How Contagious Are Lice? – Facts About Spread

So, how contagious are lice? This is the question we seek to find answers to.

It’s common knowledge that lice will readily spread from one human host to the next. The bigger problem is that these parasitic pests are fairly resistant to a lot of medications on the market.

Lice need a suitable host (warm-blooded) to feed and will easily spread from one to another. However, among the many species is the head louse (also called Pediculus humanus capitis).

This species gives the most nightmares to humans as they’re easily contagious.

Here, our goal is to help you figure out how close you are to getting a lice problem. Such answers will enable you to take adequate preventive measures.

Problems Caused By Lice

To help you appreciate the gravity of an infestation, it’s necessary to provide you with information on the problems caused by lice. If you’ve experienced a lice problem in the past, this shouldn’t be news to you.

However, for those who haven’t, lice feed on blood.

These pests will need to bite to draw blood. Their feeding behavior causes a tremendous amount of discomfort as you’re bound to experience an itchy scalp. This leads to scratching which inflames the area and may lead to infection.

The only way to escape is to prevent the problem in the first place which leads us back to our main focus; how contagious lice are.

Are Lice Very Contagious?

This question can be framed in many ways to serve different purposes.

Other ways to ask this question include; do lice hop? Can lice crawl? Can they jump? Can they fly? The answers to these questions will give us an idea of what to expect and how lice transfer from one host to another.

Lice are contagious and can spread from one human to another. It’s among the many infections which are common to kids. However, adults can also contact lice when they get close enough.

You might be a bit relieved to find out that lice aren’t very contagious.

Although lice will readily spread from one human to the next, there’s a lower chance of spreading it from person to person in classrooms.

  • Do Lice Hop?

The ability of pests to hop adds to the problem they pose.

It means such pests are easily mobile and move from one pest to the other. Fleas are among jumping pests and can easily jump or latch on to their closest hosts.

However, the good news is; lice do not hop.

  • Can Lice Crawl?

Lice have the ability to crawl. This still poses a challenge for homeowners as these pests can spread in homes.

However slow they move, these parasitic pests can cover a new territory which adds to their level of spread.

  • Can they Jump?

Thankfully, lice cannot jump.

As long as their spread is concerned, lice don’t have the capacity to jump onto new hosts. This situation makes it less likely to contact a lice problem by coming close to infected hosts.

  • Can they Fly?

Lice do not fly.

All the questions point to one type of movement for lice which are crawling. These answers to questions asked should enable you to better understand their movement and how to keep yourself safe by taking preventive action.

Odds Of Infestation

There have been lots of speculations about the lice exposure timeline. With such speculations come questions that seek to know how contagious lice issues are.

You’re likely reading this because you seek to find answers and we won’t disappoint you.

According to the Center for Lice Control, an overwhelming majority (about 90%) of lice transmissions arise from head-to-head or hair-to-hair contact. This is scary because a lot of touching happens between people.

Such contact comes in the form of hugs, sports, sharing of pillows, hugs, and selfies among others. These modes of transmission make lice very contagious.

So, is there hope at all? There is!

You don’t have to expose yourself to lice simply because it’s highly contagious. There are ways to check such a spread.

How Do Lice Spread?

Can you get lice from a quick hug? Yes.

Lice are contagious but how do they spread from person to person? The answer is simple! These pests will readily move to a new host when an infected person has head-to-head contact with another.

There are several ways this happens such as through hugs, use of the same hairbrush or comb with an infected person, and sharing of pillows. What more?

Head lice can easily crawl onto a helmet, hair ribbon, or hat, especially those worn by an infected person. This will increase the likelihood of their spread to new hosts.

Preventing Lice Spread

When it comes to lice prevention, a variety of methods can be adopted. These include regular combing, limiting the target area, the use of a mint spray as well as discouraging the sharing of brushes.

Additional preventive steps include visual head checks for everyone and communicating with others about your condition. You’ll also need to use treatment products containing Dimethicone.

  • Regular Combing

One of the ways to prevent the spread of lice is through regular combing head checks.

Here, the aim is to discover lice infestation early before it worsens. It doesn’t matter whether lice or their nits are found. The treatment has to commence immediately to address the problem.

This regular combing head check needs to be done in a certain way. You’ll need to wet your hair and comb outwards for about 5 minutes. Frequency also matters. As such, consider combing your hair once every week.

  • Limiting the Target Area

Try making your child’s hairs into ponytails, braids, and buns. This helps a lot to limit the spread of lice.

By limiting the target area, lice are unable to easily crawl their way back to the scalp after a combing session. Making your kid’s hair into ponytails, braids, and buns will get the hair off their face and shoulders.

This method of keeping hair up and secure will limit the easy spread of lice. Thus significantly reducing or dropping contagious levels.

  • The Use of a Mint Spray

Consider using the mint spray as a lice deterrent.

This natural remedy needs to be used frequently as its effect won’t last long. Using this product alone for lice control won’t achieve much in getting rid of the problem.

You’ll need to use mint sprays in conjunction with other strategies such as those mentioned here.

  • Discouraging the Sharing of Brushes

One of the easiest ways through which lice gets transferred to new hosts is through the common use of combs brushes, helmets, caps, hats, and any other thing that comes into contact with the scalp.

When a comb or any of the above items are shared between two individuals, there’s a strong likelihood that the comb used by the lice-infested person gets easily transferred to the other person or new host.

This is one of the easiest ways to have lice issues.

The same thing applies to caps pillows and helmets etc. For combs, these should be treated after each use with hot water. The boiling water will be too hot. As such, consider using water hot enough to make tea.

Such water should be poured into a bowl and the combs and brushes immersed in it to kill lice.

  • Visual Head Checks for Everyone

As part of your routine visual head checks, you’re likely to spot lice presence on your child’s scalp.

Under such circumstances, repeat the same process for everyone. Combing or visual head checks must be done regularly for a period of 4 weeks to ensure these parasites don’t spread from one person to the next.

You also need to tackle the problem or begin treatment immediately after the problem is noticed from the onset.

Remember, part of the inspection includes wetting the hair before combing it out. Through this process, nits and lice are gotten rid of.

  • Communicating With Others About Your Condition

Communication is necessary when it comes to lice control.

People can better manage existing infestations by taking precautions. That way, there are limited chances of spreading from person to person.

At such times, the sharing of helmets, combs, brushes, caps, etc is prohibited.

It also helps alert others as they also constantly check for early signs of lice infestation. You’ll also need to speak to a health expert for far-reaching solutions.

Health experts are always on the ground to proffer solutions to issues such as this.

By following the recommended treatment measures, you should have much better and faster control of lice issues.

Certain treatment products are likely to be recommended. This is significant because quite a lot of treatments available today don’t really work well against lice issues.

  • Using Treatment Products Containing Dimethicone

Quite a lot of over-the-counter medications are useless when it comes to lice treatment. These products make claims about providing relief but hardly do. However, not all over-the-counter products end up this way.

Those containing Dimethicone (an active ingredient known for its efficacy against lice issues) give the best results.

One of the most popular products is KaPOW! It doesn’t only provide relief from lice issues but is also safe.

Additional Preventive Measures For Lice

There are multiple ways to ensure lice issues are prevented resolved.

These double as treatment methods and also preventive measures. They include vacuuming as well as hot laundering of clothes worn 2 days before treatment began.

In vacuuming lice, you’ll need to target areas where the lice-infested person sat or lay. This includes carpets and couches. Vacuuming picks up the nits and lice dropped off on such surfaces.

When performing this task, you’ll need to change the vacuum attachment to fit the surface you’re cleaning.

Laundering infested clothing with hot water is also a necessity. You’ll need to add bed linens, pillowcases, and any other thing used by the infested person.


The likelihood of lice spreading from one host to the next is a scary prospect you’d rather avoid.

Prevention is the best possible way to stop lice spread. Only when proper preventive actions are taken do you have a limited chance of lice spread. This can be achieved in many ways.

Firstly, you’ll need to avoid the sharing of personal items such as helmets, brushes, combs, and hats. If one or more kids are infected, they’ll need to be treated and make a full recovery before such items are shared.

You may want to further restrict lice spread by tying up hair in braids, ponytails, or buns. This ensures that there’s limited spread while being treated.

A single lice problem in a home is enough to get transferred to all the members within such a family.

You’ll need to carry out a combined inspection of all members of your family. This isn’t restricted to one or a few days but several weeks. Immediate treatment helps put lice contagion in check.

You don’t want to rely on over-the-counter lice medications as a lot of these have proven to be ineffective. It’s important to look at effective medications for lice issues.

You may want to go for those containing certain active ingredients such as dimethicone.

A good hair combing is necessary at least once every week. This is done in addition to a head check. Active infestations are detected early on and necessary treatment is applied before it gets any worse.

One of the many ways to achieve deterrence is by using a mint spray. This is applied to infested surfaces to get rid of lice. Having gotten rid of adult lice, you should know that their eggs will hatch and present the same challenge.

As such, your preferred deterrent (including mint spray) should be frequently applied.

Vacuuming your rugs, carpets, and furniture will be an effective way to check lice spread. Vacuum cleaners come with multiple attachments each serving a different purpose.

Consider using those for couch cleaning on couches especially head-rest areas.

The suction power of vacuuming picks up these parasites for good. Dispose of the accumulated dirt (including lice) as far away as possible. Do this repeatedly until your lice problem is gone.


Head lice are very contagious and are common with kids. Despite the easy spread of these parasitic pests, control can still be achieved. We’ve listed preventive strategies to adopt for such treatment.

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