This year I heard about drug-resistant lice, and (after I finished thinking my head was itching -- scratch, scratch), I started thinking about and searching for lice prevention spray and lice treatment spray on the internet. And I found that it is pretty easy to make it yourself.
Thankfully, I have never had to personally deal with lice, but every once in awhile I hear about outbreaks, and a few times friends of mine have had to "de lice" their homes, and it is a complete nightmare.
Getting rid of lice is not fun.
Just think of having to:
- wash EVERYTHING in your home
- comb painstakingly through your kids' (and your) hair with a fine toothed comb (so you probably are going to lose a lot of hair too in the process)
- wash and/or freeze all bed linens, stuffed animals, helmets, etc., and
- deep clean carpets and furniture (note that some sites say that you should do this while the CDC says it isn't necessary. At least make sure not to sit somewhere someone with active lice has just been.
Some people even recommend using Bleach and Lysol! Ick. I really really don't ever want to use that on my head or on my kids' heads.
In this case, for sure, prevention is key.
Now you could go around and just be nervous about lice all the time, but when you have something as natural as essential oils that can do the job for you, and they smell good too, why not use them?
We homeschool, so the lice threat is not as big of a problem for us, but we are not immune.
You can use this spray as part of your natural lice treatment plan, of course, but using it as a prevention method is for sure the way to go.
Now, there are a lot of DIY lice treatment sprays on the internet, and I didn't want to just slap something together without knowing it would work.
So I dug around and found some great information on why and how well these essential oils really do work against these pesky buggers-- and then made up my recipes from there.
Do Essential Oils Work as Natural Lice Treatment?
Some say these essential oils work to prevent lice because they mask the human scent that lice are attracted to.
Essential oils are also rich in what are called monoterpenes, chemical compounds with various several beneficial characteristics including, in the case of tea tree oil, insecticidal properties. In fact, the two main constituents of tea tree oil, 1,8-cineole and terpinen-4-ol, have demonstrated anticholinesterase activity.
Cholinesterase (ko-li-nes-ter-ace) is one of the many important enzymes needed for the proper functioning of the nervous systems of insects, (as well as humans and other vertebrates), so when you use these small amounts of oils on small insects, they take action on their nervous system and kill them.
And, there is evidence (yes, real scientific evidence) that these oils really do kill the lice.
Studies on Essential Oils Treatment for Lice:
#1: Tea Tree Oil: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3480584/
At 1% concentration, tea tree oil killed 100% of head lice after 30 minutes.
#2: Lavender and Tea Tree Oils: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20727129
97.6% of lice were dead using these essential oils, compared to only 25% were dead from using chemical treatments.
#3: Anise and Ylang Ylang Oils: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12389342/
92% success rate against head lice.
Many of the other spray recipes on the internet use oils like:
but I am going to stay with what what's proven to work. Of course, you are welcome to mix and match as you prefer.
And I'm only sharing the #1 and #2 options as they were the most effective, plus they have oils that you are more likely to have around the house, and anise oil is a little hard to come by.
The #2 version with lavender will smell better, which I would personally choose. But then again, if we're talking lice, I might just use the tea tree straight and deal with it!!
If you missed my series on how I chose the essential oils company referred to above, you can go here to find out, or skip to the end of the series here. However, there is a lots of great stuff in between that you won't want to miss :).
An extra benefit from this spray is that it won't stink of harmful chemicals like some of the more toxic options.
Essential oils really do smell lovely. Just the other day a friend emailed to ask me what "scent" I wear. It was a therapeutic blend that I have been using and diffusing at night. A remedy that doubles as a perfume (without all the nasty fragrances) - nice!
Tea Tree Oil Safety
For children under 10 years, use only a 1% dilution rate to a 2% dilution rate of tea tree oil and for children 2+ this oil should only be used "as needed".
For adults, do not go above a 5% dilution rate.
Homemade Lice Prevention Spray
1 ounce water (preferably filtered - see How to Make Your Water Safe)
1 ounce vodka
12-20 drops of tea tree oil (or other essential oils of choice)
Quality Spray Bottle - this kind of plastic spray bottle is likely a good option as well.
(12 drops is the equivalent of a 1% solution, which was 100% effective in the study cited above)
Blend the above solutions in the spray bottle and spray on hair to coat.
No need to shampoo out.
To Prevent Lice: Spray on hair daily in the morning and/or at night. Work through entire head of hair.
To Remove Lice: Spray on hair at night and comb through dampened hair with a fine toothed comb in the morning.
Notes on Lavender: Hungarian Lavender has a sweet scent, and Bulgarian Lavender has a more herbaceous scent. So choose according to your desire.
Don't feel like DIYing Your Own Lice Prevention Spray?
I know that sometimes time is of the essence.
If you just don't have time to make this spray, or you prefer to shop for some reason, this lice prevention spray is a natural option that has great reviews:
Either way, hope you can keep the little buggers at bay!
Have you had lice?
What did you do to get rid of them?