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All about getting lice and spreading lice……

How do people get head lice?

Lice are generally transmitted by head to head contact. Remember, head lice do not jump or fly, so an adult louse can only crawl from one hair to another. Children ages 3-12 are more susceptible to head lice because of their close contact during play and interaction. Girls get head lice far more often than boys, and women more often than men, because of the close nature of their interactions with each other.

Lice can also be spread by sharing personal items such as combs, brushes and hair accessories, or towels, hats and clothing. It is also possible to contract lice by lying on a pillow, bed, couch, chair, carpet, or anywhere else that was recently used by an infested person, although this is far less likely than by head to head contact. It is estimated that less than 10% of lice infestations are picked up through the environment.

Can lice jump or fly from one person to another?

No. Lice cannot jump or fly. Again, they have no wings or specialized jumping hind legs. Lice can only crawl, and prefer to crawl from one hair shaft to another.

Can lice be contracted from plants or pets?

No. You cannot get lice from plants or pets. Lice are a human parasite, which means that humans are the only host heads on which lice can survive. Head lice cannot live on animals, pets, or plants.

Can my American Girl dolls get lice?

No. It is not hair, but blood that they are after. Lice require human blood to survive. To my knowledge, that is one feature that the doll companies have yet to include.

Where are children most commonly exposed to head lice?

Head lice are spread through head to head contact, so they may be contracted anywhere that close interaction occurs. Schools are often blamed as breeding grounds for lice, but head lice are no more common in schools than anywhere else. Children are equally likely to come in contact with lice outside school; at camp, sleepovers, sports activities, theater troupes, birthday parties, daycares, etc.

Should I be concerned about the rest of the family?

Nit Nabbers recommends head checks for the entire family if one member is infested. Furthermore, in order to control the spread of head lice, it is also important to inform anyone who been in close contact with the infested person during the previous two weeks including classmates, teammates, and friends. Ideally, all infested individuals should be treated at the same time.

Are children with long hair more prone to infestation?

The short answer here is ‘no’. Since head lice concentrate themselves as close to the scalp as possible, having long hair does not provide any better of an environment for them in which to live. That being said, long hair is more likely to hang over and come in contact with an infested friend’s head. For that reason alone, long hair may be more prone to getting head lice. It is recommended that long hair be tied back in a braid, bun, or ponytail, especially when there is a known outbreak of head lice. Nit Nabbers also has preventative hair care products available for purchase to help deter head lice.

Should I cut my kids' hair really short?

In order for a haircut to truly have any positive impact on deterring head lice, it would have to be a buzz cut. With hair cut so close to the scalp, the head is no longer a warm and hospitable place for lice to live and reproduce. However, I can not imagine what poor Sally would look like with a buzz cut, so the better option is to keep her hair tied back and educate her about avoiding head to head contact whenever possible.

How common is head lice infection?

Head lice is a very common condition, especially among children ages 3-12. It is estimated that as many as 12 million people worldwide get head lice each year. In the United States, approximately 10% of 3-12 year olds contract lice each year.

Who is at risk?

Kids are not the only ones who can get head lice. Any person with hair on their head is vulnerable. While preschool and elementary school children, and their families, are infested most often, anyone who comes in close contact with someone who has head lice is at risk. Children ages 3-12 are more susceptible to head lice because of their close contact during play and interaction. Girls get head lice far more often than boys, and women more often than men, because of the close nature of their interactions with each other. Personal hygiene and cleanliness in the home or school have nothing to do with getting head lice.

My children and I are very clean, and so are our children’s friends. Are we still at risk for head lice?

An infestation of head lice has nothing to do with cleanliness or personal hygiene. You can not prevent your child from getting head lice by keeping them clean. In fact, head lice prefer clean hair because the nit glue adheres better to it.

Do head lice prefer one head over another?

Although the reasons are not entirely clear, head lice are attracted to some people more than others. Blood type and RH factor may be a variable.

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