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Going to the salon to get your hair cut and colored is meant to be a relaxing experience. However, if you walk away with head lice, this won’t be the case. Exactly how likely is it for you to catch lice from a hair salon? You may be surprised to learn that it’s very unlikely. There are strict precautions that hairdressers follow to avoid these types of situations – and they work most of the time. To be sure that your hair salon is following the right guidelines, here are a few things to be aware of. 

How Head Lice are Spread 

Fortunately, head lice cannot jump or fly from head to head. They can only crawl, and while they may be good at this, you’re unlikely to get head lice from a person sitting next to you or an inanimate object. In fact, only about 5 percent of head lice cases come from objects like couches and chairs. 

Still, the fact that hair salons are crowded and instruments are shared is concerning. By choosing your hair salon and hairdresser carefully, you can feel good about going to the salon. The key is knowing what to pay attention to, as many people use their time at the salon to relax and are unaware of the practices being followed. 

What to Watch for in Your Salon

To know if your hair salon is following the right procedures, familiarize yourself with basic disinfecting requirements. If you have any further questions or concerns, follow up with your hairdresser about their role in preventing head lice outbreaks.

  • Ensure that all hair instruments (combs, razors, scissors) come from a container with a disinfectant solution inside. If they are pulled from a drawer, ask if they are new for the day. 
  • Hairdressers should wear protective garments like gloves and aprons. This is an easy way to promote cleanliness.
  • Look at the public bathrooms and the salon in general. This is another indication of how well the salon follows good hygiene practices. 
  • Ask about a head lice policy. Hairdressers should turn away people with head lice, not to embarrass them, but to prevent an outbreak. 

While it is unlikely that you will be infected with head lice following a hair salon visit, it’s not impossible. The best things you can do are ask the right questions and pay attention to how the salon washes and disinfects instruments and takes care of their facility in general. As long as everything is well maintained, the risk for catching head lice is very low.