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Does Hair Dye Kill Lice? Can Hair Coloring Kill Head Lice and Eggs (Nits)?

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There are multiple tried and true home remedies and medical interventions proven to eliminate lice and nits. But, recently, a new “lice treatment method” has been making its rounds on the Internet: applying hair dye.

Can it really kill lice or nits? This article will get to the bottom of this question and discuss the best methods to eliminate both lice and nits.

Does Hair Dye Kill Lice?

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Hair dyes have not been thoroughly studied for their effectiveness in treating lice. Yet, some people state that they’ve had considerable success in treating their head lice using hair dye.

The type of hair dye used in this method is permanent box hair dye, which you’ll find at department stores and beauty supply stores.

A few of the ingredients in box dye are potentially strong enough to kill off lice, including ammonia and hydrogen peroxide.

These ingredients are the key to its effectiveness. Although hair dye is harmful to lice, it is not the one-step cure to entirely delousing your hair. It may help you manage the problem, but it will not entirely solve it. 

Much of the information about this head lice treatment seems to differ based on the hair’s texture. If you want to try it yourself, make sure you purchase a permanent hair dye with ammonia.

Ammonia should help kill head lice, and permanent hair dye contains more ammonia than semi- or demi-permanent dyes. 

Hair Dye Does Not Kill Lice Eggs (or Nits)

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Hair dye is not scientifically proven to treat a head lice infestation (and can actually be damaging to your hair.) All of the evidence we have comes from unverified testimonials.

The idea of using hair dye to remove head lice eggs might seem like a good plan, but it is not for everyone and is not the primary usage of this product.

With so many scientifically proven lice and nit remedies (backed by scientific evidence and proven effective), chances are you can find a better option than hair dye.

Nits are unhatched lice eggs with a hard protective shell. Their shell is so hard that hair dye is ineffective against them.

Additionally, nits’ shells have a natural glue-like substance that adheres to your hair, and hair dye is not strong enough to dissolve this substance and remove them.

So, even if the hair dye does effectively kill the lice on your scalp, you’ll need to apply it repeatedly to kill the newly hatched lice – this isn’t good for your hair or scalp (more on this later).

Hair Dye is Not a Scientifically Proven Treatment

It is worth noting that hair dye is not a scientifically proven method of treating and eradicating head lice and nits. All of the “evidence” out there comes from unverified testimonials.

So, if you do try to use hair dye to remove nits, do so with the knowledge that it does not work for everyone and that it was not designed for this purpose.

With so many scientifically proven lice and nit remedies out there, chances are you can find a better option than hair dye. 

Dangers of Using Hair Dye for Lice Removal

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There are always some dangers when it comes to dyeing your hair, and these are especially true when it comes to using hair dye for lice removal. We’ll take a look at all of the dangers below.

Hair Damage and Reactions

Hair dye can damage your hair, causing it to thin or dry out. There is also the risk of irritation or an allergic reaction to the dye, such as itching, burning, redness, swelling, and hives or welts.

All of these reactions can occur on your scalp, neck, hands, or face, depending on where the hair dye makes contact with your skin.

For these reasons, it is not recommended to attempt to use hair dye to remove lice from your hair unless you have dyed your hair before and had no negative reactions.

Respiratory Issues

As with any hair dye or any other lice treatment, avoid getting the dye in or near your eyes, nose, and mouth, and dye your hair in a well-ventilated area.

Doing so will reduce the chances of developing respiratory issues or a serious eye injury. Some have gone blind following a hair-dyeing session due to the harsh chemicals in hair dye. 

Skin Irritation in Kids

It is also not recommended to use hair dye as a lice treatment on children, as hair dye is rarely ever safe for a child’s hair and skin.

Kids have finer hair and more sensitive skin than adults, so there’s a real chance that the hair dye could cause more harm to your child than to the lice in their hair.

Proven Methods to Get Rid of Lice and Nits

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It could take several weeks to get rid of lice and nits. Hatched lice leave behind nits that hatch within three days – this process repeatedly occurs if the infestation is not adequately controlled.

If you have lice, you have to be diligent in killing head lice and nits permanently. It may seem to be a daunting process, but ridding your hair of lice yourself is possible!

Let’s look at three proven methods for removing lice from your hair.

Lice Shampoo or Kit

The easiest way to kill and remove lice and nits is to use a lice shampoo or an over-the-counter lice elimination kit. Most of these kits or shampoos are meant to be used in addition to a fine-toothed comb.

Over-the-counter lice treatments often do not kill nits, so they may need to be applied more than once to kill the recently hatched nymphs.

If you’re looking for a one-shot treatment, you will need to talk to a doctor about available lice treatments – there are some stronger treatments that work after just one application.  

Apple Cider Vinegar 

A combination of apple cider vinegar (ACV), coconut oil, and regular shampoo is another treatment that people use at home to get rid of lice. The ACV smothers the adult hair lice and dissolves the nits’ glue.

The coconut oil further smothers the live lice, and a vigorous shampoo dislodges the lice and nits from your hair. People experience varied results from this at-home treatment, but if you don’t want to spend money on a doctor visit (or medicated shampoos), this one’s worth a try.  

Alcohol 

An alcohol treatment is another option to consider if you want to eradicate lice. Rubbing alcohol is a very strong ingredient that will suffocate and loosen the lice and nits along with the plastic bag. All you need to do is apply alcohol all over your head, avoiding your face and eyes. 

Once applied, cover your hair with a shower cap or plastic bag and allow the treatment to sit for about half an hour. You should follow up this method with shampoo to wash the alcohol from your hair and scalp.

Then use coconut oil or another hair moisturizing treatment to rehydrate your hair. This step is extremely important, as alcohol is incredibly drying to the hair. Some people substitute sesame seed or tea tree oil for the coconut oil. It’s important to note that these DIY remedies aren’t designed for killing lice.

Note: All of these lice removal methods should be repeated every three days for about two weeks to ensure that all of the lice are removed. Also, to be thorough, each treatment should be followed by a close inspection of your scalp to ensure you have removed as many of the lice as possible.

Conclusion

If you have an infestation of head lice, chances are the best solution for your problem is not hair dye. Hair dye is not scientifically proven to treat a head lice infestation (and can actually be damaging to your hair.)

Head lice treatments that contain ingredients like benzyl alcohol and pyrethrins are proven to be more effective than DIY at home lice treatments and products. The idea of using hair dye to remove head lice eggs might seem like a good plan, but it is not for everyone and is not the primary usage of this product.

With so many scientifically proven lice and nit remedies, chances are you can find a better option than hair dye. If none of the above methods work to completely rid your hair and scalp of lice and nits, we recommend that you consult a doctor to get a prescription-strength lice removal treatment.