Head lice are a common problem, especially among children who spend a lot of time in close contact with each other. These tiny insects are parasites that feed on human blood, and they can be very difficult to get rid of once they’ve taken up residence on your scalp.
Here’s everything you need to know about who is most likely to get head lice – and how to avoid getting lice if you are exposed.
What Are the Chances of Getting Head Lice If Exposed?
Head lice are highly contagious and can spread quickly from person to person. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 6-12 million infestations occur each year in the United States, mostly among children aged 3 to 11 years old. However, anyone can get head lice regardless of age, gender, or hygiene habits.
The most common way people get lice is head-to-head contact. Common situations where this can happen are typically child sleepovers, during which kids might share pillows and come into close contact. Direct head-to-head contact might occur during sports, a game, hugging, or simply just being kids and roughhousing.
The most common situation for a lice outbreak to spread, however, is if someone in the family already has an infestation – there’s a high probability that someone else in the family will probably develop one as well. In fact, data from our own Salt Lake City clinic shows that at least 68% of families they screened have more than one person infested, and 64% of the household members are infested, on average.
How to Avoid Getting Lice From Someone?
If you’re wondering how to avoid getting lice, there are fortunately several precautions you can take right away. Here are some tips:
Avoid head-to-head contact – Avoiding direct head-to-head contact can significantly reduce your chances of getting head lice if exposed. This means avoiding hugs, leaning your head on someone else’s, and sleeping in close proximity to someone else.
Don’t share personal items – Head lice can also occasionally be transmitted through shared personal items like brushes, combs, hair accessories, hats, and helmets. It’s important to avoid sharing these items with others, especially if they have had head lice recently. If you do need to share, make sure to disinfect the item first.
Keep long hair tied up – Long hair can increase the risk of getting head lice, as it can come into contact with other people’s hair more easily. Keeping long hair tied up in a bun or ponytail can reduce the chances of contact with other people’s hair.
Regularly check for lice and nits – Checking your hair and scalp regularly for lice and nits can help catch an infestation early and prevent it from spreading. Use a fine-toothed comb to carefully inspect your hair, especially around the ears and neck. If you do find lice or nits, seek treatment immediately.
Use preventative products – There are several preventative products available, such as shampoos and sprays, that can help repel lice. These products contain natural ingredients like tea tree oil or neem oil, which are believed to be effective in preventing lice infestations. Using these products regularly can help keep lice at bay and even reduce your chances of getting lice if exposed.
Make sure everyone in the family understands how lice work – It’s important to educate yourself and your children about head lice, how they can be spread, and how to avoid getting lice from a family member. Teach your children to avoid head-to-head contact, not to share personal items, and to be aware of the signs of head lice.
How to Treat an Existing Lice Infestation
The good news is, lice aren’t nearly as contagious without head-to-head contact. If you’re already dealing with a lice outbreak, there are some convenient treatment options available.
The FDA-cleared AirAllé, a medical device that kills live lice bugs and their eggs (nits) through dehydration and desiccation. This revolutionary alternative treats head lice through a specific combination of temperature, airflow, time, and technique. Because the AirAllé device is so effective at killing lice eggs (which are the hardest for traditional lice products to kill), the chances of needing a follow-up treatment are less than 1%.
The OneCure™ Home Treatment Kit is the first and only at-home, heated-air solution clinically proven to kill lice, super lice, and 99.2% of eggs, all in a single treatment. OneCure uses the same non-toxic, pesticide-free technology proven in Lice Clinics of America clinics, but can be administered at home. The CURE! Lice Remover Kit is a home treatment kit that allows you to treat head lice with a safe, non-toxic, and pesticide-free gel that kills lice and super lice. To learn more about lice prevention and tips for treatment, visit our blog or find a lice clinic near you.