Does Hair Dye Kill Head Lice?

Head lice. They are the age-old enemy of the scalp, with undeniable itching that caused everyone around you to avoid you like the plague as a child.

Contrary to popular belief, lice love clean hair just as much as dirty, and the truth is that they just want to chill out and bite your head for a little while. So, how do you get rid of lice? 

There are loads of ways to remove head lice in adults and children (that’s right, adults can get nits too), but is hair dye really one of them? 

If you’re ready for a wild ride into the world of nit destruction, it’s time to buckle up and learn all about what you can do to remove your unwanted invaders permanently. 


How Does Hair Dye Affect Lice?

There has been some anecdotal evidence to suggest that hair dye can be used to kill nits, but the reality is that there is no scientific proof to show that this is the case. In fact, the evidence seems to suggest the complete opposite. 

If you use hair dye to dye your hair when you have lice and nits (the latter being the name of the eggs), it can cause a bit of a problem.

The issue isn’t that it won’t kill most of them, but that it will dye them the same colour as your hair. This makes it really difficult to see and find them if you have someone else combing through your hair. 

In addition to this, you have to remember that only the strongest lice will breed. While most hair dyes contain ammonia persulphate or hydrogen peroxide (each of which has the potential for hair dye kill lice and nits) the success rate can be surprisingly poor.

Why? Well, lice are now pretty much immune to hydrogen peroxide, so dyes that contain this are unlikely to do anything to them.

Ammonia, on the other hand, is still relatively effective at doing this. So, if you are going to try kill head lice with hair dye, ensure it is ammonia-based. 

However, as an important side note, it is important to remember that the constant adaptation of lice means that they will likely become immune even to ammonia sooner or later. 

nits up close image

Source for image - 

Does Hair Dye Kill Lice Eggs (Nits) ?

Even if the hair dye kill lice (if it managed to get that far), it wouldn’t even touch the nits. This is because nits, the lice eggs, have a hard outer shell that protects them from chemicals and toxins. 

It will have absolutely no impact on them and will also not prevent them from hatching.

Strong Hair Dyes Are Dangerous for Kids

For kids, hair dye is actually really harmful, so it should be avoided. For starters, it can damage their hair early on, which means it will be dry and brittle once they reach adulthood.

Their scalps are also highly absorbent, which means that if hair dye is used frequently, they can have a severe (and potentially fatal) reaction. 

Some people say that using hair dye is the best option to save money when killing lice and nits, but in reality, this is far from the truth. 

You’ll end up spending a fortune, and you won’t be able to get rid of lice since the lice eggs are completely immune to the chemicals in hair dye. 

Effectively use a nit comb on a child

Safety Precautions 

There is nothing dangerous about head lice, but there are some precautions you should take when you start the removal process as well as to avoid catching them if your child or someone you know has them. They are as follows:

  • When removing head lice, always dip the comb and your fingers in water after every stroke. This ensures the lice are removed, and will also drown them. 
  • Removing head lice is a slow and meticulous process. You have to be careful and precise to ensure that they are effectively removed. 
  • To prevent lice, don’t share combs, brushes, or towels and encourage your child to do the same at school.
  • You can help prevent head lice by avoiding any activities that cause heads to touch both at school and at home.
  • Prevention is also made easier by not sharing items of clothing or accessories that are worn on the head. 

Most Effective Head Lice Treatment

One of the easiest ways to treat head lice is to use a store-bought head lice treatment. These are usually very effective and contain ingredients like tea tree oil that is toxic to head lice. 

Of course, no matter what kind of head lice treatment you use, you will also need to use head lice comb to effectively remove them from your head.

As a quick note, head lice need to be treated every day for a solid week to be effective, and after this period of time, your head will need to be checked for new lice and nits every day for two weeks to ensure they stay gone. 

If you want to try something more along the home remedy lines, there are a few you can experiment with. Wet combing is one of the easiest, and also great for getting rid of lice and lice eggs. 

nit comb for eggs and lice

All you need to do is soak the hair and use the nit comb to carefully brush each strand of hair and remove all the pesky invaders. It takes time, but it works. 

You can also suffocate the lice before you comb them out, a technique that effectively stuns them before they are removed. To do this, coat the hair or the comb with almond oil or olive oil.

Then, carefully comb the hair to remove the lice and eggs until they are gone. You can then wash the hair with regular shampoo and conditioner. Repeat daily for a week. 

Diluted essential oils like tea tree oil are highly effective against lice and their eggs. You just need to dilute it with olive oil, and you are good to go - spraying it onto the hair directly or the comb. 

You can also test a small drop of the oil on the back of your hand first to check if you have a reaction to it - always best to ensure there are no allergies first. 

If you are allergic to tea tree oil, you can also use the following:

  • lavender oil
  • neem oil
  • clove oil
  • eucalyptus oil
  • aniseed oil
  • cinnamon leaf oil
  • red thyme oil
  • peppermint oil
  • nutmeg oil


Do Hair Dryers Kill Hair Lice?

Yes, a hairdryer can kill lice. It can kill 96.7% of head lice as long as it is used daily for at least a week, and it must be blown towards the scalp for the best reach.

Of course, you will also need to comb the hair so that you can remove the dead lice and lice eggs (as well as those that survived). 

Can Head Lice Live on Pillows?

Yes, head lice can live on pillows. While head lice do not jump or fly, they do crawl and make their way onto furnishings such as pillows and headrests. As a result, it is important than you throw these in a hot wash to kill lice. 

How Long Can Lice Live on Pillows?

The good news is that head lice cannot live on pillows (or off the human body) for more than 24 hours. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about it becoming a longterm problem as long as you wash the affected bedding and treat the lice on your head. 

Does Straightening Your Hair Kill Nits?

Yes, straightening your hair will kill nits and lice. However, while this method is good at killing a good chunk of them, it will not be able to get rid of lice (all of them). 

You will need to use traditional removal methods to remove the rest, as well as the dreaded nit comb. 

Does Hair Bleach Kill Lice?

No, hair bleach won’t really kill lice. It’s an ineffective treatment that might exterminate some, but certainly not the vast majority. It is not a recommended lice removal method. Instead, use one of the techniques we have listed in the guide. 

Will Lice Treatment Ruin Hair Colour?

Yes, lice treatment can ruin hair colour. Many ingredients in traditional lice treatment are known for causing hair colour to fade and become duller. 

Additionally, if you colour your hair even a day after using lice treatment, you will pretty much ruin your hard work getting rid of lice. 

Final Thoughts

For head lice removal, using hair dye just isn’t the way forward. It’s not going to kill anything, and you’ll just end up going round and round in circles trying to kill them as they continue to hatch.

You need to use stronger and more effective methods to get rid of lice, like those listed in this guide. 

The important thing to remember is that you or your child don’t have head lice because you are dirty. Lice are attracted to your blood, and if it’s desirable, then they are going to hop on and start biting.

If you have them, there is no need to panic. Removal can be a lot easier than you think - just remember to act fast before they multiply too much. 


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