A. Coconut Oil Lice Treatment: Is It Effective?
Our goal as “lice appeasers” is to have as many tools in your arsenal as possible to prevent and treat head lice. In recent articles, we’ve discussed the dos and don’ts of home remedies, identifying helpful solutions (tea tree oil) and those that are simply dangerous (mayonnaise in a plastic bag).
1. The Rundown
On a scale from “useless jumbo mumbo” to “hey, it really works”, coconut oil is somewhere in between. In a clinical study conducted by the Center for Medical Entomology in the UK, researchers found that a combination of anise spray and coconut oil outperformed traditional over-the-counter chemicals used to treat head lice, particularly permethrin lotion. Of 50 patients, 41% were cured with this combination, while only 23% were cured with permethrin lotion.
a. This should come as no surprise for two reasons
First, the decline in the effectiveness of permethrin as an independent treatment for head lice is well documented. As a pesticide, it is natural for head lice to eventually create immunity that makes them less susceptible to treatment (we call this the “lice circle”). Once these so-called “super lice” have become more resistant to insecticides, the effectiveness of chemicals (eg permethrin) has significantly decreased.
The second reason is a little less obvious. Coconut oil itself acts similarly to mayonnaise, olive oil, and most other oil-based solutions that rely on its viscosity to smother the lice and break the bonds. We prefer it to these other methods only because it provides your hair with nutrients that other concentrates don’t. But what makes the treatment in the study so effective is not necessarily the coconut oil, but the aniseed oil that it was mixed with. In a previous post, we discussed the valuable role that essential oils (such as tea tree oil) can play, as can aniseed oil.
2. What Next?
Before you go to your local pharmacy and buy aniseed oil, remember that tea tree oil, a much more common and available essential oil, is even more effective. In fact, we use tea tree oil as an active ingredient in our head lice treatment products and we highly recommend it as a preventative solution.
a. Proper treatment for head lice is a simple process
- Apply a binding agent – it could be coconut oil or Nit Zapping™ Clenz Cream. This will help loosen the lice from the hair and may also help to smother some of the active lice.
- Mix with essential oils – tea tree oil or aniseed oil works well (Note: skip this step if using our Nit-Zapping™ Clenz Cream. It has just the right amount of pre-mixed tea tree oil; no addition!)
- Leave for a few hours, then comb the lice and pick up the nits. This is the most important step – be sure to buy a special head lice comb for this – regular combs are not fine or strong enough to comb active lice.
- Wash your hair with a cleansing shampoo. Again, there is no need to add harmful chemicals; a shampoo with lots of essential oils works great!
- Repeat as needed.
3. The difference between hair fairies
There is no substitute for good old-fashioned combing and nit picking. Hair Fairies has been the leader in manual removal for nearly 20 years, and this has proven to be the most effective treatment option for head lice. Chemicals come and go, and the number of oil-based compounds you can apply to your scalp is unlimited, but at the end of the day there’s nothing quite like having a professionally qualified comb and cleaning up your problems.
B. Does Coconut Oil Work Against Lice?
Thanks to the proliferation of online blogs, do-it-yourself solutions and home remedies are becoming increasingly popular for treating head lice. Many parents want to save money and, at the same time, get rid of lice in their children or their home. Unfortunately, despite what you’ve read online, most of these natural home remedies don’t solve any type of head lice infestation. The latest method: coconut oil. Is coconut oil effective in fighting head lice? Let’s dive into the home remedy and determine whether or not coconut oil is worth your time.
1. Coconut oil against lice
If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to deal with head lice, you already know that several home remedies are advertised on the internet. From extreme heat to mayonnaise, these methods work wonders, according to bloggers. But they are not professionals. Many have ulterior motives, like getting you to buy their product line or signing up for a monthly newsletter with special offers. The reality is that nothing but professional treatment is totally effective in fighting head lice.
This is not to say that coconut oil is completely useless. Most head lice can hold their breath for four or more hours. Therefore, adult lice do not die in coconut oil. However, the viscosity of coconut oil makes it much easier to comb adult lice. Head lice get sticky and slow in the mix and don’t move as fast to hide. Therefore, when combing at home, a little coconut oil on the scalp can make the task easier. However, don’t expect coconut oil to stop a head lice infestation, it just won’t happen.
2. Coconut Oil Risks
Believe it or not, there are risks associated with using coconut oil to treat head lice. There is a small chance that you or your child are allergic to coconut oil. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you do some tests on your arm or leg before applying any amount of coconut oil to your scalp. If coconut oil is causing an allergic reaction, avoid using it on your head.
3. Trust head lice lifters for guaranteed head lice treatment
Overall, coconut oil is good for slowing down lice to a comb, however it is not a tried and true home remedy. The only surefire way to stop head lice is through professional lice treatment. Lice Lifters experts use non-toxic treatment solutions and proven techniques to rid your scalp of head lice once and for all. These methods work with only one treatment. There are no after-care appointments in the office, no dirty oils to apply, and no guesswork.
C. Coconut Oil for Lice
Coconut oil has received attention as a possible treatment for head lice. Head lice are tiny blood-sucking insects that live and lay eggs on your scalp. They cause itchiness and irritation and, if left untreated, can lead to minor complications. Head lice are also extremely contagious.
The lauric acid in coconut oil can help kill head lice. This treatment is not as effective as other over-the-counter (OTC) treatments for head lice, but it is less toxic to your body. Coconut oil may be a viable option for people who cannot tolerate the strongest treatments. Keep reading to learn more about how to treat head lice with coconut oil.
1. How to use coconut oil against head lice
If you want to try coconut oil for head lice, you’ll need a plastic shower cap, enough coconut oil to completely cover your hair, and a fine-tooth comb. You may need to repeat this treatment more than once. Start by rinsing your hair with hot water and letting it air dry. Coconut oil should be at room temperature or slightly above so that it is in a liquid form and can be easily distributed through the hair. Gently massage coconut oil into the hair and immediately apply the plastic shower cap. Leave the lid on for eight hours (or more) to smother the lice.
Use the fine-tooth comb to carefully examine your hair and comb any dead lice and any nits (eggs) you find. It is important that you take your time and be careful with this step. Leaving eggs in hair can lead to subsequent infestations. If you continue to get head lice after three or four uses of this treatment, consider using an over-the-counter or prescription drug to treat head lice.
2. Does coconut oil work against head lice?
There is promising research on how coconut oil can treat head lice. This is especially good news as some lice are becoming resistant to more traditional Western treatments such as permethrin. A study done in Brazil found that coconut oil was more effective than some more aggressive chemical treatments. Another study in England found that a spray of coconut oil and aniseed oil was an effective treatment for head lice. A product containing aniseed oil and coconut oil was described in 2002 as “extremely effective” with few or no side effects.
But even with these studies, we don’t know much about using coconut oil to treat head lice. If after three or four treatments you’ve tried natural remedies to get rid of head lice and it still doesn’t work, it’s time to call your doctor and discuss other options.
3. Possible Risks and Side Effects of Coconut Oil
One of the main reasons people use coconut oil to treat head lice is the relatively low probability of side effects. As long as you are not allergic to coconut oil, there is no risk associated with topical coconut oil. It is probably safe when applied to the skin, even in large amounts. Before trying to treat head lice in this way, spot test a small section of your skin with a thick application of coconut oil to see if it is causing an allergic reaction.
4. Other remedies for head lice
Although coconut oil can kill lice, it cannot completely kill the nits the lice have in their hair. You might consider rinsing your hair with apple cider vinegar before applying a coconut oil lice treatment. Some essential oils have been tested to treat head lice. Anise, cinnamon leaves and tea tree oil have shown promising results. Mixing a few drops of one of these essential oils into coconut oil can help kill lice and neutralize their eggs.
Using coconut oil to treat head lice is not a tried and true home remedy. There’s a good chance this remedy will work with the addition of apple cider vinegar, some essential oils, and a little patience if you want to repeat it over and over again. But if head lice don’t go away after repeated use, don’t try anymore. It is possible that this remedy does not work for some people. Talk to your doctor about the least toxic and most effective ways to treat head lice.