The Truth About Head Lice You Need to Know

The Truth About Head Lice You Need to Know

Head lice are tiny insects that live on human heads, specifically close to the scalp, and love to drink human blood. Most parents might be familiar with head lice and the nuisance they can be, considering the fact that around six million to twelve million infestations occur in the United States each year among kids aged between three to eleven years. This is a reason why parents dread the start of the school year; it’s only a matter of time until the much dreaded call from school regarding their kids’ lice problems is made. 

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There are rumours and stories spreading about lice that can mess with your head, and it’s time to get the facts straight. Here are a few truths about head lice that you need to know:

  • Head lice don’t spread dangerous diseases
  • Lice can be extremely annoying, but they don’t really spread any diseases as such, like mosquitoes or rodents. However they can make your scalp itchy and cause sores when you scratch your head excessively due to irritation. They can also make you lose sleep if the infestation is severe. Generally, the irritation from head lice start around 4-6 weeks after your head is infested. 

  • A head lice infestation isn’t related to how clean or dirty a person’s body is
  • All that matters to head lice is free access to a human head to live on and fresh blood to indulge on. It doesn’t really matter if you wash your hair regularly or not; hygiene and head lice are not related. Head lice can be pretty clingy and washing your hair with shampoo won’t make them let go of your hair that easily, if at all. 

  • Cutting your hair shorter won’t prevent a head lice infestation
  • If cutting hair off could prevent head lice, boys who (generally) have short hair wouldn’t have head lice problems too. Lice can live in hair that is buzzed short and thus, unless you are planning to make yourself completely bald, there is no point in cutting hair short to prevent head lice. Moreover, there is no need for you or your child to cut off your precious hair due to head lice. There are lice sprays that can help you out with such issues and let you keep your hairstyle intact. 

  • Adults aren’t immune to a head lice infestation
  • Lice don’t discriminate between a child and an adult’s head. All they need is human blood, and they are always on the lookout for fresh heads to infest. Adults with school-going children are more prone to end up with a lice infestation, since they will have closer contact with children who could have picked up a few lice from school. So if your kid has ever been diagnosed with head lice, it would be a good idea to have your own hair and that of the rest of your family checked as well.

  • Your pet cannot spread head lice to your family
  • You might be suspicious about your pet when it comes to pest infestations in your home, but in the case of head lice, you can rule out your pet’s involvement. Lice thrive on human heads and blood, and thus do not live on animals, especially on your pet. Thus you only have to worry about head to head contact with other humans and not with animals in terms of head lice. 

  • Head lice cannot jump, swim or fly
  • It is a frequently asked question by curious and concerned parents whether head lice can jump, swim or fly. The truth is that they can crawl pretty well, reproduce and feed on blood, but they cannot do anything else like other pests that keep flying and jumping around your home. Head lice can transfer from one person to another only through direct contact with the hair of an infested person.

  • Head lice don’t live long
  • Adult lice can live upto thirty days as long as they have access to a warm human head and fresh blood. However, if they stay apart from a human host and are cut off from their food source, they can live for only one to two days. Therefore, even if lice in your head transfer to your sheets, comb or clothing, they won’t survive for much longer than two days. If you are still worried, you can wash your sheets in hot water or seal it away in a plastic bag for a few days or weeks. 

    Head lice can be unpleasant to say the least, but they are nothing to fret and stay awake thinking about. The good news is that they are not dangerous and cannot cause long term health risks. Furthermore, they can be spotted and treated easily without much hassle.

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