so I’d sit with the runny vegetable oil and vinegar on my head for two hours and combed a lot with a metal nit comb. Then use tea tree mint shampoo and conditioner for awhile and comb every day, maybe do some hair oil with tea tree in it for an hour too, washes out easier, and they’d seem to be gone in a week or two! Now we did everything including rubbing alcohol that burned and dulled hair until I added some baby oil and left in 20 minutes. I’d comb all dead bugs off them, but they would come back! Same thing with mayo and apple cider vinegar with some tea tree oil on them for two hours, I’d comb off and swear they were clean and trust I was. My daughter maybe found a few nits she picked off. But they came back! She moved out again and says she got rid of them using other things, then Vaseline. But Idk how she got it out!

      I was afraid of Listerine two hours on my color treated hair, and was afraid it wouldn’t work anyway! And two people recommended black hair and scalp conditioners with petrolatum. I resorted to trying that because, to my great relief, Denorex shampoo with coal tar killed many bugs quickly and easily, but slightly stained my hair. I was bad, left it in ten minutes, not safe! It has a cancer warning for tar in California (for large amounts of course.) I’m sure exaggerated but you need to keep using every few days for lice babies for three weeks. It doesn’t kill nits.

      Other people use T gel it has less tar, safer on kids probably. You are not to leave them on, just wash twice. You need sunscreen for a day after Denorex. They said the Africa’s best Supergroconditioner and BB brand works once overnight, so I tried it! Well, it took me 17x to wash it out! And I rubbed vinegar in it half way through! But the worst part is, I itch a little! But I have to keep checking by combing over the sink to look for new babies, which are black specks. Though some may be dead. Not in two days though or if I itch and have them!

      I check every day by combing over the sink to see if lice babies fall off. I’ve had nothing but babies for over a month, no adults, so how I still have any, idk! I even used the electric Nix comb once or twice every day for two weeks! Still had them. I’m sure it helps a bit though. Gonna keep using it. Hopefully it works eventually. And I’m gonna keep using the Denorex for a month! You can maybe dilute it for kids or call. There’s no warning. Or try t gel with tar. Every few days.

      Now, many people love the Listerine for two hours. Some don’t. Some say, 3 minutes, others 20, others two hours! I suppose comb through in an hour and see what comes off. Or rinse in a plugged tub to check for live ones. Two hours may be best. If I ever do it I’m adding two spoons of hair olive oil or tea tree for moisture or baby oil with aloe. But seems that afterward you should rinse and towel dry hair, and spray on half water half vinegar for a half hour to an hour or two, for any missed nits or bugs.

      Some people do two hours of Listerine and two hours of vinegar on wet hair and say they are cured! Now, vinegar and water, half and half on damp hair or straight on wet hair will make hair shiny, but clarifies and stings a bit, so simply rinse and deep condition after for a few minutes. Diluted in half won’t hurt hair. And washes so no need to shampoo!

      So now I’m down to just a few treatments I can recommend:
      Original Listerine capped for two hours, rinse, towel dry, pour or spray on half water and half vinegar and leave in another hour or two, comb out nits, rinse and deep condition.
      Or, Denorex shampoo with tar every few days for three weeks, or t gel shampoo with tar, not as strong. The stubborn itch has menthol. Ask a doctor or call about small children. I thnk they might eventually be all gone with Denorex, just use sunscreen. I’m fair and didn’t burn. May stain slightly. A spoon of vinegar in a cup of water for a minute and rinsing helps remove, or hot oil treatments.

      Using Rid but oil and vinegar two hours the next day for nits. Stings a bit and is very runny! Have paper towels ready! Maybe leave hang with a towel over shoulders instead of capping. Keep out of eyes. Apple cider vinegar is milder. Olive oil is thicker than vegetable and runs less. But I liked it better with vegetable oil I think . Wash 3x and condition. Comb off all the nits and bugs for it to work!

      Bedding goes in dryer on high. No need to keep washing! Spray furniture with alcohol and soak comb in it. Comb every day for two weeks or more. Use the electric comb daily for three weeks if you can .

      One more treatment that works very well if you do it exactly!:
      Cetaphil face wash. Apply with a tint squeeze bottle, small sections to scalp and over lap. Then coat hair. Comb off the excess and wipe in tissues. Dispose in a plastic bag. Dry hair fully with a blow dryer. It takes time! You can pause for a minute but leave no damp spots! ALL the way dry to seal the buggers! Cap and sleep in it. Shampoo out in the morning and use a moisturizing conditioner. It’s mild, doesn’t lather. But you should condition. I think any sleeping in mayo or oil treatment must be followed by either massaging in vinegar for the last half hour for nits, before washing, or the half water half vinegar left in an hour to 2 hours after washing and towel drying, (or pour on straight on wet hair, wring out, leave in an hour or two), then comb and rinse off. And condition. With coconut oil, apple cider vinegar can be applied first and left dried on, then the coconut oil put on top and left in all night or day.

      Lastly, two people said two garlic tablets made them leave!’ One is a nurse. I’m doing that next if I still itch or comb any babies off! Petroleum is too hard to wash out and probably doesn’t work on nits! Maybe I’ll just spray some vinegar and water on till it dries, since I did that African hair grow with petroleum last night!! Itch a bit. It will get any nits off. Good luck!

    • Jen

      you can use all of that stuff and they will still return unless you remove the nits after you remove the lice. Ask someone you trust to help. Use the Lice shampoo, follow directions and ask someone to use a nit comb to remove all eggs.

      You can also smother your head in vaseline for a day or two. Ask someone to use the lice/nit comb to remove the lice and nits. This should be done a few days in a row. Wash the Vaseline out, then use vinegar to wash near your scalp and hair. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes wash out and use the comb to section and comb out the Nits( eggs). If any are left in your hair they will hatch again, this is why you need an additional person to help you. I would repeat the process a week or two later for any that may have been left behind.

  4. Christina

    So glad I am not the only one out here dealing with this issue. Not sure where we picked it up, but I think from a sleepover my kids had recently. I treated my children (5 of them) and myself yesterday (hubby was clear – lucky him) with an over-the-counter remedy. It seems to have worked well, but it took 6 hours to get through everyone and I was beyond exhausted by the time I was done. I talked to a couple of co-workers today (after getting to work late because I slept through my alarm) and one suggested the vaseline option. I thought, sure, why not, I will try just about anything to get rid of this. So, tonight my kids are getting doused in vaseline and I will try the baby oil and dawn soap to wash it out tomorrow. I pray this works like so many people have said. I just cannot think about having to do this over and over again. I am ready to throw out every stuffed animal, pillow and sheet we have and just start over. It is so frustrating. Good luck to all those out there battling with these horrible little pests.

  5. Chrissy

    I got lice from my lovely 6 year old sister while visiting my family last week. ICK. My head had been, itchy, but I hadn’t found anything till last night, and today I made my husband search my hair, and low and behold we found a couple teeny little lice….SO….I just COVERED my head in Vaseline…and covered it in a plastic bag…and I am going to leave it this way for 8 hours or so….just to be sure everyone is smothered….
    I had lice once before when I was about 5, and I remember my mother doing everything she could think of to get rid of them…I am really hoping this will work…but, in the even it doesn’t thank goodness you people have given me all types of tips. This is so embarrassing to have as an adult…WHAT AN AWFUL DAY…:[

  6. At my wits end!!

    I am battling this at the moment with my 7 yr old daughter. It’s been a month long battle and the school has a no nit policy so she has been missing way too much school over this. Every time I think we got rid of them I find newly hatched ones in her hair or the school is calling me to come get her. Her hair is VERY thick, long, and curly curly and the nurse tells me the only way to get rid of it for good is to pick them all out individually which seems nearly impossible considering her hair type and the fact that it’s blonde and they blend in. (Obviously I’ve tried without success) because a couple days later they’re are a few new baby ones. SOMEONE PLEASE HELP!! I have the Vaseline in her head now bc I’m to the point I’ll do anything but there has to be something that can kill those eggs. I’ve spent so much money and our family is already having financial problems at the moment so this is really driving me insane!! I’ve even tried straightening as close to scalp as possible after killing the adults and (thinking) that I’ve gotten all the nits.

  7. Cathy

    I am a hairdresser and have also experienced the lice drama with my own daughter. The Vaseline remedy does work if you leave it on over night but the trick is to use Selsun Blue Shampoo to wash it out. Nothing cuts the Vaseline like it!!!!

    • thelma

      I got lice from my grand-daughter about 5 weeks ago. She doesn’t have them anymore, but I can’t seem to get rid of them.I have tried everything on the counter. I had a friend call in prescription for perthrim and have treated 2 times with that. I went to doctor,got a script for dindane, didn’t work. I can still feel them crawling in head at night. I have saturated head with tea tree oil and covered with shower cap and slept in over night 3 times. I still have them! Nothing seems to work. I am considering getting a wig and shave head. I am sitting here with vinegar and shower cap on head. I have tried the mayonnaise thing, didn’t work. I am really depressed and crying a lot because nothing works. I am at an end, please if you have anything different please help me.

  8. Sue

    I used the vaseline during day for 8hrs gave the girls a movie day, when washing out I used alcohol for 30 secs then wash out then added lemon juice washed out in 30secs, had to wash their hair 3-4 times, found using hair straightener helps heaps as well. found 1 dead lice in hair, very happy mum, thx for advice.

  9. DAP

    I tried the vaseline remedy and was told by the doctor office to use baby oil to remove the vaseline, then rinse with dawn. So far, so good.

  10. Barbee

    We, my 6 year old daughter and I (I shaved my sons head) have had lice for about a week now. As soon as I noticed them, lord know how long we’ve had them, we have tried a store brand lice shampoo, RID, NIX, and LiceMD…they seem to kill the live lice but not the nits. Yesterday I coated my daughters hair in olive oil and left her hair in a shower cap for approx 5 hours.
    I bought a metal comb because her hair in so fine and the plastic ones that come with the kits ate worthless…and even the metal comb didn’t grab all the nits in her hair.
    Olive oil seemed to have killed the lice but not the nits…they were still very much glued to her hair. I’m going to go over her hair several times over the next few weeks in homes we will be lice free. I, myself, have Vaseline in my hair as we speak… it’s been almost 7 hours. I’m going to leave it all day and see what happens. * fingers crossed* every time I think we got em… they come right back. And I can tell you… being pregnant and having to deal with lice makes it insanely hard to fight back the tears. Good luck to us all!!

  11. EVW

    I tried Vaseline several times with my children and I concluded that is DOES NOT WORK! It makes a big greasy mess that requires shampooing their hair multiple times. The grease from the vaseline stayed for about 3 or 4 days and just made us all frustrated.
    What I found that works is using a lice product followed by applying a regular conditioner (apply and rinse) because the lice shampoo dries out the hair. Then, “nit picking”… basically handpicking out the nits (eggs) every day. If you don’t pick out the nits, the lice will return, independent of what remedy you try.
    ANOTHER TIP: don’t wait 7 days to do the second washing. In 7 days, the nits have a chance to hatch and lice grow and possibly lay more eggs. I like to reapply the product about 5 days after the first washing. And then more nit picking!!! It is a pain but must be done.

  12. Karen D.

    I smothered my head in olive oil wrapped it in cling film and left on all day. Combed out with nit comb, washed and blow dry.
    It worked to remove adults but there are probably surviving eggs so I will repeat combing ever other day for a couple of weeks to remove any hatching lice. They have to mature before they can lay so hopefully by combing them out before they have chance to mature I can eventually eliminate them all.
    I would shave my head, but not a good look for an over fifty!
    My hair is going to be kept tied tightly back when the grandchildren visit from now on! Good luck to everyone fighting these horrid pests and thanks for all the posts, it’s reassuring to know I’m not alone.

  13. RM

    Well I tried Vaseline 3 years ago on all 3 of my kids and myself, and it did work. My daughter and I have really thick mexican hair, long too and it killed all the lice. I did do the rid first and cleaned out all nits and lice before slathering on the Vaseline. I saran wrapped my head after I put the Vaseline on, then the shower cap on top. I think I even ducked tapped the shower cap around our heads lol. I wanted them to DIE! lol
    I used baby oil to get it out of our hair. I rubbed it in before rinsing it and it came right out when I did rinse. Then I blow-dryed out the hair, rubbed dish washing soap in our dry hair and rinsed again and that got the baby oil out. And because I was being so thorough cause I didn’t want to go through the reinfestation horrors I read about online, I flat ironed our hair from as far up the root as possible and all the way down on our hair, to kill any remaining nits I may have missed.
    Of course I did all the obsessive cleaning as everyone else did. garbage bags of stuffed animals sealed tight for a month and I just tossed all pillows and went ahead and spent the extra cash on new ones.
    Sadly yesterday we all have lice again! This time I think it was from school but who knows where they come from! I’m horrified yet again and I sit here online doing more research again, with my Vaseline drenched head and my trusty shower cap. I hope this clears up as quickly as the first time! And that this is the last time we see it in our household again!….btw I also heard neem oil works and kills both lice and nits. If this Vaseline doesn’t work (God I hope it does!) I’m going to try the neem oil if I can find it!:)

  14. VR

    Much to my horror I found them in my 8yr old daughter’s hair this morning (I had them over and over when I was young – bad experiences with chemical products) slightly put off with the price and bad reviews of chemical products so decided to google….needless to say she is now Vaseline’d up in a shower cap after being combed with quite a few adults coming off her head. Fingers crossed!!

  15. hallie

    Thank you for this!!! We’re on month 3 of recurring lice infestations. I too have tried the nasty chemical treatments several times and THEY DO NOT WORK! When I discovered a big louse on my daughter’s part last night, I was ready to try anything. My sister in law insisted we do the vaseline treatment and my own search lead me to this site. I’m convinced. We’re all greased up now and it’s really not that bad. But I hear the rinse out is the hardest part. Still better than the smelly, toxic insecticide that I’ve been coating their heads with.
    Good luck everyone! You can do this. And you’re not alone… just read all of these comments and you’ll feel like it’s not a lost cause.

  16. LJ

    My pediatrician told me to put the Vaseline on and leave it on for NO FEWER than 4 hours. THEN, BLOW DRY THE STUFF DRY right on her hair. Then, wash it out using Dawn.

  17. gina

    I was worried the Vaseline would be difficult to get out of my hair but thanks to everyone’s input it was easy. I used a generous amount of olive oil and then dish soap, then rinsed and washed with my regular shampoo and conditioner and the Vaseline was completely gone. I did this cycle 2x. I was able to comb after the first washing too. And, I have extremely thick and lengthy hair. My hair was much longer until the lice decided to move in, forced me to cut my very long hair. :( I am going to do one more treatment with the Vaseline and hopefully the lice will be gone.
    Also, if you have had lice for a few months like I have, and have a tiresome scalp from all the combing, well, the Vaseline is quite soothing.

  18. Mommy of 3

    My sons brought home lice from the neighbours a few weekends ago and I used Resultzs. I prefer using non chemical treatments so today I tried Vaseline -because I still found lice yesterday. I left it on for nine hours or so then I rubbed baby oil on it and on top of that Tresemmes deep cleansing shampoo. Then I rinsed it all out and used the Tresemee shampoo again -worked great! Hardly any oily residue at all. For sure adding oil and shampoo to the dry Vaseline covered hair is what worked. Hopefully the lice will be gone now for good! Good luck!

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