Head Lice

Myths and Facts

Myth: It is easy to get lice.

Fact: Lice are spread by head-to-head contact and are

much harder to get than a cold, the flu, ear

infections, pink eye, strep throat or impetigo.

Myth: Avoiding lice is important, as they are dirty and

spread disease.

Fact: Lice do not spread any known disease, nor are

they impacted by dirty or clean hygiene. They are

just annoying.

Myth: Head lice are very sturdy creatures and can survive

many days off of people in furniture, linens or

clothing.

Fact: Head lice need a blood meal every few hours and

the warmth of the human scalp to survive. When

off the human body, they cannot survive for more

than 24 to 36 hours.

Myth: Nits (lice eggs) can fall off a person’s head, hatch

and cause another person to get lice.

Fact: Nits are glued to the hair shaft by a cement-like

substance and are very hard to remove. When a

nymph (baby louse) is hatched, it must quickly

have the warmth and food source of a head to

survive.

Myth: Cutting a person’s hair will prevent head lice

infestations.

Fact: The length of a person’s hair does not impact his or

her risk of getting head lice.

Myth: You can get head lice from sitting in a desk next to

someone who is infested with head lice.

Fact: Head lice are spread through direct head-to-head

contact. The lice do not hop, jump or fly, so sitting

near someone with head lice does not increase the

risk of getting the lice.

Myth: Lice are commonly spread throughout schools.

Fact: Transmissions in schools are rare. It is more

common to get head lice from family members,

overnight guests and playmates who spend a lot

of time together.

 Myth: Lice are commonly spread through hats or helmets.

Fact: Although spread through hats or helmets is

possible, it is rare. It is more common for

transmission to occur from pillows, hairbrushes

or sheets. The most common type of transmission

is from head-to-head contact.

Myth: Schools and child-care facilities should screen all

children for head lice, so everyone can be treated

and the spread of head lice will be prevented.

Fact: Having regularly scheduled mass screenings does

not reduce the incidence of head lice.

Myth: “No-nit” policies reduce the risk of head lice in

schools and child-care facilities.

Fact: Research shows “no-nit” policies do not decrease

the number of cases of head lice. They do increase

the risk of incorrect diagnosis of head lice, the

number of days children are out of school, and

negative social stigma associated with head lice.

They also may hinder academic performance.

Myth: The only way to ensure you will not get head lice

after a treatment is to remove all the nits.

Fact: Studies have shown the removal of nits immediately

after treatment with a pediculicide is usually

not necessary.

Myth: You can get lice from your dog or other pets.

Fact: Head lice are specific to humans. You can get

human lice only from other humans. You cannot

give your pets lice.

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