8 Ways Lice Can Spread

6 min read

8 Ways Lice Can Spread


Some caregivers know the struggle of the itching and scratching of their little ones. When they come home from school or daycare and are distraught over an irritated scalp. At first, it might not seem like anything too serious. But after a while, the child does not get better and after further investigation, they realize that something is definitely out of the ordinary. 

Head lice, if left untreated, can become more than just a pesky condition some children will encounter at some point. They can multiply rapidly and worsen over time without the proper treatment and professional care. 

While running to Google to find all the DIY treatments for head lice might seem like a good idea at first, we at The Lice Clinics strongly advise otherwise. We understand that it’s incredibly tempting to try out someone’s mayonnaise hack, but it’s not the best option for the infected individual. The key to treating head lice is timeliness and effectiveness, two things that the staff at any of our locations uphold the most. We offer an array of treatment options including our signature Lice Tech device, which is 100% guaranteed to eliminate head lice and their nits. 

Head lice can be stressful and overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to start. That is why it is important to gather as much information as you can from a professional source before committing to a treatment option.

What Are Head Lice?

Before we go into detail about treatments and how to catch head lice, let’s go over the basics: what are they?

In scientific words, head lice are called pediculus humanus capitis. In simpler words: they are a parasite specifically found on the scalp that survives on a constant blood supply. They have six legs and attached to each is a c-like curve that allows them to grasp the hair shaft firmly. When fully grown, they are about the size of a sesame seed. 

Super tiny. 

Naturally, they are light in color, although studies have shown that they can match the hair color of the infected person. Meaning that if you have darker hair and catch head lice, they will be darker compared to someone with lighter hair. 

As you noticed earlier, the word humanus is the Latin word for human. If your next thought is “Wait, lice aren’t just specific to humans?” You’d be correct. 

Fun fact: your dogs and cats can catch lice too and no, they are not the same as fleas. Because lice are species-specific, this means that they only infect the individuals they are “wired” for. Essentially, the head lice humans get cannot be spread to dogs or cats and vice versa. 

Female head lice tend to be larger than males, but they’re still difficult to see with the naked eye. 

How Fast Does Lice Spread?

We talked about children getting head lice and the importance of caregivers seeking immediate care. Although they are the demographic most likely to catch head lice, the condition is not limited to just them. 

Anyone of any age can catch head lice, although studies have shown that individuals of African American heritage and descent tend to be the least likely to be impacted. 

A female head louse can lay about 6-10 nits, or eggs, a day and they have a life expectancy of around 30 days. 

That’s a lot of eggs. 

These nits are about the size of a knot in a piece of thread and are often confused for dandruff or water droplets on the scalp. Nits are often found at about ¼ of an inch above the scalp and after about 9 days they hatch into Nymphs. 

Because they are so close to the scalp, it makes it nearly impossible to remove them with traditional hair tools or by simply washing your hair. Similarly, adult head lice are too small to be removed without the proper tools.

Now let’s say you’ve got 5 adult female head lice laying around 6-10 eggs a day, that gives you a pretty good idea as to how fast lice do spread.

Common Myths About Head Lice Transmission

One of the most common myths about lice transmission is the idea that you can catch lice from sharing hair tools or hats. Now, although it is possible it is not the most likely way you or someone you know caught head lice. So then, how does lice spread if it’s not through things that directly touch your scalp?

Direct head-to-head contact is how. 

Head lice can’t jump like fleas. They have to spread by coming into direct contact with an infected individual. Most of the time this person is a close family friend or relative, someone you would naturally be in close proximity to more often throughout your daily life. 

Remember how we talked about how head lice have those hook-like claws at the ends of each of their six legs? This is what prevents them from being easily washed or submerged away, which is another common myth. 

We also stated that head lice and nymphs (baby lice) need a constant blood supply in order to survive. Without it, they will die in a few hours. This is why it’s unlikely that you will catch head lice from sharing hair tools. Nits will probably not be on those tools either, since they are found so close to the scalp. 

On the other hand, some common ways of transmission include: 

  • Slumber parties
  • Shared beds
  • Sport activities
  • Reading circles

The Lice Clinics Difference

We at The Lice Clinics in Greenville, Anderson, and Spartanburg pride ourselves on being the one-stop destination for all of your head lice concerns. We offer a variety of treatment options to fit a number of budgets to ensure that our clients can find the right plan for themselves and/or their families. Our device called the Lice Tech will ensure that every single adult head louse and their nits are eliminated and removed from your scalp, 100% guaranteed. We hope this knowledge you now have will help you be able to answer the question with confidence: how does lice spread? For further information or to schedule an appointment, please visit our website today!

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