Lice may be small, but the myths about them are big. We’re here to separate fact from fiction on head lice. Our FAQs feature common questions from caregivers just like you on common lice myths, tips, and tricks for eradication.

How can I tell if it's head lice?

New cases of head lice can be difficult to diagnose, so we always recommend professional, combing screenings to know for sure. If you are inspecting someone’s head at home, lice (the live bugs) are very quick. Often, your best bet is to look for lice eggs (or nits) which most commonly are found behind the ears and near the neckline at the base of the head. Viable eggs are usually located within 1/4 inch of the scalp. They can be tan, black, white, or clear and will be glued to the hair shaft near the root. They do not move easily.

An itchy scalp is a well- known symptom of head lice, but the presence or absence of itching is not a reliable indicator of lice.

I think my child has head lice. What should I do?

Call us to talk through your options. Even if you don’t choose to use our services, we’re happy to direct you to other options.

It's late at night/ after hours, and I just discovered I have head lice. Is there anything I can do immediately?

Call or send us a text at 864-484-7087. If technicians are available to answer immediately, they will. Otherwise, someone will call the next morning. In the meantime, we wouldn’t recommend any drastic moves without talking to us first. Pull your child’s hair back and make sure no one in the family goes head-to-head with each other. It’s not going to get much worse overnight- so let everyone get a good night’s sleep and tackle it in the morning. We definitely don’t advise you to stay up late washing laundry, applying a DIY clinic from the pharmacy, or searching the internet for advice. You’ll be doing a lot of needless work.

Where do head lice come from?

Head lice have been around for millions of years, and dried-up lice and their eggs have been found on the hair and scalps of Egyptian mummies! Head lice are human parasites that are uniquely adapted to be on a human head. Lice will never choose to leave a human scalp to go to inanimate objects like pillows, hats, chairs, etc. Head lice will transfer to other human heads, though.

How common are head lice infestations?

Very. It’s estimated that one in twenty children has head lice at all times. While children still are the most common targets, the teenage rate is skyrocketing- believed to be in part because of selfies. Head lice also can be a problem in assisted living facilities, hospitals and any other location where people live in close contact with others.

I'm 50- years old and have head lice. I thought this only happened to kids?

While it’s more commonly spread among children, parents and other adults are not immune. At any age, if your hair comes in contact with someone with lice- you have been exposed to an unwanted guest. Our clinics have seen and treated newborns with lice (usually transmitted unknowingly through mom or a sibling)- all the way up to elderly patients, who were exposed through family members or medical staff.

Moms are especially vulnerable. If one child has lice, a mom’s chance of contracting lice is estimated at 50%. If two children have lice, a mom’s chance of contracting lice jumps to an estimated 85%.

Are head lice a sign of poor hygiene?

A person’s degree of cleanliness or personal hygiene has no relevance to getting head lice. A common misconception is that lice infestations result from poor hygienic practices. Untrue. In fact, head lice actually seem to prefer clean hair over dirty hair.

Can you get or give head lice to your pets?

Thank goodness, no! Lice cannot be transmitted from pets, and pets cannot get them from people.

What can I do to prevent head lice?

This can be tricky. Head lice are so prevalent today that they can be difficult to avoid. Hair pulled back in a braid or a bun is a helpful deterrent. Spraying hair with an essential oil scent, such as peppermint spray, is another deterrent. Knowing that head lice are spread primarily through head-to-head contact, it makes sense to talk to your children about how they can limit their heads or hair touching friends’ heads or hair.

Only a small percentage of cases are transferred by secondary objects, but it still is wise not to share brushes, hats, scarves, etc.

How do I clean my house after head lice?

The great news is lice are not environmental, like fleas or bedbugs. They do not invade your carpets, curtains, mattresses, etc., like we grew up hearing. Lice are dependent on a human head to stay alive.

After a successful head lice treatment, we recommend a couple of precautions. Sheets should be washed in hot water and placed in a high heat dryer for 40- minutes. Brushes, hairbands, and other hair tools can be cleaned out and placed in the freezer overnight.

If there is a certain place on the couch where an infected person always sits or a car seat cover that worries you, you can either lint roll it, spot vacuum it, or take the cover off and throw it in the dryer for 40- minutes.

Otherwise, your house is not an issue. And you don’t need to waste money on the useless furniture and home sprays that are sold.

Do I have to treat my whole family if only one person has head lice?

We always recommend that everyone in a household get screened for lice, if one person has it. From there, our recommendations vary based on screening results, exposure levels, and individual circumstances.

How are head lice spread?

An estimated 98% of cases are spread through head-to-head contact. While children often are involved in spreading head lice because of close contact at schools, summer camps, sleepovers, and at home, anyone with 1/8 of an inch of hair can get it. Hugs and selfies offer plenty of opportunity for lice to transfer. Contrary to old information, very few cases are spread through secondary options, such as hats or scarves.

Still Have Questions?

Our clinicians are here to assist you.