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How Do Kids Get Lice?

Updated on November 14, 2011

Its that time of year

With cooler weather, the hats and hoods are getting put to use and schools will have extra visitors in attendance:head lice. These sesame seed sized little critters choose our children as a host, feeding off of them and laying their eggs. The schools, however, are not the only place infestations occur and children are not always the chosen host.

Lice infest children and adults from all walks of life. Hygiene is not a factor in a louse's choice of host.


Where and How

Lice do not last more than 24 hours without a host. That can give them plenty of time to fall off of one person's head and crawl onto yours at common places like the movie theater. More commonly, lice travel from head to head from shared hats, scarves, and combs and when people work closely together like at a school. Transmission can also occur when lying on a bed, couch, pillow, or carpet.

Head lice cannot jump, but can be easily flung out of the hair when it is tossed about if it is not using it's claws to hold on to hair. The eggs a louse lays, called nits, attache to a hair strand like glue and won't travel until it hatches.

Common Questions

  • Can I get lice from my dog? No, lice are human parasites and your dog cannot give them to you. If your dog is hosting fleas, you may get by those.
  • Can I get lice from a swimming pool? Highly unlikely, but not impossible. Although chlorine does not kill the lice, most pool filters keep any loose critters from finding a new host.
  • Do lice spread disease? The CDC says that they don't but infections can occur because of the scratching involved with an infestation.


There are a variety of over the counter treatments available. Most come in the form of shampoo. Reports from parents show that these treatments don't work well with one application.

They come with these nit combs that are virtually useless for course, curly, or long hair because they break very easily. When they don't break, they end up dragging the bugs to a another part of the hair and longer hair never has a chance of getting rid of the parasite.

Electric combs have more durable medal teeth and actually kill the lice and nits on contact. One version has a high pitched tone that beeps when you use it. When it come in contact with a louse or nit it stops beeping (and working) until you remove it.

Lice gels work to keep lice and nits from being able to cling to your hair but they are not fool proof. One home remedy includes combing olive oil through the hair.


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    • frugalfamily profile image

      Brenda Trott, M.Ed 6 years ago from Houston, TX

      Thanks for your comment and vote KK. Its appreciated:)

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Years ago the first thought when finding out someone's child had lice was "They must be a terrible housekeeper". Now days it seems to be quite common. I had no idea that there was such a thing as an electronic lice comb. What a great idea. Up and useful.

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 6 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Hi, FF, what a hassle, huh? When, I was a kid we had this ringworm infestation problem. Nobody likes parasites, thanks for the information. Cred2

    • profile image

      SusieQ42 6 years ago

      True and drying is much easier than washing everything. But that vacuum cleaner is a must. God bless.

    • frugalfamily profile image

      Brenda Trott, M.Ed 6 years ago from Houston, TX

      Thanks for pointing that out SusieQ. The vacuum is your best friend when it comes o keeping these guys at bay. Because they don't last more than 24 hours without a feeding, you can tie up things like stuffed animals and things in plastic for two days. Believe it or not the dryer is known to kill them more than the soap and water from a washing machine. Don't forget they don't care if your child's head is clean or not..but combing through to keep them nit free is a must.

    • profile image

      SusieQ42 6 years ago

      I've raised 5 kids (all grown up now) so know exactly what you mean. You not only need to clean the hair but the bedding, mattresses, stuffed animals and overstuffed furniture. Vacuum, wash everything in hot water, and be sure the kids heads are clean. Good informative hub since it is that time of year again.

    • frugalfamily profile image

      Brenda Trott, M.Ed 6 years ago from Houston, TX

      Thanks Donna, I'm glad you liked it.

    • Donna Sundblad profile image

      Donna Sundblad 6 years ago from Georgia

      Informative hub. You not only explain what they are and what they aren't, but what to do about them. Voted useful!