Does Hair Dye Kill Lice?

Have you heard that lice can be killed and removed with hair dye? Is this correct? Does this apply to all hair dyes or just certain brands or formulations? Let’s talk about it.

You may have heard that it is possible to kill head lice by using hair dye effectively. Is this, however, an urban legend or a true story? And, if this is true, which hair dye brand kills head lice?

Using hair dye as a head lice treatment may appear drastic, but if you’re ever in a situation where you can’t find proper medication and look for a change of color anyway, why not give it a shot?

Does Hair Dye Kill Lice
Does Hair Dye Kill Lice

And this happens more often than you might think. It is estimated that up to 12 million children aged three to eleven in the United States have head lice. Adults can get lice as well, usually after having contact with their children!

So, which hair dyes will work in this situation? Continue reading to find out.

What Are Head Lice?

Head lice are tiny insects with no wings. They live in your hair and feed on the blood sucked from your scalp.

A mature head louse is brown and about the size of a sesame seed. Louse eggs (also known as nits) are white and resemble flecks of dandruff in your hair.

Head lice are not contagious and do not transmit disease. They are, however, extremely annoying and can be difficult to remove.

What Is The Best Way To Tell If You Have Head Lice?

A head lice infestation is usually relatively simple to identify:

  • The first sign that you’re carrying unwanted guests is a tickling sensation on your scalp as if something is moving around in your hair.
  • You might be itchy as well. This is due to the reaction that lice bites frequently cause as they attack you searching for a meal.
  • Run your fingers through your hair. If you notice any sore spots or small bumps, this could be due to an allergic reaction to the saliva in the louse bites.
  • Examine your upper neck and ears for tiny red lumps that could be louse bites.

Part your hair and examine yourself in the mirror. Adult lice are too small to be seen with the naked eye, so you’re unlikely to see them moving around. You may, however, notice tiny white specks in your hair. What you think is dandruff may be “nits” or louse eggs.

However, you wash your hair almost every day and pride your hygiene. So, where did these dreadful little parasites come from?

Where Did You Find Head Lice?

Contrary to popular belief, even if you have immaculate hair, you can get head lice. Head lice aren’t picky; they can live on any head as long as it has fur, whether it’s pristine or filthy!

Your school-aged children are almost certainly the source of your head lice infestation. This is because young children frequently make head-to-head contact while playing. The lice spread from child to child and then their parents or caregivers.

Other ways to get head lice are as follows:

Wearing clothing items such as hats, headscarves, hair ornaments, and so on worn by an infected person.

  • Using nit-containing brushes or combs
  • Using a pillow or bed that has been in contact with someone who has head lice
  • Except for avoiding head-to-head contact, there is nothing you can do to prevent head lice.

Hair Dye Kills Head Lice?

It’s a common misconception that head lice can’t live in dyed hair. You can still get head lice from your children or your partner, whether you have natural or colored hair.

However, if you dye your hair again, you can kill adult head lice. Certain types of hair dye contain two chemicals that are highly toxic to adult head lice: peroxide of hydrogen, Ammonia

Allow up to 40 minutes for the dye to work on your hair if you dye it with a product that contains both of these chemicals. This also gives the chemicals enough time to kill the lice.

What Hair Dye Brand Kills Heads Lice?

They will not kill head lice because temporary hair colors, rinse-in-rinse-out colours, and semi-permanent tints do not contain hydrogen peroxide or ammonia.

  • Permanent color kits are ideal for lice-killing hair dyes.
  • Because hydrogen peroxide is a bleach, it is typically found in hair colours in the blonde shade spectrum.
  • Hair dye brands that may be effective in killing head lice include: Clairol, L’Oréal, Wella, Mr. John Frieda

Check the product label to ensure that your selected color contains both ammonia and peroxide. If you’re unsure, seek advice from your local hair salon.

Where Are The Nits?

Head lice eggs (nits) have a tough, protective shell attached to the hair shaft with a glue-like substance, making them extremely difficult to remove.

Unfortunately, the nit’s shell protects it from the effects of hair dye. So, even if dying your hair kills all of the adult lice, you’ll still have nits clinging to your hair.

The lifecycle of a head louse typically lasts between 38 and 45 days. Nits mature and hatch in one week to twelve days. Head lice nymphs attach themselves to the scalp after hatching and feed on your blood until they are mature enough to reproduce. Adult head lice then lay their eggs on your hair shafts, and the cycle starts all over again.

Alternative lice treatments

There are many at-home lice treatments available as there are lice in a typical infestation. You may need to try a few different ones before finding the ones that work best for you.

Some lice, like many insects, are becoming resistant to tried-and-true treatments such as medicated shampoos and stearyl alcohol. Manual removal of lice and nits with fine-toothed lice comb is required for all home lice treatments.

Among the most common treatments are:

Over-the-counter lice removal kits, such as Nix, contain a variety of insecticides, some of which are not suitable for babies, toddlers, small children, and pregnant or breastfeeding women. If you have any concerns, consult a doctor and follow the package directions.

Applying olive oil or mayonnaise to the scalp may suffocate lice. This unproven remedy requires leaving these substances on your hair for 24 to 48 hours while wearing a shower cap. After treating the scalp, it may be beneficial to braid or pin long hair up.

Although coconut oil has not been scientifically proven to be effective, it is non-toxic and natural. Use vinegar to boost the effectiveness of your hair treatment.

Lice may be repelled by essential oils such as peppermint, lavender, or rosemary. As a smothering treatment, essential oils diluted with a carrier oil can be used.

If home remedies like Nix and diligent combing don’t work, consult a doctor about prescription medications that might.


Hair dye and bleach have not been proven to kill lice in studies. Anecdotal evidence suggests that they may be effective. However, they cannot kill lice eggs, also known as nits.

Other lice removal methods are likely to be more effective. If you want to try hair dye or bleach for lice removal, use a lice comb to remove lice and nits, and keep an eye out for any leftover or live lice.

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