Head Lice FAQs

Questions about Head Lice:

1. Where do head lice come from?
Head lice are human parasites and do not come from the air or ground. In fact, head lice have probably been here since the beginning of time. Head lice and nits that have dried up have been found on the hair and scalps of Egyptian mummies.

2. How are head lice spread?
Head lice can be acquired when there is direct contact of the head or hair of someone infested with head lice. Lice can also be spread through the sharing of hats, brushes, helmets, hair accessories and other items. There is also the chance of spreading head lice through pillowslips.

3. How widespread are head lice?
The Centers for Disease Control does not track the number of head lice cases, because it’s not considered a disease. This makes it difficult to track head lice cases; however, schools and manufacturers of lice products estimate head lice cases at 12-25 million infestations a year in the United States. Most children infested with head lice are under twelve years of age.

4. Do head lice transmit or carry any disease?
While many have thought head lice to be only a nuisance, recent scientific study shows that head lice are the same species as body louse which has long been associated with diseases such as typhus and relapsing fever. Disease transmission through head louse should not be underestimated.

5. Can our family pet get head lice?
People cannot catch head lice from pets. They are human parasites and require human blood to survive.

6. How can I verify successful treatment of head lice?
You must first define treatment. Someone can be treated for head lice and still be infested. The ultimate determination that someone is no longer infested can only be accomplished with a thorough manual screening to confirm that all lice and nits are dead.