Does Hair Dye Kill Lice?

Lice infestations can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience, and many people are searching for effective ways to get rid of these pesky bugs. One common question that arises is whether or not hair dye can kill lice. In this article, we will explore the topic and provide you with the information you need to know about using hair dye as a lice treatment.

We will discuss the effectiveness of hair dye in killing lice, any potential risks or side effects, and alternative treatments that may be more effective. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of whether or not hair dye can be used as an effective lice treatment.

What Are Lice?

To understand whether hair dye can kill lice, it’s important to first understand what lice are. Lice are small, parasitic insects that live on the scalp and feed on human blood. They are easily spread through close contact and can cause symptoms such as itching, redness, and small bumps on the scalp. Lice are most commonly found in children, but anyone can get them. They do not fly or jump, but they can crawl from one person’s hair to another’s.

The Lifespan of Lice

The Lifespan of Lice

Lice can live on the human scalp for about 30 days. During this time, they go through three stages: the egg (or nit), nymph, and adult. The eggs are laid close to the scalp and are attached to individual strands of hair. They usually hatch within 7-10 days, and the nymphs that emerge resemble adult lice but are smaller in size.

Nymphs mature into adult lice in about 7-10 days, and they can start laying eggs of their own. The adult lice can live for about 30 days, and during this time, they continue to lay eggs and reproduce. It’s important to understand the lifespan of lice to effectively treat and eliminate them.

Does Hair Dye Kill Lice?

Many people wonder if hair dye can be a solution to their lice problem. Hair dye contains chemicals that alter the color of hair, but can these chemicals also kill lice? The short answer is yes; hair dye can kill lice. The chemicals in hair dye, such as ammonia and hydrogen peroxide, are toxic to lice.

When applied, hair dye can suffocate and kill adult lice. However, it may not be as effective in eradicating lice eggs, also known as nits. Additionally, hair dye cannot penetrate the scalp and reach the eggs that are close to the scalp, as they are attached to individual strands of hair.

How to Use Hair Dye to Kill Lice

If you are considering using hair dye as a solution to your lice problem, here are some steps you can follow:

How to use hair dye to kill lice

1. Choose a hair Dye

Choose a hair dye that contains strong chemicals such as ammonia and hydrogen peroxide. These chemicals are known to be toxic to lice. Before applying the hair dye, make sure to comb through your hair with a fine-toothed comb to remove any adult lice or nits that may be present.

2. Follow the Instructions

Follow the instructions on the hair dye packaging and mix the dye according to the recommended proportions.

3. Apply the Hair Dye

Apply the hair dye evenly to your hair, making sure to cover all areas where lice may be present. It is important to focus on the roots and scalp area, as lice and nits are commonly found close to the scalp.

4. Leave it on for the Recommended Time

Leave the hair dye on for the recommended amount of time, as stated on the packaging. This will allow the chemicals in the dye to suffocate and kill the adult lice.

5. Rinse and Comb

After the recommended time has passed, rinse out the hair dye thoroughly with warm water. Make sure to remove all traces of the dye from your hair. After using hair dye, it is recommended to comb through your hair again with a fine-toothed comb to remove any remaining lice or nits.

It is important to note that while hair dye can kill adult lice, it may not be as effective in eradicating lice eggs or nits. These eggs are often attached to individual strands of hair close to the scalp. Therefore, additional steps may be necessary to completely eliminate the lice infestation.

6. Repeat if Necessary

In some cases, a single application of hair dye may not be enough to completely eliminate a lice infestation. If you still notice live lice or nits after the first treatment, you may need to repeat the process after a few days to ensure all lice are eradicated.

Risks and Side Effects of Using Hair Dye

Risks and Side Effects of Using Hair Dye

While hair dye can potentially kill lice, it’s important to consider the risks and side effects associated with using hair dye as a lice treatment. Hair dye contains chemicals that can be harsh on the scalp and may cause irritation, itching, or allergic reactions in some individuals.

It’s crucial to follow the instructions provided by the hair dye manufacturer and perform a patch test before applying it to the entire scalp. It’s also essential to avoid getting hair dye in the eyes, mouth, or open wounds, as this can cause further complications.

Alternative Treatments for Lice

If you’re considering using hair dye as a lice treatment but have concerns about its effectiveness or potential side effects, there are alternative treatments available. Over-the-counter lice treatment products, such as shampoos or sprays containing insecticides like pyrethrin or permethrin, are commonly used to eliminate lice.

These products are specifically formulated to target and kill lice and are often recommended by healthcare professionals. Additionally, manual removal of lice and their eggs using a fine-toothed comb, known as combing, can be an effective method when done consistently and thoroughly.


In conclusion, while hair dye may have some potential as a lice treatment, its effectiveness may vary, and there are potential risks and side effects to consider. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or pharmacist for advice on the best treatment options for lice. They can provide guidance based on your specific situation and recommend the most appropriate and effective course of action.


Is it safe to use hair dye for lice on children?

The safety of using hair dye on children varies by product. Some hair dyes may contain harsh chemicals that are not suitable for kids. Always consult a pediatrician before attempting this treatment on children.

Will hair dye kill lice eggs (nits)?

No, hair dye is not effective against lice eggs. You’ll need to manually remove them with a comb.

Can hair dye alone eliminate a lice infestation?

Hair dye alone is not a reliable method for eliminating a lice infestation. Lice can easily survive on other areas of the scalp, such as the nape of the neck or behind the ears, where hair dye may not reach. It is crucial to use a comprehensive lice treatment approach, including combing, washing bedding, and treating the entire household if necessary.

Read Also: