Head Lice – Symptoms, Causes, Shampoos and Treatment

What is Head Lice?

Head Lice are parasites found on the human head. They are very small and blood-sucking insects. They feed on blood from the human scalp. Head lice don’t carry any bacterial or viral infections. An infestation of head lice is known as pediculosis capitis and mostly affects children’s. It is a very common problem with school children. They spread by personal contact such as touching head to an infected person’s head, sharing personal items (combs, hats, towels, etc.) with someone having head lice, etc.

head lice symptoms, causes, and treatment

Its symptoms include irritability, lice on the scalp, feeling of something crawling on the scalp, extreme itching, lice eggs on the hair shafts, etc. Numbers of home remedies are available for the treatment of head lice such as olive oil, coconut oil, garlic, neem oil, vinegar, etc. Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and prescription medicines are also available for proper treatment of head lice.

  1. Symptoms
  2. Causes
  3. Prevention
  4. Home Remedies
  5. Treatment Options
  6. Patients Queries
  7. Reference

Symptoms of Head Lice

  • Irritation on scalp
  • Extreme itching on the scalp, ear, and neck
  • The feeling of something crawling on scalp
  • Sores and scabs on your scalp from scratching
  • Lice eggs on the hair shafts
  • Irritability

head lice symptoms


  • Using any fabric item after the use by an infected person
  • Touching head to an infected person’s head
  • Sharing the personal items such as hair accessories, hats, scarves, combs, towels, etc. with someone having head lice
  • Using the bed which was previously used by an infected person


In most of the cases, it is not easy to prevent head lice. But with the help of few tips, it can be prevented. It includes:

  • Avoid head to head contact
  • Wash your hairs regularly
  • Maintain hygiene
  • Keep long hairs in braid or ponytail
  • Don’t share personal items such as combs, hats, brushes, etc with anyone.
  • Clean hair care items in hot water
  • Regular use of essential oils such as tree tea oil, olive oil, etc.
  • Wash bedding and other clothes in hot water
  • Vacuum floors and upholstered furniture

head lice causes

Home Remedies for Head Lice

1. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is one of the best home remedies for the treatment of lice. It suffocates the lice and prevents their eggs to get attached to the hair easily.

  • Warm up the coconut oil, massage it gently over the scalp and leave it for few minutes. Comb the hairs to remove lice and its eggs. Wash it off with shampoo. After the hair is dry, apply the warm coconut oil again in the scalp and leave it overnight. Comb the hair to remove lice and its egg, and rinse it.

head lice remedies

2. Garlic

Garlic helps to kill the lice by suffocating them because of its very strong fragrance.

  • Add 8-10 crushed garlic cloves and 2 tsp of lime juice. Blend it, make a paste and apply it thoroughly over the scalp. Leave it for few minutes and rinse it off with hot water.
  • Mix fresh garlic juice, green tea, lemon extract, cooking oil, little shampoo, and conditioner; and make a thick paste. Apply it thoroughly over the scalp and cover it with a shower cap for few minutes. Wash it off with normal shampoo. Repeat it once weekly for few months.

3. Tree Tea Oil

Tree tea oil is very effective in preventing hair lice infections because of its natural insecticide property.

  • Apply few drops of tree tea oil gently to the scalp and leave it overnight. Comb the hairs in the morning to remove dead lice and its eggs. Rinse it off with lukewarm water. Repeat it every night for few days.

4. Neem Oil

Neem oil is known to be very effective in killing the head lice. It blocks the air passage of lice and its eggs.

  • Mix few drops of neem oil to your shampoo. Use this mixture to rinse your hair and scalp. Use this neem oil infused shampoo regularly for few days for better results.

Treatment Options

There are so many treatments available for head lice. Some of the major treatments include:

Over-the-counter (OTC) Medications

  • Pyrethrin with additives (RID, A200, R&C, Triple X): Pyrethrins are natural extracts from chrysanthemum flowers. It should not be used by children less than 2 years of age. Avoid using pyrethrin if you are allergic to chrysanthemum.
  • Permethrin (Nix): Permethrins are similar to pyrethrins. It is approved to be used by children above 2 months of age.
  • Dimethicones (Hedrin, LiceMD, NYDA): These are the type of silicone oils. Dimethicones are considered non-toxic in humans and are highly effective in the treatment of lice.

head lice symptoms

Prescription Medications

These medicines are prescribed in case of OTC medicines treatment has failed. It includes:

  • Benzyl Alcohol (Ulesfia): Benzyl alcohol kills the lice by depriving them of oxygen. It is an aromatic alcohol. It is not approved to be used in children less than 6 months of age.
  • Malathion (Ovide): Malathion is high in alcohol content and should never be used near an open flame, hair dryers, etc. It is approved to be used in children more than 6 years of age. It is an organophosphate pesticide.
  • Spinosad (Natroba): It is very effective and expensive than OTC medications. It is ovicidal (kills the lice inside the egg) and pediculicidal (kills the live lice).
  • Lindane (Kwell): It is an organophosphate pesticide. It is usually used as a last option. It is toxic and usually not recommended as a treatment option for head lice in children.

Patients Queries

Can Hair dye kill Lice?
Yes, hair dye helps to kill the lice because of the chemical present in some of the hair dyes. Hair dyes can affect lice but it can’t affect eggs of lice; due to the chemicals, it cannot penetrate the eggshell of the head lice.

Can I use any normal Shampoo to remove Lice?
No, To remove head lice you will need specially medicated shampoo. Normal shampoos don’t have medicines or chemicals capable

Share your feedback about this post...