Can Hair Dye Kill Head Lice?
If you’ve dyed your hair before, then you are familiar with the strong chemical smell of the dye, and have felt the tingle on your scalp as it works its magic on your hair. It makes sense that a bug such as lice might have a hard time living through that kind of chemical warfare. However, does it actually work?
Will Dying Your Hair Kill Lice?
If you do a Google search about whether or not hair dye kills lice, the results will give you links to success stories. The idea is that if the chemicals in the dye are strong enough to eliminate the lice, maybe they would work similarly to over-the-counter “lice cures” which are insecticide-based lice products.
While this claim sounds reasonable, unfortunately, hair dye will not kill lice – it will simply color the lice and eggs.
Why Hair Dye Doesn’t Work to Kill Lice
The short answer is that head lice are simply extremely resilient – and the chemicals found in hair dye have little to no effect on them.
There are also hundreds – if not thousands – of hair dye brands out there, all of which use different formulations and chemicals – making it difficult to comprehensively determine their effectiveness at killing lice (plus, none of those formulas were actually designed for or tested for their effects on lice!)
Additionally, not even medicated shampoos made to kill lice will kill the lice eggs (also known as nits). So even if a chemical hair dye killed the live lice – what about the eggs? The lice eggs are the hardest to get rid of as they are cemented to the shaft of the hair near the scalp. As with all topical products, hair dye will not penetrate the casing of the nits and therefore they might be a different color, but they will not be dead.
It’s also important to note that in the last 20 years, lice have developed resistance to a number of over-the-counter (OTC) medicated treatments, as you can see illustrated in this graphic:
If products that are designed specifically to kill lice have stopped working because the lice have developed genetic resistance to the old formulas, then hair dye made simply for the purpose of dying hair doesn’t stand a chance! You’ll simply end up with dyed eggs, and a whole new problem once those eggs have hatched.
Safe & Effective Treatments for Head Lice
At Lice Clinics of America, we have three safe and proven treatments for removing head lice.
- The FDA-cleared AirAllé, a medical device that eliminates live lice bugs and their eggs (nits) through dehydration and desiccation. This revolutionary alternative treats head lice through a specific combination of temperature, airflow, time, and technique. Because the AirAllé device is so effective at killing lice eggs (which are the hardest for traditional lice products to kill), the chances of needing a follow-up treatment are less than 1%! Find a Lice Clinic Near You
- The OneCure™ Home Treatment Kit is 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. OneCure uses the same non-toxic, pesticide-free technology proven in our clinics, but can be administered at home.
- The CURE! Lice Remover Kit is a home treatment kit that allows you to treat head lice with a safe, non-toxic, and pesticide-free gel that kills lice and super lice.
Whichever of these treatments you choose, you can rest assured that they are safe and effective. If you want to actually kill head lice rather than turn them a shade of pink or brown, we suggest using scientifically-tested treatments and not the box dye from your local drugstore! Take a look at our comprehensive lice treatment options here.