Head lice are small, parasitic insects that live in hair and feed off blood. They are a common problem, particularly in school children, but there are ways of avoiding them.
- head lice or Pediculus humanus capitis
- body lice or Pediculus humanus corporis
- pubic lice or Pthirus pubis
Body lice are the only species of louse that can carry disease. However, it is important for people to avoid lice infestations of any kind, as they spread easily and may be difficult to get rid of. Lice may also be expensive to treat, with head lice treatment costing around
This article focuses on head lice and outlines seven different methods of preventing them.
Head lice travel by crawling across the hairs on a person’s head. They typically move at a rate of
Head lice infestations affect mostly children between
It is unclear whether lice can travel on materials such as pillowcases or clothing, but some research indicates that this may be a small risk.
A person may be able to prevent contracting and spreading head lice in
Avoid hair-to-hair contact
The main way to prevent head lice is to avoid head-to-head, and resultingly hair-to-hair, contact. This includes minimizing contact with others
- activities at home
- sports activities
- slumber parties
Wash clothing and bedding on a high heat
To decontaminate clothes and bed linens, a person should machine wash items at a minimum of
A person may also decontaminate items by sealing and storing them in a plastic bag and leaving them for
These actions should kill any living lice as well as their eggs, which people call nits.
Vacuum the floor or furniture
Do not share combs or brushes
If a person thinks they may have a head louse infestation, they should not share towels, combs, or brushes. To disinfect combs and brushes, a person should soak them in hot water that is at least
Do not share headgear
If a person thinks they may have lice, they
Do not share clothing
A person who thinks they may have lice
Do not use fumigants
In some cases, lice infestations can cause knock-on effects if a person scratches their scalp as a result of itchy louse bites. Excessive scratching
The main role of healthcare professionals regarding lice is to provide information and help to reduce any anxiety that a person may feel if they have lice. People should remember that having lice is not an indication of uncleanliness.
Treatments for head lice are typically available over the counter in the U.S. However, some head louse treatments are
A louse is a parasitic insect that feeds on blood. There are three types of lice that live off humans. These are body lice, pubic lice, and head lice.
Head lice do not pose any major hazards to a person’s health and they do not carry any diseases. However, they may cause social complications like children missing school or feelings of embarrassment. Head louse bites may also cause a person’s head to itch.
Lice transmit between people by crawling across hairs. The main way to prevent a louse infestation is to avoid head-to-head, or hair-to-hair contact.