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A case of lice does not reflect a lack of cleanliness or personal hygiene as some would like to think.  Head lice cause itching and discomfort but are not found to transfer dangerous diseases in the United States like lice in other countries. Here are answers to the most common questions about lice:

How can I get infected with lice?

Head lice can be transferred by sharing things like brushes, combs and even hats.  They can transfer from direct head-to-head contact and lice can transfer from pillows and sheets too. But there is no evidence that lice are transferred from pets to humans.

Do head lice jump from person to person?

Head lice don’t have the body type to jump.  They are transferred only by direct contact.

How long do lice live?

Lice can only live 24 hours without a host, but with a host they can live up to 30 days.  Lice reside in pillows and sheets and return to the host for feeding.  Lice, like bed bugs, bite their hosts for blood. Their bites are annoying and itchy but are not dangerous unless they get scratched and infected.

What’s the best way to rid lice from hair?

Some feel that they should treat for lice even when they only suspect that there is an infestation.  There are no shampoos that totally kill head lice and their nits so manual removal is the only solution. Wash hair with a specialized, over-the-counter shampoo, rinse completely and then go through hair with a nit comb.  Remember that the shampoo is extremely strong and toxic so overuse is not recommended.

Two different types of louse combs used when treat of head lice.

How do I remove lice from my home?

Removing lice from your home is an extremely labor intensive project.  All fabric furniture must be completely vacuumed. Pillows and stuffed animals should be put into a garbage bag for 10 days to make sure that any nits that hatch in that time period die, separated froma host. Other items can be put into the dryer for 30 minutes on a high heat.  All sheets, pillows and comforters should be washed and dried on a hot setting. The entire house should be cleaned before treating the infected person.

How do I know if I really have head lice?

Persistent itching can be indication that an infestation exists. Professionals use a magnifying glass or a florescent light although some feel the florescent light highlights hair lint as well as nits and confuses the diagnosis.  Regardless, lice are normally visible with a magnifying glass.


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