How to Treat Head Lice During Pregnancy

Lice, or pediculus humanus capitis, are wingless, parasitic insects that annually affect approximately 6 to 12 million U.S. children ages 3 to 11. Lice transmission occurs from direct contact with inanimate objects, such as a comb, brush, hat or scarf. Treating head lice during pregnancy can be a nuisance since most of the over-the-counter treatments contain toxic chemicals, but non-toxic home remedies are available, though they are not a substitute for medical treatment. Consult with your health-care provider if the condition persists or to discuss alternative treatments.

Pediculous humanus is a species of louse that infects humans. Credit: 7activestudio/iStock/Getty Images

Step 1

Apply the oil, mayonnaise or jelly product to your hair. Start near the scalp and work the product in to ensure that all the hair strands are saturated. Oil helps to suffocate the lice and prevent the parasite from laying additional eggs.

Step 2

Wrap your head with a shower cap or plastic wrap. If you are using a shower cap, make sure it fits snugly to prevent airflow.

Step 3

Apply a liberal amount of heat to your wrapped head with the hair dryer. Heat might help to kill the lice. Let the oil product remain on your hair for approximately 30 more minutes. You also can skip the heat treatment and leave the oil product on your scalp for at least two hours, or even overnight.

Step 4

Cleanse your hair with shampoo. Apply shampoo and massage your scalp and hair strands to help loosen the oil product. Rinse with water, then lightly dry your hair with a towel.

Step 5

Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a container to make a rinse. Apply the mixture to your hair, ensuring you cover all hair strands. Dr. Karen E. Burke, a dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon in New York City, notes that vinegar helps to remove and wash the dead nits off hair strands, and it mght give your hair a thick and shiny appearance.

Step 6

Comb your hair in sections using a lice comb or fine-tooth comb. Divide the hair in sections and wipe the comb using disposable paper towels after each pass through your hair. Wiping the comb between passes lets you gauge the severity of the problem and prevent reinfestation.

Things You'll Need

  • Olive oil, mayonnaise or petroleum jelly

  • Shampoo

  • Towel

  • Lice comb or fine-tooth comb

  • Shower cap or plastic wrap

  • White vinegar

  • Hair dryer

  • Disposable paper towels


You might need to wash your hair several times to remove the mayonnaise, olive oil or petroleum jelly.


Disinfect any combs or brushes used during the treatment process by soaking in a bleach solution, using equal parts bleach and water. Wash any towels used immediately afterward, using hot water to kill any live lice.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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