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Stop Head Lice From Coming Back: Repel, Avoid, & Prevent Head Lice and Nits

Suzie is a busy mom with three energetic kids. She loves finding and sharing activities and solutions to help her fellow moms stay sane.

Removing head lice is time consuming!

Removing head lice is time consuming!

Get Rid of Lice for Good

Did you finally rid your family of head lice, and you want to keep them from coming back? Have you received a note from school about an outbreak, and now you're trying to avoid the epidemic?

Head lice and nits are a huge problem for most families with young children. While anyone can get infected, younger children tend to be less inhibited about personal space and sharing clothing—allowing lice to be easily passed from child to child.

The child then brings them home, and before you know it, the whole family is infected.

Anyone who has had to deal with getting rid of head lice will know that it takes time and effort to remove them all effectively.

The big problem is that even when you have ensured that you and your children are free of nits and lice, a child can instantly be reinfected by another child at preschool or school. All you need is one pregnant louse to find its way onto your child's hair, and you have to start the whole messy business all over again.

While there is no definite, proven method of repelling or preventing lice, there are parents who swear by their techniques.

Here are some great ideas to try...

Keeping the hair tied back can be gamechanging

Keeping the hair tied back can be gamechanging

Tie Hair Back

It is a common misconception that lice can jump from head to head, like fleas. In reality, lice can only crawl quite slowly, and they don't have wings to fly. Often a louse moves to another head by direct hair-to-hair contact.

Tying back longer hair will lessen the risk of it accidentally brushing against anyone else's hair or picking up a loose louse that has dropped off someone else's head.

Beware of Hats and Brushes

Lice don't live very long without a host, but they can be present for a short time in brushes, hats, and anything else that has come in contact with the hair.

Be careful about allowing family members to share hats or brushes, or anything that might easily pick up lice, while anyone in the family has head lice or nits.

Tea Tree Oil

Many parents I have talked to agree that head lice seem to absolutely hate the smell of tea tree oil.

You can purchase special tea tree oil shampoos and conditioners, or add tea tree oil to your hair products.

Alternatively, simply add a couple of drops to a spray bottle, shake, and spray onto your children's hair before they leave for school or anywhere else where they will be in contact with other children.

Be careful to avoid spraying in or near the eyes, as tea tree oil can sting.

I have tried this method, and we have managed to avoid head lice through a couple of epidemics.


Rinsing with vinegar will loosen the glue that attaches nits to the hair. The acidity and smell will also deter lice from your hair. Be careful when using on young children, though, as the smell of vinegar is very strong and can be quite irritating.

Coconut Oil

Similar to tea tree oil, coconut oil appears to have a scent that lice avoid.

Use it in the same way as the tea tree oil.

There are also many coconut hair products available, however, parents advise that you should make sure that you use real coconut oil, or products containing real coconut oil.

Personally, I love coconut oil but find the smell a little overwhelming. Hopefully, lice feel the same way!

Hairspray and Gel

I haven't personally tried hairspray or gel on my children's hair as a preventative method; however, a lot of parents have said that simply using styling products has deterred head lice from choosing their kids' hair. It's well worth a try, as most of us already have these products handy anyway.


This might sound bizarre, but one mother told me how she killed all the lice in her daughter's hair by rinsing it with regular, sugar-free mouthwash, and then leaving it in the hair under a shower cap for two hours.

She now regularly sprays her children's hair with mouthwash during head lice epidemics at school. She says the scent repels new lice.

My guess is that it's not only the scent that they dislike. Head lice also seem to avoid products that contain alcohol, and a lot of mouthwashes use alcohol as a base.

Treating Head Lice

Head lice are very common.

If, despite all your best efforts, your child still gets infected, here is a very cheap, effective and chemical-free way to get rid of nits and head lice.

Remember, head lice are spread very easily, and an infection has nothing to do with your hygiene or cleanliness. Really, they are just annoying pests that affect countless families.

Hopefully one of the above methods of repelling and preventing head lice will work for you.

Good luck!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: How can I get rid of nits on the body?

Answer: It would depend on where the nits are. If possible, you can use a nit comb to get rid of them. Exactly like head hair, you need to be persistent to catch the smaller nits as they grow to make sure none can hatch into a louse. Having a partner who is willing to help you would make this a lot easier in areas that are hard for you to see and reach. If you are unable to reach all areas, I would suggest a visit to your doctor who will be able to recommend a chemical treatment suitable for the infected part of the body. Often these treatments need to be administered several times to kill all hatching lice before they can lay more nits.

Question: I had lice a couple of months ago and had special treatments by a company. Now the lice are back again. Can you please suggest what I can do?

Answer: Special treatments are very expensive and will only work if all the nits and lice are removed. Some companies offer to repeat the treatment for free if the lice return, but it is unlikely that the warranty would last over two months. Even after you have a professional treatment, there is every chance of reinfection. I would suggest that you try the vinegar and conditioner method, as it costs very little and you can do it yourself. If you are not familiar with this method, there is a link to instructions in the main article.

© 2014 Suzie Armstrong


unknow on July 10, 2018:

i have lice and i planing on trying these methods

Suzie Armstrong (author) on October 18, 2016:

I hope it helps too, as lice are very frustrating. This other article I wrote might be useful to you also, as it could help you break the life cycle of the lice. Good luck!

Ghostbounty on October 18, 2016:

I hope this will help my hair.... I have had lice for a entire year, it has been a nightmare i almost gave up. PLEASE let these work they are good idea's. Thank you. :)

Suzie Armstrong (author) on August 02, 2016:

These products unfortunatly won't kill the nits or any lice. They will just discourage lice from choosing to live and lay eggs in hair with these products in it. Nits hatch within 6 - 7 days of being laid, so if, after a couple of weeks, you find no live lice, you are clear.

Suzie Armstrong (author) on August 02, 2016:

Great to hear that it worked. Thanks for the idea.

Nashville-Candy on November 23, 2015:

Great article, I used the tea tree and coconut oil and it was VERY effective! I even found a kid friendly leave in conditioner that has the oils that will also repel them away too. My fear is leaving one tiny nit, will using these products daily eventually kill them off or did it kill them already and it will take time to find all the nits? Thanks in Advance....

RO Edwards from Ohio on October 28, 2015:

My grandchildren went through a spell where they kept getting reinfested. My daughter in law started spraying peppermint oil on their hair. They haven't gotten lice since. Apparently they don't like the smell of peppermint.

Mom of 2 on June 19, 2014:

My kids have come home from school with nits quite a few times now. I kill the lice and spend time getting out all the nits, but they have kept coming back. Bought some tea tree oil and tried it a few weeks ago after the last lice infestation, and so far haven't seen any more lice in my kids heads. This is despite other kids being reinfected. Thanks for the advice.