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Everyone knows that lice are contagious, but exactly how contagious are they? If your child is near another child with lice, are they guaranteed to get it? If one sibling has lice, will their brothers and sisters get it, too? 

To understand how contagious lice are at a given point in time, it’s important to understand their life cycle and how they are spread. 

Adult Female Fertilized Louse: The One to Worry About 

A person is only contagious when they are carrying an adult female fertilized louse. This female louse is the nit layer, so she’s the one that can spread the infestation. If it’s a male louse that makes it onto your child’s head, he will die within the month and that’s that. 

Additionally, lice rarely travel in pairs, so the chance of your child having multiple lice crawling onto their head is low. However, if your child has repeated contact with an infested person, it’s more likely for additional lice to spread. 

It’s also important to know that most cases of head lice are spread from head-to-head contact, such as when taking selfies or playing video games. They are generally not transferred from a surface to a child, though you still want to teach your child not to share hats, scarves, hair accessories, etc. 

While lice are contagious, being near someone with the infestation is not a guarantee that your child will get lice. An adult female louse with fertilized eggs would have to crawl onto their head. And, your child would most likely have to have head-to-head contact with the child. Of course, no one is safe from lice 100% of the time. If you have hair, you can get lice. It’s as simple as that. 

Making Sure the Infestation is Gone 

If your child is unlucky and gets head lice, rest assured that there are safe, effective treatments available. Do your homework, as not all products are created equal. Choose lice removal products that are safe, effective and without insecticides. 

Also, once you apply the treatment, make sure you continue to do a thorough combing with a proper nit comb. You can hire a professional nit picker to do this as well. Too often, people think that one treatment is enough and end up with head lice again. They are not reinfested – the first treatment just wasn’t enough.

At My Hair Helpers, we recommend a second treatment for most people. The lice may be gone, but there could be eggs that were left behind. If these eggs hatch, they can start a new infestation. Our products are now available on Amazon, so check us out! And, if you live locally in Southern California, you can schedule an appointment for lice treatment services in our salon or the comfort of your home.