How Do You Get and Prevent…Head Lice?

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How Did I Get It?!Head Lice! Ugh!

Head lice infestations are endemic in the United States, particularly among school-aged children.

The beginning of the school year is often associated with lice infestations among children. Infestations take place throughout the year and commonly spread within families more than within schools. Why? Due to the close personal contact and shared brushes and combs.  In reality, infestations do not begin or end with the school year. The perceived increase in lice activity in certain seasons may have more to do with monitoring practices than with actual numbers of lice.

Head lice are most commonly spread directly by head-to-head contact. They do not jump or fly and generally cannot survive longer than 24 hours off the host. Remember, lice feed on human blood drawn from the scalp.

If lice come off the head and land on a pillow or headrest, it can transmit on the next individual that provides a home for it.

How else can I catch head lice?  When you’re in contact with personal items that will transmit head lice, such as • Hats       • Towels  • Brushes  • Helmets   • Hair Ties

How to Prevent It?

Parents often struggle to get young children to practice even basic hygiene, such as washing hands. So, asking them to minimize the risk of spreading lice is a daunting undertaking. Short-term measures to help reduce the risk of a head lice outbreak are:

  • Not sharing headgear, brushes, or combs, or washing these items before donating or sharing
  • Ensuring each family member has a personal pillow or pillowcase
  • Cleaning or disposing of things that a person with lice has used
  • Keeping children with lice home until the infestation is clear
  • Do not lie on beds, couches, pillows, carpets, or stuffed animals that have recently been in contact with a lice-infested person.

Families in which one member has lice are vulnerable to further infestation. People should check all family members for symptoms of lice, and treat as needed. Below is a Home Check List for a lice-free environment.


Home Check List
Combs & BrushesCar Seats
Ponytail HoldersRugs
Barrettes & Hair RibbonsUpholstered Furniture
HatsStuffed Animals
HelmetsJackets & Coats

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