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Tea Tree Oil and Head Lice

There are lots of home remedies out there.  Just check the internet but how many work?  Let’s talk tea tree oil and head lice.  We have had many clients say they have used this because they didn’t want to use drug store products.  It is great that they were trying to avoid using products that just don’t work and can be harmful to your family.   The bottom line is tea tree oil just doesn’t work for treating head lice.

Also known as Melaleuca alternifolia has been used for head lice over the years.  Many people have said using this works in treating head lice.  Yes, it does play a role in prevention but not in the treatment of lice.

It is important to realize the difference between a treatment and prevention.   If you have lice and use tea tree oil the lice will not leave your head because they don’t like the scent.   It does not have anything in it to work as a smothering agent.  People will apply it and leave it on thinking it will suffocate the lice.  This is not the case and it does nothing to get rid of lice and eggs.

The active lice fighting ingredient that is tea tree oil and the lice have built a resistance.  This is because lice have built a resistance to common insecticides such as permethrin which is in various products you can purchase from the drug store.

Does it work as a preventative? The answer is yes.  Mixing tree oil with water and spritzing on your childs when there is an outbreak at school,  daycare or camp does help.  Though you do have to remember nothing is 100% but it is a scent that the lice don’t like.  Some people put it in shampoo or buy tea tree oil shampoo.  This is a waste of money as when you rinse the hair the scent goes down the drain.  A scent will last up to six hours, so you want to spritz your childs head, coat and backpack just before they head out the door.

Please note that tea tree oil is poisonous and must be diluted for use.  If you are looking for an alternative to make your own preventative use mint or lavender oil.  It is important to check weekly so that if your child does get head lice you will be able to take care of it quickly.  Not sure your child has lice?  Lice Services Canada can help.   Call 613-482-1432.

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