School’s out for summer, so you won’t have to worry about head lice on your kids till they head back to school in the fall — right? No need to worry, really, but the idea that lice are mostly spread at school is one of the many popular myths about head lice. Here are five of the top head lice myths:
Clean children don’t get head lice
Head lice are always unwelcome guests, but they don’t show up on dirty children any more than on clean ones. The type of lice that live on human heads like a warm place where they can hide and get a meal of blood. They like hair because they lay eggs that stick to the hair until they hatch. Heads are perfect for their purposes, and they don’t care whether those heads are clean or not.
Lice spread disease
According to the CDC, head lice don’t spread disease. They can cause itching and interfere with restful sleep, but they don’t actually pose any threat to your child’s health. That’s not something you need to worry about.
Lice can live in clothing or bedding for a long time
Without the warmth of a human head and a meal of blood, lice can only survive for a few days. When baby lice (nymphs) hatch, they need that blood and warmth right away or they will die. Lice can live away from humans on cloth surfaces for 1 to 2 days without contact with a human. Learn what precautions you need to take to rid your home of head lice in the link at the bottom of this post.
You can catch lice from dogs
There are many different kinds of lice — almost 5,000 different kinds, in fact. Lice are specialists. Human lice, including head lice, can only live off of human blood. Dog lice need dog blood. Lice from a human being can’t live on dogs, and vice versa.
Head Lice are mostly caught at school
Lice mostly spread from direct head-to-head contact. Small children at school may sit on the floor together with their heads touching as they share a toy. Students who share hairbrushes or hats could transfer lice from one to another. Students sitting at desks without putting their heads together are not very likely to catch lice. Head lice are more likely to be caught from family or close friends.
What to do if your child has head lice
If your child complains of an itchy scalp, check their head for lice. Look at the hair follicles close to the scalp for sesame seed size eggs and minuscule grey lice bugs. If you find any evidence, you can treat for head lice at home.