Summary reminder

Fact or fiction

There are many myths surrounding head lice that still exist, see below some of the more common misconceptions and the reality

Cutting a child's hair won't
necessarily help and can be
very traumatic for them



“Head lice can jump from one head to another”

Head lice can only be passed by direct head-to-head contact – they cannot jump, fly, hop or swim

“Head lice can be caught by sharing things like hairbrushes, towels or bedding”

Head lice only survive on heads, dying quickly away from their food source. Adults and nymphs can only survive for 8-24 hours without feeding or they become too dehydrated to survive. They can only be caught from human contact

“Head lice prefer clean hair”

Having head lice has nothing to do with personal hygiene, head lice can live on all types of hair and no preference exists between clean or dirty hair

“Shaving a child’s head is the best way to get rid of head lice”

Lice like to live close to the scalp and can survive on hair as short as 2mm long, so cutting hair short won’t necessarily help and can be very traumatic for the child

“Animals can carry and pass on head lice”

Head lice can only live on human beings, people can’t catch them from animals

“Head lice are only caught from other children at school”

A lot of head lice infections are caught from family and friends in the home and local community, not just at school - parents typically start to worry about lice when children go back to school so they are more likely to identify an infection and presume the lice were caught there

“The return of the nit nurse would solve the problem”

Routine head inspections are without value as a screening measure and should not be re-introduced – to check accurately the scale of the task is unfeasible


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