Olive Oil Treatment Procedure for Head Lice


Head lice are extremely contagious, especially among children. These tiny, wingless insects lay their eggs or nits on individual hair strands. They can be very difficult to see, which makes removing them especially tricky. Although chemical-based shampoos are a popular means of lice removal, some parents would prefer a more natural way to remove lice. Olive oil has been touted as a great smothering agent by physicians and specialists, as it is proven to kill lice and make nit removal much easier.


Catching lice at their earliest stage can be crucial in treatment as infestation can occur rather quickly. If you do not see any actual bugs, identifying that lice are present can be difficult. Look for excessive head scratching and red irritations on the back of the neck. A buildup of dandruff can also be an indication that lice are looming. Do a thorough head check on your child, looking for tiny nits adhered to hair strands. Nits are tan colored and are the size of a crumb, so careful checking is imperative. Take extra time to look behind the ears and above the hairline of the neck as these are hot spots for egg laying.

Olive Oil & Lice

Doctors and specialists alike have been recommending the use of olive oil as an alternative treatment to combating lice for many years. An informal test was done by Harvard School of Public Health where researchers placed six lice bugs in olive oil, and six lice bugs in an empty container. After 2 hours, they found that the lice in the olive oil had perished, whereas the lice in the empty container lived for 18 hours. Although this was just a preliminary test, with no formal findings, many experts in the field believe olive oil to be an effective smothering agent, and have had great success in its treatment against head lice.


Because of its ability to smother lice, olive oil can be used in various ways to treat this stubborn condition. One treatment option is to liberally douse the hair with olive oil until it's saturated. Cover the head with a shower cap and allow the olive oil to sit for 8 hours. Sleeping with the olive oil is a good way to pass the time. Another option that does not require as much time is creating your own lice shampoo. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil and 1 teaspoon of eucalyptus oil to a small amount of regular shampoo. Leave the shampoo mix on your hair for 30 minutes under a shower cap. After either treatment, wash hair thoroughly to remove all traces of the olive oil. Be aware that it may take a few shampoos to accomplish this.


The next crucial step in treating the lice is nit removal. The most practical way to accomplish this is through combing. This process may seem daunting, but it is the most important part of the treatment, and should be done correctly in order to be effective. Combing while the hair is wet will make the removal much easier. This can be accomplished while the olive oil treatment is still in the hair, or after rinsing it out. Before beginning to comb, it's helpful to separate the hair into sections. Use a lice comb or any comb whose teeth are close together, and carefully comb through. After each stroke, rinse the comb out in a cup of water. This process will allow you to see if you are removing the nits. If you see small, brown dots floating in the cup, then you are successful.

Following Up

Proper followup treatment is crucial with lice. Because of the insects' cyclical nature of constantly laying eggs, it is imperative to remove every last nit. If the quantity of nits that you see in your cup does not seem to be decreasing after each comb-through, repeat the olive oil treatment. Combing is an integral part of the procedure. Be sure to follow up with daily comb-throughs up to one week after an outbreak. Your goal is to have a clear cup of water with no nits after a comb-through.

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