One of the ickiest experiences as a parent or for yourself must be when you or the kids get hair lice. They don’t just feel gross, but are incredibly itchy, embarrassing, antisocial and can be a pain to get rid of.

The worst part is that hair lice are common. They spread easily between people and can multiple quickly once they make a home on your head. They love feeding on your blood on your scalp and are quick to lay eggs, increasing their numbers.

Head lice spread between people with direct contact – they need blood to survive and don’t do well on combs or clothing. However, if your hair or head touches someone’s head or hair that has head lice, they can move into your hair and start an infestation.

How To Use Coconut For Lice

Getting head lice is not a sign of poor hygiene or anything else apart from being unlucky. The longer you leave lice once you have them, though, the more lice you’ll have and the harder it is to get rid of them no matter which route you take to get rid of your lice problem.

In this article, I specifically focus on the question can coconut oil kill lice, as well as why you might want a natural solution for your lice problem, exactly how to use coconut oil to get rid of lice, how to use apple cider vinegar and coconut oil for lice and whether tea tree oil helps. Finally, I also answer does coconut oil keep lice away. In other words, can it stop the problem happening in the first place?

Why Use Coconut Oil For Head Lice?

The first decision to make when you are dealing with head lice is whether you want to use a natural solution or medicated shampoo.

Medicated shampoo is easy to find in pharmacies or you can buy it on Amazon here.

It can feel easier to use medicated shampoo, but it can be ineffective as lice are becoming increasingly resistant to them. The reality is that it’s not necessarily less work to use the medicated shampoo either as you’ll still need to comb out the eggs and repeat treatment, just like natural treatments.

They can also be harsh for your head and hair, and it’s best to limit use of medicated shampoos.

lice coconut oil rubbing into head
Massaging coconut oil into scalp and hair

A natural alternative is to use coconut oil to kill lice. This won’t damage your hair and doesn’t involve adding harsh chemicals to your head. You may already have it around the house which makes it easier too.

If not, you can buy coconut oil here.

Does Coconut Oil Kill Lice? How Effective Is It?

First of all, let’s talk about the life cycle of lice. Any solution to a lice problem has to take this into account as it needs to address each stage.

1. Eggs/Nits

Adult lice lay eggs at the base of hair. These are small white shapes. They can look like dandruff. I can tell the difference by how easy it is to get them out. The eggs/nits are firmly attached to the hair compared to dandruff which is flaking off the scalp.

They take about 8-9 days to hatch.

Nits on hair
Illustration of nits on hair

2. Nymphs

A nymph is the name given to the louse that hatches from the egg. They look the same as an adult louse, just smaller.

After they hatch, they turn into adults in only 9-12 days.

3. Adults

Adult lice are still small (no bigger than a sesame seed) but you can see them if you keep looking at the scalp. They are a tan/grayish white color and move fast around the hair. A female can lay about six eggs per day.

To work out how coconut oil kills lice, we need to ensure that it helps at every stage of the lice life cycle to eliminate them from your head.

How Will Coconut Oil Kill Lice?

Any solution that involves putting a natural substance on your hair will have the goal of suffocating the lice. And a coconut oil treatment for lice does work to suffocate them.

Basically, coating coconut oil in your hair will help either suffocate the lice and eggs and kill them or slow them down so you can comb them out. This is because the coconut oil is:

  • Thick – this helps suffocate the lice and eggs
  • Somewhere between a liquid and a solid – this makes it difficult for the lice to leave your hair and spread to other people
  • Full of fatty acids – which makes it difficult for the lice to grip and move around your hair so they are easy to comb out

It’s also natural and good for your hair so should leave your hair feeling healthier afterwards.

So does coconut oil get rid of lice? Yes! But like other solutions, you’ll need to use it in conjunction with a nit comb (buy one here) to make sure you get rid of all lice and eggs.

Want more proof? This study found using coconut oil and anise spray on hair to treat lice was more effective than using medicated shampoo! However, this study in Brazil did not find coconut oil to be as effective as chemical solutions. However, it did still find coconut oil for hair lice treatment to be effective.

Exactly How To Use Coconut Oil For Lice

There are several steps in using coconut oil for lice treatment.

Step 1: Massage Coconut Oil Through Your Hair

lice coconut oil rubbing into head
Massaging coconut oil into scalp and hair

The coconut oil may need to be heated slightly before doing this to make it easier to apply. However, if will usually turn into a liquid when rubbing it into a scalp. You want to make sure you cover all your hair and scalp with the coconut oil and lice are all covered.

Step 2: Cover Hair And Wait For Two Hours (Or More)

coconut oil head lice wrapped in towel

Cover up the hair with a plastic shower cap and wait while it does its magic suffocating the lice. The longer you wait, the better. Overnight is ideal.

Step 3: Comb With A Nit Comb

coconut oil lice nits combing

You need to be very pedantic in this step. Use a special nit comb which has the teeth of the comb close together to help you get all nits.

Separate the hair into sections and carefully work your way through all strands on the head taking out all lice and nits. For longer hair, I recommend a hair clip to help keep hair separated and out of the way.

Regularly, rinse the comb making sure you get all eggs and lice out of it.

Step 4: Wash The Hair As Normal

When done, wash the hair as normal using regular shampoo and dry.

Step 5: Repeat Weekly For Two More Weeks

Looking for nits in coconut oil lice study
Looking for signs of nits and lice

Unfortunately, it’s easy to miss some nits so the best bet is to do two more full treatments a week apart each. I also recommend you do some combing and checking daily to make sure you don’t notice them reappearing. If so, repeat the whole treatment again.

Tea Tree Oil And Coconut Oil For Lice

Adding essential oils to coconut oil can make a coconut oil lice treatment even more effective. In this study, adding anise oil and ylang ylang oil was slightly more effective than using a pesticide and definitely better for the person.

 castor oil, tea tree oil, and some coconut oil

Tea tree oil can be added to coconut oil to treat head lice for better results as well. It’s a natural antibacterial and insecticide and works great with coconut oil. In fact, using this with coconut oil pretty much ensures great results and I recommend you do it if you have some available.

For every three tablespoons of coconut oil, you want to add a teaspoon of tea tree oil. Mix this before step 1 above and then apply this mixture to your hair. All the other steps for coconut oil and head lice above are the same.

Apple Cider Vinegar And Coconut Oil For Lice

Much like adding tea tree oil, using a coconut oil and apple cider vinegar for lice treatment combination is more effective and recommended.

In this case, you don’t mix the coconut oil and apple cider vinegar for head lice together. Instead, you follow steps 1 and 2 above. That is, applying the coconut oil, covering with a shower cap and waiting.

apple cider vinegar

After you have waited at least two hours, soak the hair in apple cider vinegar or distilled vinegar. The purpose of this is that it stops the nits from being attached to the hair.

You then comb as per step 3 and keep following the instructions above.

Does Coconut Oil Prevent Lice?

While treating your lice problems with the above steps will help you kill the lice and stop them coming back immediately, you may need to use this coconut oil lice treatment a few times to make sure you get rid of all lice.

However, if you are wondering does coconut oil help prevent lice, there is no proof that adding coconut oil to your hair routine will help prevent lice ongoing.

If you want coconut oil lice prevention, you would need to do the full treatment with massaging coconut oil in your scalp regularly which is overkill when you don’t have a problem.


Head lice are not a problem that anyone enjoys having and, if you are like me, you’ll want them gone yesterday. This guide answers all your questions around does coconut oil help with lice (yes!), exactly how you can use coconut oil for nits so your lice problem disappears as well as tips around using tea tree oil and coconut oil and vinegar for lice.

I hope your lice problems disappear quickly too!

Read about how I use coconut oil for shaving here, how to use coconut oil for diaper rash here and how to use coconut oil for hair here. You can find all my other guides to everything coconutty here.


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