Does Hair Dye Kill Head Lice?

Does Hair Dye Kill Head Lice?
If you’ve dyed your hair before, then you definitely know the strong chemical smell of the dye and have felt the tingle on your scalp as the dye works its magic on your hair. It makes sense that a bug might have a hard time living through that kind of chemical warfare. However, does it actually work?

The Claim

If you do a Google search about whether or not hair dye kills lice, the results will give you links to success stories. The idea is that the chemicals in the dye are strong enough to eliminate the lice, that they would work similar to over the counter “lice cures” which are insecticide-based lice products.

The Variables

The claim sounds so convenient and, honestly, reasonable. Like we said, if you’ve dyed your hair, you know that whatever those dyes are made from is some strong stuff!

First, there is an issue verifying that hair dye eliminates lice because there are so many different brands. With actual lice treatments, they can study the active ingredient to see if it kills lice. With hair dye, different companies use different formulations and the chemicals are not studied for their effects on lice. Head lice are extremely resilient, and the chemicals found in hair dye have little or no effect on them.

Second, the process could have an effect on whether or not the dye treatment works. For instance, regarding the actual insecticide treatments, the CDC warns, “Do not use a combination shampoo/conditioner, or conditioner before using lice medicine. Do not re-wash the hair for 1-2 days after the lice medicine is removed.” If it’s important to be that careful about the medication that is designed specifically to kill lice, could using conditioner before the hair dye or washing too soon after affect the results?

Third, not even medicated shampoos made to kill lice will kill lice eggs (also known as nits). A chemical hair dye treatment may kill the live lice, but what about the eggs? The lice eggs are the hardest to get rid of as they are cemented to the shaft of the hair near the scalp. As with all topical products, hair dye will not penetrate the casing of the nits and therefore they might be a different color, but they will not be dead.

The Result

Alright, so what is the result? Well, the result is mixed. There have probably been people for whom dyeing their hair did the trick. And, in some cases, hair dye has worked to eliminate the live lice, but then the eggs hatched a few days later and they had to deal with the new infestation. Finally, there are many for whom hair dye just didn’t work. There are no definitive statistics for things like this.

If you wanted to dye your hair anyway, by all means, dye your hair. Just be sure to have someone monitor your hair continually for the next 10-15 days to see if it worked. You may have to experiment with different brands or leaving the dye in for different amounts of time.

If that process sounds too iffy for you, stick around, because we have an easy treatment method for you.

One More Consideration

Lice is often an issue with children. Using hair dye on children’s hair is not nearly so common. Good Housekeeping ran an article suggesting to wait until around 16 to dye hair. So, while hair dye may have some beneficial consequences for adults, it probably should not be used for children.

The Answer

So maybe you have wanted to dye your hair blue or purple or green since you were in middle school. Maybe now is the time to go for it and blame the lice!

Then, even before you begin to enjoy the attention from your new hair color, head over to the website for the Lice Clinics of America. Lice Clinics of America uses the FDA-cleared AirAllé, a medical device that eliminates live lice bugs and their eggs (nits) through dehydration and desiccation. The process takes about an hour, and there isn’t a follow up 10 days later because the lice eggs are killed during the 3-step lice treatment. One and done is how we do it.

About Lice Clinics of America

With more than 300 clinics worldwide in 30 countries, Lice Clinics of America ( is the largest network of professional head lice treatment centers in the world. Its patented heated-air device, AirAllé, has effectively treated more than 675,000 head lice infestations. Lice Clinics of America and AirAllé ( are brands owned by Larada Sciences™, Inc., which is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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