Myths vs Facts

Info on Head Lice

  • Head lice are wingless insects that hold onto the hair, feeding from the blood in the scalp
  • Nits are the empty egg cases left on the hair after the lice have hatched
  • Adult lice can live for as long as a month with females laying several eggs a day
  • Baby lice mature within ten days and only after that are they able to reproduce
  • Lice spread when heads come into contact so sleepovers, after-school activities, playing with friends and visiting family are often the most common places for children to pick them up and pass them on


+ “Head lice jump from one head to another.”

Head lice can only be passed by direct head to head contact – they cannot ‘jump’ or ‘fly’!

+ “Lice like to live in 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. The personal hygiene of their host is not a factor when a louse decides where to set up home. They have no preference.

+ “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. Any lice found on hairbrushes, towels, pillows, etc will be either dead or dying and unable to infest a new host.

+ “Only children get head lice.”

Head lice live just as well on adult heads as on children’s so they can be spread easily between people of all ages.

+ “Schools still check children for head lice so parents don’t have to.”

There are no more ‘nit nurses’ in schools. But parents and carers really are the best people to check their family’s hair for lice – once a week is ideal and the whole family should be checked, including adults.

+ “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 look for an infection and presume the lice were caught there.

+ “Head lice infections are inevitable. There is no way to protect against them”

There are products that, with regular use, are clinically proven to help protect against head lice infections.