How To Get Rid of Lice Naturally (Advice From a Professional Nitpicker)

Have you ever noticed how motherhood has a way of making you feel guilty about random things, like going to the bathroom by yourself? Well, here’s one thing you shouldn’t add to your list: lice.

If your little one gets it, it’s not because they were dirty . . . though it’s probably a good thing if they are sometimes. Lice thrive in clean hair, dirty hair, blue hair and even weird beard hair.

If you’re like me, you remember being doused with a foul, tar-like shampoo after a wave of lice hit your local elementary school. For even the natural mamas among us, it’s easy to think that this might be the time to bring out the big guns. Who wants to fight this stuff for weeks, right?

Before you lather up, though, here’s what you need to know:

Conventional Lice Treatments Are Worse Than We Thought

Over-the-counter options like Nix, Rid, A-200 and Pronto and prescription varieties like Ovide or Kwell contain neurotoxins that kill lice by attacking the central nervous system.

Permethrin and pyrethrum, which are found in over-the-counter options, are neurotoxins that have been linked to “side effects such as headache, ringing of the ears, nausea, tingling of fingers and toes, breathing problems, and other nervous system problems.” The Asthma Society of Canada adds that “Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of pesticides, especially those with a history of allergies or asthma.”

Prescriptions options use stronger pesticides. For example lindane, which is found in Kwell, is linked to seizures, slurred speech, mental confusion and tremors. In fact, the “pharmaceutical use of lindane is already banned in at least 52 countries across the globe. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the use of lindane, citing toxicity to the central nervous system and cases of seizures in children, as well as low efficacy.” 

“Increasingly pesticides like lindane, even in very small amounts, are linked to a wide range of adverse impacts on children’s health,” said Mark Miller, MD, MPH, director of the UCSF Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit. “The options for lice and scabies control shouldn’t include this neurotoxic pesticide.” 

Plus, They Don’t Even Work

You see, lice are super these days. And by super I don’t mean awesome, I mean resistant to pesticide-based products. According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, 99.6% of the lice found in the U.S. at the time of the study were “super lice.” Just like bacterial superbugs, they’re unaffected by conventional treatment methods.

If you’re scratching your head about what to do instead, I have a few suggestions.

How To Get Rid of Lice Naturally

Last week I discovered that one of my boys had lice. Since it spreads easily between family members I decided to treat everyone, including myself. My hair is long and thick, so separating it into sections to go through with a nit comb (more on those in a sec) is not an easy task.

Nit Comb

Professional “nitpickers” most often use the Nit Free Terminator  to remove lice and eggs.

After comparing the metal comb I was able to find at our local store with the Terminator comb, I ordered the Terminator. Missing just one or two eggs can lead to a recurrence, so I wanted to have it on hand in case the comb I’d used didn’t fully do the job. It’s also good to have on hand for future issues, although I hope we don’t have any.

In the video below, a professional “nitpicker” walks you through effective combing techniques for removing lice and nits.

Home Remedies For Lice (Application Guide & Recipes)

If you’re wondering how much essential oil to use during the suffocation treatment and what other options should be considered, this section is for you. Below are some natural ingredient combinations that I’ve used personally and/or friends have recommended.


Some people believe that applying vinegar to the scalp/hair before blowdrying helps loosen the “glue” that holds lice eggs in place. I used a glass spray bottle to apply the vinegar to my daughters hair, then allowed it to dry naturally before drying the scalp with a hair dryer.


As mentioned above, in this study, a lotion that included 10% tea tree and 1% lavender oil was 97.6% effective in eliminating lice, while insecticides like pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide were only 25% effective.

When I applied coconut oil to my kids, I used 9 drops essential oil per tablespoon of coconut/olive oil.

How To Prevent Lice From Coming Back

Lice don’t do well in the environment if separated from us, so preventing reinfestation is relatively easy with a little know-how.

  • Place brushes, combs, rubber bands, and other hair related items in a sealed bag/container and place in the freezer for 24 hours

  • Wash and dry bedding and towels in hot water, then place in dryer. At the end of the drying cycle I turned my dryer setting to “high heat” and let it run for 20 minutes before taking everything out.

  • Wipe down car headrests and seats if possible

Or just avoid all the trouble and book an appointment with us at Larger Than Lice, we will be more than happy to help you and your family be lice free and stress free in no time!