As a hairdresser, lice are one of those bugs I hope I only see in my nightmares. Unfortunately, there have been a few times that a client has come into the salon with the little bugs, for which we have to kindly ask them to leave while we are all panicking on the inside.
I don’t blame people for coming to a salon when they are unsure what to do because who would know better how to get rid of lice than a hairdresser? But please, for the love of god, do not come into the salon if you know you have lice because you are only risking other people’s heads and quite possibly our career. You can either call your hairdresser or see a doctor for advice.
People usually come into the salon when they have head lice because they don’t know they have them or because they assume hair dye will get rid of their problem quickly. But does hair dye kill lice? You may want to read this article before heading to the nearest drugstore.
Does Hair Dye Kill Lice Up Front
The short answer is possibly, but I wouldn’t trust hair dye to rid your lice problem fully. The only way that hair dye would kill lice is if the bugs ingested it, which hasn’t been fully proven. The lice can easily climb off the hair once you’ve applied the dye and hide in your home’s furniture, clothes, carpets, and other fibers. Plus, hair dye will not kill the nits, hatching more lice later.
Can Hair Dye Prevent Lice?
If your hair is already colored with hair dye, it may prevent lice from making your hair home. That’s why you see head lice on children more than adults because they haven’t started making any chemical alterations to their hair yet. This is not foolproof, but lice like clean, healthy, and untreated hair. To put this lightly, lice like a more natural flavor in their scalps and hair instead of a chemical-filled flavor.
Coloring your hair does not guarantee that lice will not nest in your hair because they lay their eggs and live on the scalp. As your dyed hair grows, your natural regrowth becomes a suitable home again. You need to color your hair every three to four weeks for your scalp to be an undesirable place for lice.
What Exactly Are Lice?
A head louse is a type of bug that feeds on human hair and scalps. Once you have gotten the little bugs, they may be extremely difficult to remove because their primary purpose is to lay eggs, called nits, into the hair, and they may lay hundreds on one head that you will have to remove and dispose of. It is always better to try to prevent head lice than to have to remove them.
Common Myths About Head Lice
- They can leap or jump from head to head: Lice do not jump, hop, or fly. The only way lice can transfer from one head to another is by crawling.
- If you have lice, you must be dirty: Getting lice has nothing to do with being dirty. In reality, lice only like clean, healthy scalps and won’t make a dirty scalp their home.
- Lice spread extremely easily: The only way to actually get lice is if you’ve had contact with something that lice are on, like a brush, hat, or another person’s head. Just because you were in the same room as someone with lice does not mean you will undoubtedly get lice.
Other Ways to Prevent Lice
The best remedy for lice is not to get them in the first place. Contrary to popular belief, it is extremely easy to keep lice from crawling onto your or your child’s head. Here are a few ways to prevent lice from ever targeting your hair. Again, these tips will not kill lice but keep them away.
Don’t Wash Your Hair Everyday
As mentioned above, lice like a clean home, and not washing your hair daily can make your head less suitable for lice. Especially if you can go more than a couple of days and use dry shampoos or dry conditioners.
Anything that causes a build-up on the scalp makes it difficult for lice to lay their eggs or snack on your scalp. That could be natural oils, products, or even dry scalp, which are all things you wouldn’t think you want a build-up of on your scalp. Although, the small layer that these things create over just a couple of days is enough to make life difficult for lice.
Spray Hair Spray In Your Hair
Similarly to hair dye, hair spray can prevent lice from choosing your head. A little bit of light-hold hair spray all over the head on washing day can not only hold your blowout for days but create enough of a build-up on the scalp and hair to keep lice away. Nearly all hairsprays have ingredients that lice do not like, and if you get one that is flexible enough, you may not even notice it’s there.
Some light-hold hairsprays that I recommend are:
Don’t Share Brushes, Hair Accessories, or Clothes
It is a myth that lice jump or hop from head to head. They can only crawl from one spot to another. That means the primary way lice are spread is by being transferred by touching heads or using other objects we put near our heads.
Do not use anything that is not your own that goes near your head if you are worried about catching lice. That can include brushes, combs, clips, hats, scarves, headbands, jackets, hoodies, and so much more. Obviously, this is a lot to think about all the time and only avoidable by so much, but if you are worried you or someone else has lice, avoid these things like the plague.
Shampoos That Can Prevent Lice
One of the best ways to prevent lice from crawling onto your scalp is to use a shampoo and conditioner with ingredients that lice naturally hate. This way, you don’t have to worry about changing your usual hair care routine or buying any additional products you wouldn’t usually use. Plus, you know the ingredients are fully saturating your scalp and hair if you are correctly washing your hair, leaving no room for lice to find a spot on your head they like.
None of these ingredients is 100% proven to prevent lice, but they have worked for an overwhelming amount of people. The ingredients that lice do not like to look for in your shampoo are rosemary oil, peppermint oil, neem oil, tea tree oil, lavender oil, and eucalyptus oil.
I always recommended this shampoo and conditioner to my clients for their children when I worked in an Aveda salon. It not only does a great job of cleaning kids’ sensitive, oily scalps, but it can prevent them from getting lice. I actually had a couple of my mommy clients come in after purchasing this product for their child, raving about how there was a lice outbreak at school, and their kid didn’t get it.
Many of my clients with fine, limp hair also love this shampoo because it’s incredibly lightweight and clarifies heavy products from their hair. The only time I would not recommend this shampoo and conditioner combination is if you have thick, coarse hair because it is not moisturizing at all. You can still use the shampoo to help with lice prevention but use a hydrating conditioner.
- It has rosemary and peppermint essential oil.
- All natural, vegan ingredients.
- The packaging is made from recycled plastic.
- It can help with oily hair and gently clarifies.
- It also has white vinegar, which can help remove nits (lice eggs).
- It could be more hydrating and doesn’t do much to get rid of tangles.
I’m an eco-friendly freak, so I love a good shampoo in bar format. Chagrin Valley shampoo bars conserve water usage and don’t have any plastic waste, being wrapped in recycled paper boxes. On top of that, they use vegan, all-natural ingredients that you can actually read and understand on the label.
In terms of preventing lice, this bar shampoo has all the essential ingredients, including tea tree oil, neem oil, lavender oil, rosemary oil, and peppermint oil. Tea tree oil and neem oil are both ingredients that have the potential to kill lice, according to some studies. On top of that, these two ingredients are excellent antibacterials, and since this shampoo is also a body bar, it can help with acne and other common skin issues.
- It has tea tree, neem, lavender, rosemary, and peppermint oils.
- Natural, vegan ingredients.
- Packaged in recycled boxes, no plastic.
- Also great for acneic skin or irritated skin and scalp.
- A soft, natural smell.
- Bar shampoos can be hard to get used to because they lather differently.
Rocky Mountain Barber Company is a popular men’s brand that creates natural shampoos that don’t use harsh chemicals like SLS sulfates and parabens. Like most other natural products, they can go bad quicker than ordinary shampoos, and that’s why they only produce their shampoo in small amounts, ensuring you get a fresh bottle that will last a long time.
This shampoo’s three ingredients that can prevent lice are peppermint, tea tree, and eucalyptus oils. These three ingredients have many benefits besides lice hating them, such as helping with common skin irritations, minimizing dandruff (the actual fungi, not dry scalp), and giving you a super clean feeling. On top of that, the natural fragrance of these ingredients creates a wintery forest smell.
- It has peppermint oil, tea tree oil, and eucalyptus oil.
- It lathers well for a natural shampoo made of essential oils.
- They don’t mass produce, making it fresher when you receive it.
- It gives you that fresh, cool feeling on your scalp.
- It can also help with other scalp problems, like eczema and dandruff.
- It comes in a small bottle for the price.
How to Get Rid of Lice
Use a Lice Killing Shampoo
Lice-killing shampoos are called pediculicides, and the only ingredients the FDA has approved to kill lice are Pyrethrins or Permethrin lotion. You can either get a prescription from a doctor for one of these shampoos or purchase an over-the-counter option. Some OTC options are:
Unfortunately, lice have been becoming resistant to these ingredients, so you must do more than use a lice-killing shampoo now. That’s why I recommend trying to prevent lice, as mentioned above, over risking getting the pesky bugs. Keep reading to see the other steps you should take to eliminate lice.
Comb Out Any Eggs with a Lice Comb
The most crucial step of the removal process is combing out the nits after shampooing with lice-killing shampoo. Nits are lice eggs placed by the bugs onto the root of the hair with a sticky compound, and they look like tiny white seeds. The shampoos will not rid your hair of these, so you must comb them out with a lice comb.
I recommend coating your hair with white or apple cider vinegar before combing through the hair. This will break down the sticky compound that attaches the nits to your hair. You can then go through the hair in tiny sections (no larger than 1/8th of an inch) and comb out any nits you may see. Lice hide them mainly around the ears and the nape of your neck.
You’ll want to check the hair with your lice comb every day or two for about five days to ensure they are all gone and no more nits have been laid. This tedious process will take 30 minutes to an hour every combing, depending on your hair’s thickness.
Steam Clean or Wash EVERYTHING
Luckily, lice can not live off the scalp for more than 48 hours. Once they have fallen off your head or crawled off, they will most likely die unless they crawl back onto your scalp or someone else’s. Therefore, you must steam clean, or machine wash everything your head has touched.
You can usually rent a steam cleaner from your local hardware store if you don’t have one, and I recommend running it over all of your furniture, mattresses, and carpets. For everything else, like towels, sheets, clothes, and backpacks, machine wash them with hot water and dry them on high heat.
Check Anyone That You Had Contact With
The last thing you want to do is check in with anyone you may have had close contact with over the week before finding the lice. Even if you have completely gotten rid of all your lice, they can crawl back over to you from someone else who may not know they have them.
This may seem embarrassing to have to tell everyone that you have lice, but remember, lice like clean, healthy heads. Getting lice does not mean you are dirty or don’t take care of yourself, as most people believe. If you’re worried about what people think of you for getting lice, go ahead and throw that fact in there.
Answer: The heat from a straightener may kill lice, but it isn’t certain, and it won’t kill the nits in the hair. There are much better ways to ensure lice are gone for good, such as using a lice comb, sanitizing everything in your home, and using a lice shampoo.
Answer: You can usually find between 10 and 15 lice on the head at one time. However, lice can lay many more nits or eggs, and you must remove all the nits and the lice in the hair. There also may be more or less depending on how often you wash your sheets and clothes because they can build up in those areas.
Answer: If your lice won’t go away, it’s most likely because you didn’t remove all the nits in your hair or thoroughly clean your furniture, clothes, and other fibrous items in your home. I recommend going through the hair with a nit comb for three to five days after the initial lice infestation. You should also wash all sheets, clothes, and blankets in your home and steam clean your carpets and pillows.
Answer: Head lice do not typically live on pets for more than 48 hours. Lice can only live on human scalps and do not feed on animal fur or skin. If you have pets and are worried about lice hiding in their fur, you can use any tick and flea preventative to kill the lice. Do not use lice shampoo for humans on your pets because it can be toxic to them.
The Best Way to Kill Lice
If you have unfortunately gotten lice, the best way to kill them is to use a proven lice-killing shampoo and comb out the nits afterward. Combing the nits out of the hair is the most critical part of the process because more lice will hatch and spread if they are not all removed.
However, you want to avoid getting the little bugs in the first place because lice removal is a long and tedious process. The best way to prevent lice from crawling onto your scalp is to use one of the above-mentioned shampoos. I like Aveda’s Rosemary Mint Shampoo the best and have gotten a lot of positive feedback from clients on how well it prevented their kids from getting lice during outbreaks at school.
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