Head lice are only able to crawl. They cannot jump nor fly. They do, however, crawl very fast on the strand of hair, but it takes head-to-head contact before the head louse by coincidence grabs a another person’s hair and ”transfers” to a new host.
Laboratory experiments on hair-to-hair transfers indicate that, even under the most ideal conditions, transfer of head lice takes place in less than 10 per cent of the cases. Even though experiments indicate that head lice transfers do not take place as frequently as we thought; head-to-head contact is considered the paramount means of infestation.
Head lice cannot survive for very long away from the scalp of their host. Several studies in schools have demonstrated that even in classrooms with several infested children, no live head lice are found in the surroundings. Furthermore, no study has proven that hair brushes, combs, headphones or the like are transferring lice. There is therefore no need for special precautions; no need to put combs, teddy bears and caps in the freezer or hot wash all the bedding in the house. When you have a head lice infestation you need to focus your energy on where the head lice are – on the scalp.
The tenacious myth about infestation of head lice from the surroundings most probably originate from a time when body lice infestations were common. Body lice live in clothing and unlike head lice, they survive much longer in the surroundings.
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