Click on each heading below to find answers to frequently asked questions about head lice and what to do about them.
Head lice are human parasites that have been around since the beginning of time. Head lice do not come from the air or from the ground. Head lice do not jump or fly. They require human blood for survival and cannot survive longer than 24 hours away from a human host. It is estimated that there are between 12 – 25 million head lice infestations a year in the United States.
Head lice are most frequently spread by direct hair to hair contact with an infested person; and less frequently through sharing personal articles such as hats, towels, brushes, helmets, or hair ties. It is occasionally possible to catch head lice via a pillow, headrest or similar item.
Head lice are most common in children ages 3-10 and their families. Moms and little girls get it more frequently than Dads and little boys due to the tendency to wear longer hair, and the associated increased risk of hair to hair contact. It has been observed that head lice prefer clean hair as the lice egg "glue" adheres better to a non-greasy, clean surface. Head lice are found across the socio-economic spectrum.
The best way to treat your home is to vacuum furniture and rugs, wash and dry bedding and previously worn clothing, and put stuffed animals away in a garbage bag for 10 days.
Pets do not need to be treated. Head lice are exclusive to human hosts.
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The best way to get rid of lice is through manual combing and nit picking. It is important for everyone in the household to be checked, and for all infested persons to be treated simultaneously. If you are unsure, seek help because if you remove 99% of the lice, you have accomplished a lot, but you will still experience a second outbreak within a week or two.