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Using Tea Tree Oil to Eliminate Head Lice - Exploring Research on Tea Tree Oil as a Natural Treatment for Lice

Head lice infestations are a common concern, especially among school-going children. These tiny, wingless parasites live on the scalp, feeding on human blood and causing itching and discomfort. While there are numerous treatments available, many are turning to natural remedies, with tea tree oil emerging as a popular choice. In this article, we'll delve into the research surrounding the use of pure tea tree oil for hair, specifically in treating head lice.

Understanding Head Lice

Head lice are tiny insects that thrive on the human scalp. They lay eggs, known as nits, which attach to hair shafts. The itching caused by lice bites can lead to secondary bacterial infections due to scratching. While lice are not dangerous, they are contagious and can be a nuisance to eliminate.

Why Pure Tea Tree Oil for Hair Lice Treatment?

Tea tree oil, derived from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree native to Australia, has been used traditionally for its antiseptic properties. The idea of using pure tea tree oil for hair lice treatment stems from its potential to act against parasites and microbes.

What Does Research Say?

Several studies have explored the efficacy of tea tree oil in treating head lice:

  1. Terpinen-4-ol: This primary component of tea tree oil has been found to be lethal to lice. A study published in the "Parasitology Research" journal found that a high concentration of terpinen-4-ol was effective in killing 100% of head lice within an hour.

  2. Comparison with Traditional Treatments: Another study compared the efficacy of tea tree oil with traditional treatments like pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide. The results indicated that tea tree oil was more effective, with a higher mortality rate for lice.

  3. Combination Treatments: Some research suggests that combining tea tree oil with other natural agents, like lavender oil, can enhance its lice-killing properties.

How to Use Pure Tea Tree Oil for Hair Lice Treatment

  1. Direct Application: Mix a few drops of pure tea tree oil with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil. Apply this mixture to the scalp and hair, ensuring thorough coverage. Leave it on for several hours or overnight, covered with a shower cap. Comb through the hair with a fine-toothed comb to remove dead lice and nits. Wash off with shampoo.

  2. Tea Tree Oil Shampoo: Add several drops of pure tea tree oil to your regular shampoo. Use this mixture to wash your hair, leaving it on for a few minutes before rinsing.

  3. Preventive Spray: In a spray bottle, mix water with a few drops of pure tea tree oil. Spritz this on the hair daily as a preventive measure, especially during lice outbreaks at schools or communities.

Safety Precautions

While pure tea tree oil for hair lice treatment can be effective, it's essential to use it safely:

  • Patch Test: Before full application, conduct a patch test to ensure no allergic reactions.

  • Avoid Eye Contact: Tea tree oil can be irritating to the eyes. Ensure it doesn't come into contact with them.

  • Not for Ingestion: Tea tree oil is toxic when ingested. Ensure it's kept away from the mouth and stored out of children's reach.


Head lice infestations can be distressing, but nature provides potential solutions. Pure tea tree oil for hair lice treatment is backed by research, indicating its efficacy in not only treating but also preventing lice infestations. As with all natural remedies, it's crucial to use them correctly and safely. If you or your child is grappling with head lice, consider giving tea tree oil a try, but always consult with a healthcare professional or dermatologist before starting any new treatment.


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