How Do Head Lice Spread?


Quick Answer

Head lice are most commonly spread through head-to-head contact with an infested person, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scenarios include playing with others, sports activities, camping, slumber parties and hugging. Head lice are also spread through shared clothing and belongings, although it is less common.

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Full Answer

Hair that sheds onto clothing, such as hats and scarves, may have lice or lice nits attached. When the clothing is shared, the lice or nits transfer to the other person. The nits eventually hatch into lice. Examples of belongings that facilitate the spread of head lice include bedding and furniture. Individuals should also avoid sharing personal items such as hair ties, barrettes, combs, brushes, towels and helmets, advises Healthline. /p>

Adult head lice feed on human blood and are only able to survive for about one day after detaching from the human host, explains the CDC. Young head lice only survive a few hours when unable to feed on a human host. Nits can survive for about a week, but cannot hatch when the temperature drops below that of the average human scalp.

Head lice infestations are diagnosed by finding a live young or adult louse on the scalp or hair of a person, indicates the CDC. Treatment for head lice includes the application of an over-the-counter or prescription topical medication. A fine-toothed comb is used to remove dead lice, as well as remaining live lice.

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