Placeholder canvas

Can Essential Oils Kill Head Lice?

Can Essential Oils Kill Head Lice?

If you’re a busy parent, hearing about a lice outbreak at school is the last thing you want to be dealing with. If your kid’s head starts feeling itchy, you may be wondering, “How can I fix this as soon as possible?” As you search through your medicine cabinet, you might recall overhearing that essential oils can treat a lice outbreak. Can you just mix up all of your essential oils and put them on your child’s head, and be done with the whole situation?

The answer unfortunately is no, essential oils cannot treat an active lice infestation; but if applied correctly, they can help you prevent it before it occurs.

Essential oils can repel, but not safely kill head lice

If you’ve heard essential oils can help deal with lice, this is partially correct! 

How Essential Oils Repel Lice
Many insects heavily rely on their sense of smell, as it allows them to detect and respond to important environmental cues, such as attracting or avoiding certain odors. Head lice, or Pediculus humanus capitis, have developed a very strong sense of smell in order to navigate the world around them, and avoid toxins and other hazards. 

This strong sense of smell is found in the 7 odorant receptors (OR) of adult lice. Odorant receptors manage the interaction between smelly, odorous compounds, and the part of the nervous system that takes in that information, which are known as olfactory sensory neurons (source). 

It’s very easy for head lice to find a human host through their sophisticated sense of smell. Scientists have discovered that when lice are presented with various odors from the human head, foot, and forearm, they can detect the difference and are actually drawn toward the human head (source). 

While the adult louse uses its excellent sense of smell to its advantage in order to zero in on human heads, we can also use this sensitivity to our advantage to keep them away. Lice are highly sensitive to repellant odors such as Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Marjoram and Pennyroyal (source). Lucky for us, these essential oils are easy to find at the store.

How Essential Oils Would Kill Lice
Essential oils can also have an insecticidal effect in an extremely high concentration; however, at the necessary concentration needed in order to kill lice, it would cause severe irritation and rashes on human skin.

So overall, using essential oils to kill lice is not an ideal method.

Alternative Safe & Effective Ways to Repel Lice

Even though essential oils aren’t a great tool to treat an active infestation, they are a great way to repel lice in the first place. If you hear about a lice outbreak at school, having your kids use hair products with these essential oils can minimize their chances of contracting a lice infestation themselves. 

Lice Clinics of America sells lice prevention products such as conditioning spray, shampoo, and even hair bands to help you and your kids prevent getting lice. All of these products work by using a safe but effective concentration of essential oils, which have a scent that repels lice. Lice get overwhelmed by the strong smell and avoid it, helping to prevent an infestation. In addition, it is really helpful to use these products after treatment in order to keep lice from coming back if other people still have an active lice infestation. 

Even though essential oils aren’t a great tool to treat an active infestation, they are an effective way to repel lice in the first place.


Potential Risks and Side Effects of Essential Oils

Essential oils and products that contain them are sold at a low enough concentration to be used safely. Essential oils are byproducts of the flowers and plants they are taken from, and are created when these plants are pressed together into a concentrated format. High enough concentrations of essential oils may have some insecticidal effects – but unfortunately at such a high level, they can also cause irritation and rashes to humans. 

You can rest assured that all our products are made with safety in mind, which is again why we use essential oils for prevention and not treatment. 

Here are some tips on how to use essential oils:

  1. Never use the full concentration of oils on bare skin. Use products with 1-5% of the essential oil, as a higher concentration can cause a rash and other side effects.
  2. Do not use essential oils on damaged skin or open wounds. 
  3. Some essential oils are harmful to pets, and since Pediculus humanus capitis (aka the human head louse) only infests humans, please don’t spray your dog or cat!

If you’re using essential oils correctly, they can have great results. In addition, many essential oils have relaxing or energizing effects, which is a nice added bonus! 

Effective Lice Treatment Alternatives to Essential Oils

While essential oils cannot be used to safely treat an active lice infestation, they are a great ingredient in preventive products because their strong smells repel lice. If you are managing an active infestation, we recommend you give us a call or come into one of our clinics.
Lice Clinics of America has developed safe and effective lice treatment products designed by scientists, including our Lice Remover Liquid Gel, our AirAllé®, a heated-air device which uses desiccation to physically exterminate lice, and our OneCure Device, the first and only at-home, heated-air solution clinically proven to kill lice, super lice, and 99.2% of eggs, all in a single treatment.

If you or your family are dealing with a lice infestation, find your nearest Lice Clinics of America clinic and get treated today.

Share this post


To find out how to become part of the world’s largest network of professional lice removal clinics, contact us!


Larada Sciences, Inc.
4873 S. State Street
Murray, Utah 84107

Franchise sales:
(855) 997-4499

All other queries:
(801) 533-5423




Whether you are looking for a lice treatment center or effective D.I.Y. options, we have lice treatment options for everyone – regardless of budget.

Scroll to Top

Thank you!

Thank you for requesting more information about our franchise opportunity. We will contact you within the next 2 business days to schedule an introduction call to review available locations, territory fee, expectations and an overview of how the business works. We look forward to talking to you soon!

Thank you!

We have received your submission. We appreciate your participation in the survey!


Please SIT TIGHT until we speak with you to CONFIRM YOUR APPOINTMENT. If you don’t hear from us within the next 30 minutes (during business hours), please give us a call.

Thank you!

Please check for an email from to download your support resources. If you do not receive the email immediately, please check your spam folder.


We can’t wait to help you at our professional head lice clinic at [address] in [city], [state]! Please fill out the form below and we will be in touch with you ASAP to confirm your appointment.


We can’t wait to help you at our professional head lice clinic at 123 Lice Lane in City, AB!