Home Remedies for Removing Nits

home remedies for nits

It’s every parent’s fear that his or her child will go to school and come home with an unwanted guest. One of the most dreaded elementary school horrors is getting head lice. Before head lice become a reality, it is a nit – an egg that attaches to the hair and later hatches. If you’re lucky to detect nits before they become lice, you should know a few home remedies for removing nits.

What are Nits?

Nits are another way of referring to lice eggs – which can turn into the pests that can attack your hair, body, and pubic region. Before a nit hatches, they appear as tiny yellow, tan, or brown dots. Nits are about 0.8mm by 0.3mm in size.

Causes and Signs

Nits are found within 6 millimeters of the scalp. Lice will lay nits on hair shafts located close to the surface of the skin because the temperature is ideal for keeping the eggs warm. The eggs hatch between 1 to 2 weeks after they have been laid. An individual can also come in contact with nits by wearing clothing or using an item (such as a towel) that has nits or lice on it.

Nits resemble dandruff with the exception that they cannot be shaken off or brushed out [1]. Once they have hatched, the shell left behind is white or clear.

The presence of lice is also an indication that you require nit removal. Signs that lice are in your child’s hair is an itchy scalp, the sensation that something is moving in the hair, red sores on the scalp, and swollen lymph nodes in the front and back of the neck.

Nit Removal Home Remedies

Early detection, patience, and aggressively addressing the issue will help prevent the hatching of lice eggs. To keep your child in school and free of head lice, consider the following home remedies for removing nits.

a) Comb:

When nits appear within 1 centimeter of the scalp, physically remove with a fine-toothed comb.

b) 30 Minutes in Hot Cycle:

Any clothing that a child has come in contact with since one week before nits have appeared needs to be washed for 30 minutes on the hot cycle. This suggestion also includes hats, scarves, coats, and sports uniforms.

c) Wash Bedding:

Don’t forget to wash all bedding (including sheets, blankets, pillows, pillowcases, comforter, and mattress cover). It is suggested to wash in hot water, dry on the hottest setting, and place in a sealed plastic bag (for an extra precaution) to rid bedding of nits.

d) Plastic Bags:

Clothing, towels, and other everyday items can cause reinfestation of nits if not properly addressed. If you cannot wash an item in hot water, it is necessary to store in plastic bags for up to two weeks[2]. Typical items include stuffed animals, throw pillows, barrettes, ponytail holders, hair ribbons, helmets, and necklaces.

e) Vacuum:

Use a vacuum cleaner to remove nits from mattresses, couches, chairs, rugs and floors, car seats, and car floor mats. Don’t forget to immediately dispose of the vacuum bag afterwards.

f) Vinegar:

Nits come with their own “cement,” which allows them to attach to the hair shaft. The properties found in distilled white vinegar can be used to loosen this substance to make it easier to remove nits. After shampooing, rinse the hair and scalp with vinegar. Use hot water to rinse out the vinegar.

g) Hair Straightening Comb or Iron:

The heat from a straightening tool, such as a comb or flat iron, is a chemical-free home remedy for removing nits. Not only does the intense heat kill eggs, but also eradicates head lice.

h) Coconut Scented Shampoo:

If you have only detected nits in the hair, but see no live lice, it is possible to overcome a greater problem by simply washing the hair with shampoo and removing nits using the specialized nit comb. Some people swear that coconut-scented shampoo is more effective because many pests, including lice, are not too fond of the smell.

i) Dry Hair Check:

It is better to detect nits under good lighting and when the hair is dry. The small size of the nits generally makes detection a challenging task. However, the lice eggs are also shiny when viewed at a certain angle[3]. When checking the hair, go over very small sections at a time. Take your time as you investigate the edges of the hair, at the neck, and behind the ears.

j) Your Fingernails:

Although small, it is possible to pull off nits using your fingernails.

k) Scissors:

When possible, some people will cut small sections of an individual hair to remove a nit.

l) Kill the Eggs:

After removing nits from the hair, place in a bowl of vinegar or hot, soapy water with added ammonia.

m) Vinegar and Towel:

When more than a few nits are present in the hair, create a vinegar wrap to loosen the glue that allows the egg to attach. Mix a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water. Next, thoroughly wet a towel and wrap the head with it. Leave the wet towel on the head for one hour. Remove and allow the hair to dry. Recheck for nits and repeat if necessary.

n) Vaseline:

When nits are found on the eyelashes or eyebrows, coat the pests with Vaseline (a type of petroleum jelly) and remove. It typically takes up to four applications per day to see results.


[1] http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/common/head_lice.html

[2] http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/gen_info/faqs_treat.html

[3] http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/diseases/facts/lice.htm