Head lice are parasites that are spread by person-to-person contact. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that between 6 million and 12 million children ages 3 to 11 get head lice each year. But there’s good news: First, lice aren’t dangerous and they don’t carry disease—but, true to their name, they are pests. Second, lice are preventable and curable.
The Centers for Disease Control offers the following tips to prevent the spread of lice:
- Avoid head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact during play and other activities at home,school,and elsewhere (sports activities, playground, slumber parties, camp).
- Do not share clothing such as hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, hair ribbons or barrettes.
- Do not share combs, brushes, or towels. Disinfest combs and brushes used by an infested person by soaking them in hot water (at least 130°F) for 5-10 minutes.
- Do not lie on beds, couches, pillows, carpets, or stuffed animals that have recently been in contact with an infested person.
- Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items that an infested person wore or used during the two days before treatment using the hot water (130°F) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry-cleaned OR sealed in a plastic bag and stored for two weeks.
- Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person sat or lay. However, spending much time and money on housecleaning activities is not necessary to avoid re-infestation by lice or nits that may have fallen off the head or crawled onto furniture or clothing.
- Do not use fumigant sprays or fogs; they are not necessary to control head lice and can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.