Some activity against lice and their eggs has been identified in vitro, and in uncontrolled studies, both for essential oils and their constituent terpenoids.12, 30-33
We found no systematic reviews, RCTs, or cohort studies evaluating herbal treatments or essential oils for head lice, and no evidence of drawbacks, although a potential for toxic effects has been recognised for several essential oils.30
Herbal and other alternative therapies have become more popular with the general public, despite a lack of evidence for efficacy in this application. Although terpenoids are a major constituent of the active component of some registered products, most alternative therapies use these chemicals at low concentrations to reduce the risk of side-effects. However, such low doses will inevitably select for resistant strains of lice and some resistance to terpenoids has already been observed in the UK (IF Burgess, unpublished).
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