The Truth About Head Lice




My head itches just saying that word out loud. Ugh…anyone else?

There are many old wives’ tales and superstitions about prevention and treatment. Which ones work? What is the most effective? Do you need to burn your sheets and towels? Fumigate the house?

Lice can leave us all scratching our heads (in more ways than one!).

I have been a licensed cosmetologist for 17 years. While I have only come into contact with head lice on two occasions, I can share some helpful information on both treatment and prevention, as well as answering some of the most commonly asked questions.

So let’s get to the “nitty-gritty,” so to speak…

Lice are parasites that live on the human head and feed off of human blood. Most people have either had lice or have come into contact with someone who has. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates there are 6 million to 12 million infestations that occur each year in the United States among children 3 to 11 years of age. Despite how common it is, there are still some misconceptions about lice.

Here are answers to some of the most commonly-asked questions:

Do lice like dirty hair?

Lice prefer clean hair but will live on any human head, dirty or clean.

Can lice jump?

No, Lice can not jump; they can only crawl. This means if you get Lice, you have come in contact with someone who has it or who has sat where you were within 24 hours. Lice can not live over 24 hours without a human host.

Can animals can get lice?

No, they can not. Lice can only survive on a human host. So your animals can not get them.

Can lice spread in the river/pool?

Lice go temporarily frozen in water. The Lice hold on tightly to the hair strand. That’s why Lice can survive during showers/baths. They can still spread after water time, from a towel or a hug from your family member with Lice.

How do lice spread?

Lice can spread to you in many ways. Most commonly, lice are spread by using a hairbrush or hair-tie of someone who already has it. It usually takes about four weeks for the host to know they have lice. Because lice prefer to stay on a human head, this means that you are more likely to get it from hugging someone already infected or coming into close contact with them. Sharing someone’s towel, blanket, sweater, and pillow are other means of transmission; however, lice prefer to stay on the host.


Fairy Tales Lice Prevention Rosemary Repel Shampoo, Conditioner, and Conditioning Spray work wonders! I highly recommend these products for all children in daycare, school, camp, or aftercare. In fact, everyone in our household uses the detangling spray if we go to the movies or similar places. We use the conditioning spray heavily in our hair to help repel head lice right before leaving. You need to use these products consistently to get the full effects (not just once a week). While these products are incredibly effective for preventing/repelling lice, they will NOT get rid of lice.

Do NOT share hairbrushes, hair-ties, hats, pillows, blankets, or towels with others.

When at school, sports practice, or even a friend’s house, ask your children to keep their belongings in their bags when they are not using them. If your child takes a sweater to school or a hairbrush to use after PE, make sure it’s not left in a locker or common area for someone to pick up by mistake.



These are also not acceptable treatments for going back to school. You must have a CDC-approved treatment for your child to return to school or daycare.

If you or your family get head lice, here’s what to do:

  1. Use an at-home treatment. There are several approved treatments on Some include A-200, Pronto, R&C, Rid, Triple X, Nix. A doctor can also prescribe treatments such as Ulesfia lotion or Sklice lotion, as well.
  2. Go to a local Lice Removal/Treatment Salon to get treated. DO NOT GO TO A HAIR SALON! There are three places in our area: LiceDoctors Lice Treatment and Lice Removal, Gulf Coast Lice Removal in Daphne, AL, and LiceDoctors Lice Removal of Destin. These salons are strictly for lice removal and treatment.
  3. Treat your home. Vacuum the carpet and all furniture. Wash and dry all bedding, blankets, and clothing on the hottest settings in the washer and dryer. Be sure to dry all pillows on the highest heat setting for 30 minutes. Boil all brushes and hair-ties for 20 minutes, or discard and buy new ones.
  4. For items that you cannot vacuum or wash, bag them or lock them in a room where nobody goes (even lock the door so nobody would accidentally go in.) You can do that for a minimum of three days or up to two weeks. This method will starve the lice, and they will not be able to survive.
  5. Treat the hair again 7-9 days after the first treatment. If you/your family member still have lice, call your doctor to ask about a prescription treatment.

I remember getting lice in elementary school and then again in middle school. My friends had it too, but we were all afraid to tell each other. Thankfully our parents contacted each other so we could all be treated simultaneously, which helped us from passing it back and forth.

As a parent, I am dreading the day we have to go through this. And when we do, I’ll take a deep breath, have some wine, and handle the situation (after a small meltdown, of course!).

Remember, you don’t get lice because you are dirty or unclean. It happens to everyone, and it isn’t something to be embarrassed about. Lice do not discriminate. 



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