I think I might have lice!!! What should I do???

Well, first of all take a deep breath! You’re probably pretty freaked out right now and every itch is making you feel like grabbing a pair of clippers and shaving your head a little bit. But don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to treat lice with dreadlocks (contrary to what you may have heard) AND, there’s a good chance you don’t have lice anyway!

First of all, let’s make sure it’s lice to begin with. Many folks confuse the appearance of the white tips of the fallen hair follicles with nits. They are especially visible with darker here (as pictured below), but the main difference is that, well, nits are alive and your hair follicle roots not so much! Nits have legs and crawl around. Your follicles will stay put

If you’re mostly worried because you were just in close proximity to someone had lice and you didn’t know until it was too late then you can take some semi-preventative steps to prevent from getting lice if you are truly at risk but the little buggers have taken hold yet (and, again, hopefully they never will!). The three things that you can tuck into your anti-louse arsenal that lice hates most are:

  1. Only wash your dreadlocks once or twice a week! Lice actually prefers CLEAN hair because the natural oils on your hair and scalp make your head a slippery place to try and navigate.
  2. Rosemary (extract/infusion/essential oil)
  3. Tea tree oil
White bulb at root of hair follicle.


Lice (nits)If you are a fan of the General Deep Cleanse recipe in lieu of more traditional shampoos and soaps, it already contains tea tree and rosemary essential oil so it can really help repel lice and prevent them from every getting close enough to do any damage. Alternatively, you can mix it into a spray with diluted ACV or non-alcoholic witch hazel and spray away liberally. (Plus it smells great!)

If it’s too late for prevention and you’ve already got the inconvenient little critters setting up camp on your head, here is a proven lice treatment that other dreadheads have successfully used to exterminate their unwanted guests:


Treatment designed by The Crazy Lice Lady


1/2 c Olive oil
3-4 drops of Tea Tree oil

(make more as needed)

STEP 1 – KILL THE ADULT LICE: Mix & massage oil liberally into scalp.  Be sure to thickly coat the entire scalp with the oil mixture. Don’t apply oil to the dreadlocks anymore than 1 – 2″ from the scalp .  Pile dreads on top of head using rubber bands or anything that will keep them up & you don’t mind getting covered in the oil mixture. Saran wrap head tightly (but make sure it is comfortable enough for you to sleep in).  The olive oil & saran wrap help to suffocate the live lice and the tea tree oil helps to kill them.  Leave on overnight.

STEP 2 – REPEAT TO KILL LARVA/EGGS: This treatment does not kill any eggs that have been laid and not yet hatched at the time of the treatment.  They must hatch to kill them this way.  Repeat oil & saran wrap every 3 days for 2 weeks to be sure to kill ALL lice.


Don’t want to wait for more of those bugger to hatch before you can kill them? It’s not particularly fun (although neither is lice!), but one method to kill the eggs and most of the larva is also the use of high heat. To use this technique, use a blow dryer on high heat and hold 1 – 2″ away from the scalp on one side and then the other of EACH dreadlock for 30 seconds (that’s 60 seconds total!).

If you choose to use the Directed High Heat method, as this method is called, the suggested schedule of treatment would be to do the oil suffocating first, then the high heat dryer three days later followed immediately by another oil suffocating, then 3 days later with the oil again.  To really be sure doing the oil treatment 1-3 more times for a full 2 weeks will make sure any critters left hanging out on your head are good and dead!