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How Effective Is Neem for Lice?

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  • Written By: A. Pasbjerg
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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While not as well known a treatment for lice as over-the-counter and prescription chemical shampoos, neem oil is a natural remedy that is generally considered very effective for clearing an infestation. Long used in Ayurvedic medicine, it is known for its ability to repel insects and also been shown to effectively kill parasites as well. Using neem for lice can be achieved by applying the oil directly to the hair and scalp, or by using a shampoo that contains it. There are certain populations, like young children or pregnant women, that should probably not be treated with neem, and in these cases, one should speak to a doctor before starting treatment with it.

Both traditional use and more modern research support the idea that using neem for lice can be very effective. It is thought to kill the parasites by preventing them from feeding and by killing the eggs before they hatch. At least one study using neem shampoo proved it worked extremely well to kill lice eggs and larvae, and its strong odor also serves to repel the mature insects. In addition to being a highly effective treatment, neem has a significant advantage over chemical products in that it rarely causes side effects.

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There are two main ways to use neem for lice, by either applying the pure oil directly or by washing with a neem shampoo. While it is thought that using the undiluted oil is the most effective method, there are some drawbacks to this option. Putting oil directly on the hair and scalp, particularly enough to kill a lice infestation, can be a messy operation that may damage clothing, furniture, or bedding. It is also very strong smelling, which can be unpleasant for the person being treated, and the smell may be hard to wash out of any fabrics it touches. Using a neem shampoo, which contains a diluted amount of the oil, may help avoid these problems though the concentration needs to be high enough to still kill the lice.

Even though it generally works very well, using neem for lice may not be right for everyone. It may not be safe to use on infants or small children, and is typically not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Anyone who shows signs of an adverse or allergic reaction to neem should avoid it as well. If there is any question about whether it is safe to use, one should speak to a doctor first.

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fBoyle
Post 3

I'd like to repeat the warning that was mentioned in the article. Neem is great for lice, but it shouldn't be used by young children or pregnant women. Neem is toxic in large doses and can have adverse effects for children and expecting mothers. Neem is natural, but natural doesn't always mean safe.

And it's also a good idea to make sure that the neem oil or product is formulated specifically for skin and hair. There are also neem products out there for gardening, etc.

fify
Post 2

@serenesurface-- I think it does both. It will kill them and if used regularly, it will repel lice and all other pests.

You should definitely dilute the neem oil before applying it to your scalp and hair. Dilute with another oil, or dilute with water. I think it will be enough to keep it on for fifteen or twenty minutes. You can wash it out after that.

You could also add some of the neem oil to your regular shampoo. This is what I do. It will not only get rid of pests, but neem also treats scalp issues like dandruff and itching. It works great for my oily and itchy scalp. I think my scalp has a tendency for yeast/fungi and neem shampoo keeps them at bay.

serenesurface
Post 1

Does neem kill lice and larvae or does it simply repel them? I see sources saying both.

If I get neem oil for lice treatment, should I dilute it with another oil before applying to my hair and scalp? How long do I need to keep it on for? And how many times should I repeat this treatment?

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