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How To Use Neem Oil For Head Lice

Posted on 02 February 2017 by Leonie Satori

Neem oil is one of the best natural treatments for head lice, but how do you use it? Neem oil is said to not only kill off the lice at every stage of their life cycle, but also helps with alleviating many of the side effects associated with a lice infestation, especially itchiness and irritation of the scalp.

Using Neem Oil For Head LiceWhat is Neem Oil?

Made from the seed of the Indian neem tree (Azidirachta indica) neem oil is renowned for its anti-parasitic qualities which is said to be attributed to the Azadirachtin compound found naturally in neem oil. Used in Ayurvedic medicine for skin conditions, nimba or nimadi as it is known in Sanskrit, is traditionally used to massage into the scalp for dandruff, lice and parasitic skin conditions such as scabies. Nimbadi or neem oil is also used in Indian scalp massages to help with alleviating headaches.

Neem oil is like no other plant based oil, it has a rich natural brownish green colour and quite a thick texture. In colder climates neem oil can tend to harden, in a similar way to coconut oil and sometimes you will find a thickening of the oil around the perimeter of the container. One of the most outstanding qualities of neem oil is the distinctive natural earthy smell, which takes a little getting used to. It is said that many bugs and parasites do not like the smell and this contributes to its effectiveness in the treatment of head lice. Nature is certainly fascinating and we view the smell of natural neem oil as part of its medicinal herbal charm.

Unlike chemical based lice and nit treatments, neem oil is totally natural, so you can feel secure that you are not bringing any unnecessary toxins into your home. 

How to Use Neem Oil For Lice

Neem oil is often used diluted with other carrier oils, but for head lice treatments, it may used on its own. Massage the neem oil into the scalp and comb through the hair, removing any lice or nits in this process. To further suffocate any lice, you can wrap the hair in plastic or a shower cap and leave on for an hour or longer. Remove the neem oil with a natural shampoo, you may need to use two applications of shampoo to remove the last of the neem oil from the hair. Repeat this procedure 2-3 times per week until the nits and lice are no longer present.

For those with sensitive scalps or who prefer to dilute the neem oil with another carrier oil we suggest an alternate recipe using two parts of carrier oil with one part of neem oil. We suggest using either organic coconut oil for it's lice suffocating qualities or organic black sesame oil for its natural antibacterial qualities.

Disguising the Smell of Neem Oil

Adding natural organic essential oils to your neem oil can, to some extent improve the smell of your formula. Tea Tree Essential Oil is naturally repellent for all types of bugs and will give your formula a more medicinal smell. Tea tree is also anti-fungal and antimicrobial, so is beneficial for those with skin conditions. Organic Lavender Essential Oil is surprisingly good for repelling lice although used on it's own it may not entirely cover the smell of the neem oil, the soothing, calming and itch dissipating benefits of lavender are great for kids scalps.

Prevention With Other Natural Remedies

Once you have the infestation under control, management and prevention is key to success. Sensible cleaning routines with bedding and clothing go without saying, however, there are a couple of other measures that can help to keep your household lice free. 

Adding 1-5mL of neem oil to 100mL of your regular shampoo can help to prevent lice from taking hold again. As above, this can be mixed with tea tree and/or lavender essential oils for a little more nose friendly formula. We suggest using a lower percentage (1mL) of neem if you shampoo every day, and higher amounts for less frequent washing. 

You can also make your own daily preventative essential oil spritz to spray onto your children's hair prior to heading to school or the playground. You can re-use an old spray bottle and combine 100mL of clean water with 10-12 drops of essential oil. Use one or a combination of the following essential oils: lavender, tea tree or rosemary, shake well before spraying lightly onto the hair, it can be combed through longer hair before tying up. Be careful to avoid spraying any sensitive areas, especially the eyes.

Kid Friendly Pre-Made Lice Prevention Products

Ecokid makes same great certified organic products specifically designed for lice treatment and prevention, which work really well with a neem oil treatment. Pre-made and ready to go, Ecokid products include their Lice Bomb, a nice metal Lice Comb, a daily shampoo and a daily tonic spray leave-in conditioner. All of their Ecokid products are available for purchase in our health centre in Lismore or through our online store here.




Leonie Satori Herbalist Naturopath Lismore

About the Author

Leonie is a Naturopath & Medical Herbalist with a passion for good food, healthy living and of course, herbal medicine. When she is not consulting in her Naturopathic clinic in Lismore or blogging about nutrition, Ayurvedic Medicine or natural health, she is studying yoga, growing her own herbs and vegetables or quietly walking in the natural bush land in Northern Rivers NSW.

Contact our health centre in Lismore to book an appointment with Leonie in our naturopathic clinic.


The content of this website and any provided materials, research, or communications are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your qualified health practitioner with any questions you may have regarding your health condition.

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