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How Do I Use Olive Oil for Head Lice?

Lice can be smothered and killed with olive oil.
Containers of olive oil.
A head louse.
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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 10 August 2014
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Using olive oil for head lice is a safe and natural alternative to chemical remedies. Olive oil can be used to suffocate the lice, killing any living organisms. After the lice have been suffocated, they must be manually removed along with their eggs in order to prevent a reccurrence. All members of the household and the house itself must be cleansed of lice fully, because it only takes a few to restart the infestation. Since olive oil is generally considered safe and nontoxic, this process can be repeated until the infestation is fully conquered.

In order to use olive oil for head lice, you must first make several preparations. First, you must buy olive oil. The olive oil need not be expensive, and in fact it is likely a good idea to use the cheapest oil available. Next, you must collect old towels and an inexpensive comb and place the instruments and the oil in the bathroom or another place where a mess can be cleaned up easily.

Usually, using olive oil for head lice is relatively simple, but it can cause a large mess. Also, olive oil can get on clothing and other items, causing permanent damage. For these reasons, it is very important to set up the area in a way that minimizes spills and mess.

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The basic principle when using olive oil for head lice is to smother the lice. This is accomplished by fully saturating the hair down to the scalp with oil. Lice can live for quite a long time without breathing, so the oil must stay on the hair overnight, although some believe 15 minutes is sufficient. It is a good idea to brush the oil through the hair and knead it into the scalp, because the oil needs to cover every surface. Once the hair is fully saturated, you can wrap the hair with plastic wrap or a towel for convenience.

After the oil has been on the hair overnight, it is time to pick out the lice manually. This can be accomplished with a fine-toothed comb, but it is important to be thorough. Since it is difficult to pick out the lice using a mirror, this step should be performed with a partner.

One of the most difficult parts of using olive oil for head lice is getting the oil out of your hair. Some people find that using dish soap is more effective than using normal shampoo. One way to increase the effectiveness of this method is to wash all items that might carry lice while the oil is on the hair, which makes it unlikely that any lice will escape. Just to be safe, it is a good idea to repeat the entire process in one week to take care of any surviving lice.

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