Head lice are parasites that live on human hair and feed on blood from the scalp. They are transmitted from person to person through contact with hair care accessories, direct hair-to-hair contact, and bed linens. They only survive for 1-2 days without feeding, so it's unlikely that they will spread if one has fallen off of a host and can't feed. Here are a few ways to avoid spreading lice.

How to Avoid Spreading Lice

  • Do not share hair brushes, combs, accessories, hats, scarves or towels with someone who may be infected. Soak combs and brushes in very hot water for 10 minutes.
  • Avoid hair-to-hair contact at sleepovers, activities, etc.
  • Wash bed linens, pillowcases and blankets of an infected person in hot water and dry on high heat. Wash or dry clean any clothing that was worn by the infested person a few days before treatment.
  • Vacuum carpets and furniture. It's unlikely that lice will be spread this way, but take the precaution.
  • Treat the infested person as soon as possible. There many over the counter products that work to kill lice, but if lice seem unaffected a few days after treatment, contact a doctor. You may need a prescription treatment.

Lice are most common among school-age children. Use these tips to avoid spreading lice and re-infestations. Lice cannot be killed by regular shampooing. Make sure your children know how to avoid lice at sleepovers, camping or any close-contact activities. Common signs are itching, soreness or redness of the scalp. If you notice any of these signs, examine your child's hair and scalp.