child with lice, treat lice, olive oil to overcome lice,

Head lice are not particularly dangerous, but they are extremely unpleasant. When they persist despite multiple treatments, people may become very frustrated. Some parents are concerned about having to use insecticides repeatedly. As lice develop resistance to commonly used pesticides, however, parents may need to treat children time after time to try to eradicate the lice. Can you use olive oil to overcome lice?

Using Olive Oil to Overcome Lice:

Q. Years ago, my oldest child had head lice and I was completely unfamiliar with the situation and the best treatment. As a result, I went the chemical route and spent a fortune on nasty, stinky chemicals which eventually worked.

Years later, when my youngest contracted the nasty critters, I had learned a quicker, cheaper and far healthier alternative which was totally successful. I coated the hair very liberally with olive oil, massaging it through and through. Then I put a tight shower cap on the kid and put a towel on the pillow before she went to bed. In the morning, all the creepies had suffocated and the hair was very nicely conditioned! I had to shampoo her hair several times until we got all of the oil out, but it worked like a charm!

Home Remedies for Fighting Lice:

A. People have been looking for home remedies to treat lice because many of the OTC insecticidal shampoos have lost effectiveness. Lice can be smothered with mineral oil or petroleum jelly (Wolf et al, PLOS One, June 10, 2016). Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser can also be used to suffocate lice.

Olive oil has not been shown to be as effective, though one study reported that an olive-oil based soap was roughly 76 percent effective in killing lice (Soler et al, Semergen, March, 2017).  All suffocation methods require retreatment after a week since they don’t always kill lice eggs (nits). Retreating kills the lice who hatch from those eggs, preferably before they have a chance to lay eggs themselves.

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  1. phyllis h

    I had a childcare and 2 girls had continual lice so I fixed an essential oil mix of lavender oil, tea tea oil etc. to kill the lice in a cheap soap and it worked everytime

  2. TONY C

    In my youth, I was at an agricultural boarding school and was the only kid there that did not have head lice… Because before I went out to do the farm chores I stopped at the kitchen and got some lard to slick my hair back and at night I washed it out!!! It surprised the barber when after six months I finally took a day off just the get a haircut!!!

  3. david

    How does olive oil work? There is a little more evidence that olive oil in the diet works against diabetes and to promote longevity because of the polyphenols. Polyunsaturated fats are not very reactive chemicals. Any other oily vehicle might work just as well for killing lice. There are articles online that say that olive oil is an insect repellent. Olive oil could be used as a vehicle with other sources of polyphenols, like cinnamon oil, tea tree oil, etc to repel insects.

    More research is needed. Will olive oil kill the aphids on my basil?

    • Patty

      David, Though the olive oil will probably kill the aphids, using it undiluted may also kill the plant. Leaves need to breathe, and a coating of undiluted oil will likely smother them. I’d find a food-safe insecticide oil already mixed. Even the big box home stores now carry products that are essential oil based and non-toxic for use in vegetable gardens. You can probably find a recipe online for making your own as well. Yes, you can use olive oil in it, but it must be combined with other ingredients to disperse it properly, in addtion to preventing it from smothering leaves. Just mixing oil and water may not work. It may require some food safe soap.

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