“Tea Tree Oil for Head Lice” – just another reason why I use essential oils daily!
Another great article I had to reference here for my followers, my clients and for myself 🙂 After having been using essential oils daily for over 6 years now, and seen incredible results and benefits, I have to say that it makes me very happy to see this type of information coming from an actual Doctor of Pharmacy.
I love my Tea Tree – it actually never leaves my bathroom counter 🙂 what does my family use Tea Tree oil for? skin blemishes, bug bites, any irritated dry skin, deodorant, nail infections, just to name a few. Plus here are some ideas on using it around the house: From Dr. Mercola’s website:
- Toothbrush cleaner – A drop of tea tree oil can disinfect your toothbrush, which is a breeding ground for mold and bacteria.
- Mold treatment – Mix a drop with a cup of water, spray on moldy areas, and then wipe clean. For an all-natural disinfectant, you can also sprinkle a few drops of tea tree oil along with baking soda on your bathroom or kitchen surfaces.
- Natural pest control – The strong smell of tea tree oil naturally repels ants and other insects. I recommend making a natural insect repellent by mixing a few drops of tea tree oil with coconut oil.
More ideas here courtesy Young Living oils
Tea Tree Oil for Head Lice
What is the evidence that tea tree oil can prevent or treat head lice?
Philip J. Gregory, PharmD
Associate Professor, Pharmacy Practice; Director, Center for Drug Information & Evidence-Based Medicine, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska
Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is an essential oil obtained from the distillation of the leaves from the Australian tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). Several products containing tea tree oil, including shampoos, body washes, drops, and sprays, are promoted as preventing and treating lice infestations. Tea tree oil contains two major constituents: 1,8-cineole and terpinen-4-ol, which have insecticidal activity, possibly due to inhibition of acetylcholinesterase. A 1% tea tree oil solution was found to kill 100% of head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) within 30 minutes, in vitro.
Canyon and colleagues evaluated the effect of tea tree oil and other interventions for preventing transmission and repelling head lice on isolated human hair and skin. While none of the interventions were effective for preventing lice transmission from one hair to another, tea tree oil appeared to have a repellant effect. In this study, a patch of skin was treated with 100% tea tree oil. Two minutes after treatment application, a louse was placed on the treated skin patch. Tea tree oil repelled 55% of the lice from the treated area, which was superior to other interventions, such as peppermint oil (34%) and N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (DEET) (26%). Similarly, tea tree oil also prevented 60% of the lice from feeding on the treated skin.
Barker and colleagues compared three products in 123 children with active head lice: a combination product containing 10% tea tree oil and 1% lavender oil, a product containing pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide, and a “suffocation” product containing benzyl alcohol, mineral oil, and other ingredients. The tea tree oil and suffocation products were each applied weekly for a total of three applications (days 0, 7, and 15). The product containing pyrethrins was applied twice, on day 0 and day 7, per the manufacturer’s recommendations. At the end of treatment, the louse-free rate was 97.6% for patients who received the tea tree oil and lavender oil product and for those who received the suffocation product. The rate was 25% for those who received the product containing pyrethrins. The tea tree oil and lavender product was significantly more effective than the product containing pyrethrins, but was comparable to the suffocation product when each product was used in accordance with manufacturer recommendations. The tea tree oil and lavender oil product was well tolerated. Reported side effects were mild to moderate in severity and included stinging on the skin, flaky or dry scalp, and erythema. One participant reported stinging in the eyes after accidental contact.
In another study by Barker and colleagues, ovicidal efficacy was assessed for three products: tea tree oil plus lavender oil, eucalyptus oil plus lemon tea tree oil, and a suffocation pediculicide containing benzyl alcohol, mineral oil, and other ingredients. The suffocation product prevented hatching of 68.3% of live eggs; the tea tree oil and lavender oil product prevented hatching of 44.4% of eggs; and the eucalyptus oil and lemon tea tree oil preventing hatching of 3.3% of eggs.
Constituents in tea tree oil appear to have activity against lice in vitro, and preliminary evidence in an isolated skin model shows that tea tree oil has repellent and antifeeding effects. However, in the absence of clinical research evaluating tea tree oil specifically for preventing or treating head lice, it should not be considered a reliable option. However, two preliminary trials suggest that the combination of tea tree oil and lavender oil may be very effective for eliminating active lice, but only modestly effective for killing unhatched lice eggs. With more evidence, this combination product may prove to be an alternative treatment for addressing head lice, especially in circumstances of resistance to standard therapies.
Guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) currently recommends against the use of natural products, including tea tree oil, for the eradication of head lice.
AAP recommends 1% permethrin (eg, Nix®) or pyrethrins (eg, RID®) as a first choice. In cases where resistance is proven or the parent does not wish to use a pediculicide, manual removal of lice either through wet combing or the use of an occlusive method with petroleum jelly or Cetaphil® is recommended.
- Mills C, Cleary BJ, Gilmer JF, Walsh JJ. Inhibition of acetylcholinesterase by tea tree oil. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2004;56:375-379. Abstract
- Di Campli E, Di Bartolomeo S, Pizzi PD, et al. Activity of tea tree oil and nerolidol alone or in combination against Pediculus capitis (head lice) and its eggs. Parasitol Res. 2012;111:1985-1992. Abstract
- Canyon DV, Speare R. A comparison of botanical and synthetic substances commonly used to prevent head lice (Pediculus humanus var. capitis) infestation. Int J Dermatol. 2007;46:422-426. Abstract
- Barker SC, Altman PM. A randomised, assessor blind, parallel group comparative efficacy trial of three products for the treatment of head lice in children–melaleuca oil and lavender oil, pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide, and a “suffocation” product. BMC Dermatol. 2010;10:6.
- Barker SC, Altman PM. An ex vivo, assessor blind, randomised, parallel group, comparative efficacy trial of the ovicidal activity of three pediculicides after a single application–melaleuca oil and lavender oil, eucalyptus oil and lemon tea tree oil, and a “suffocation” pediculicide. BMC Dermatol. 2011;11:14.
- Devore CD, Schutze GE. Head lice. Pediatrics. 2005;135:e1355-1365.
Medscape Pharmacists © 2016 WebMD, LLC
Any views expressed above are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of WebMD or Medscape.
Do you have much experience with Tea Tree? any ideas you can share?
To your health,
Elena / PowerHouse Kickboxing Inc. Integrative Nutrition Coach