Updated on September 3, 2020
Updated By Diana Doty
Can You Get Lice On Your Holiday?
Can You Get Lice From A Hotel Pillow?
When you check into a hotel room, it is important to check for bugs, but not head lice! Bed bugs look similar to lice, and can be found in hotel rooms, so do pull up the corners of the fitted sheet to check around the edges of the bed for tiny bed bugs 1st thing. Bed bugs and lice look similar, but act very different, and the short answer to “can you get lice from a hotel” is “not likely”. As long as the bedding is changed between guests, your chances of getting lice from a hotel pillow are nearly zero. Read on to find out why...
Can You Get Lice From Airplane Seats?
Standing in line to board your plane, you get anxious, recalling that your friend picked up a case of head lice on her last vacation. You’re about to spend 4 hours sitting on those seats. Just how clean are they? Can you get lice from airplanes?!
We don’t know exactly what goes into cleaning seats between flights, but we do know that it is very unlikely that you will get a case of lice from an airplane seat. Lice do not intentionally leave a human head (where their food supply is: human blood) unless they have another head very closeby. Think of it like kids swinging hand over hand on the monkey bars at the playground, trying to keep off the ground: if there’s another set of monkey bars they can swing to without touching the ground, they’ll transfer, but otherwise they’ll turn around and go back. Lice are the same with human hair. They don’t move very well out of the hair, because their short arms are adapted only to swing from hair to hair, they can’t fly or jump across a flat surface. If they do accidentally fall off the head and onto a seat, there would only be a short window of time they’d survive, hoping to get on a new head before they starve to death (less than a day). Nits (lice eggs) are glued to the hair and it is even less likely that they will fall out. If a nit does get pulled out of the hair, it will never reattach, and won’t hatch when it’s not on a head (there’s no body heat to incubate it).
BUT you say, that means it is possible to get lice on a plane! Technically, yes, but the chances are extremely small.
Can You Get Lice From A Car Seat?
What if you plan to use a rental car, or take a bus, train, subway, taxi, Uber, or limo when you get to your destination? The same rules apply as on the plane: technically, it is possible to get lice from a rental car, but the chances are extremely small. Chances would be a little higher in a car that people get in and out of frequently, since it’s exposed to more people who could have lice, but the chances are still very small. Your highest chances are on a bus, train, or subway, since you may need to sit or stand close to other people.
Can You Get Lice From A Lake?
Lice don’t live off of human heads, so you can’t get lice from the beach, lake, woods, or any outdoor environment. Parents who spot lice right after a weekend getaway often ask us, “Can you get lice from lake water? My kids swam in the lake and now they have lice.” The truth is, the kids got lice from other humans, and if your kids were playing with other kids in the pool or lake or ocean, that’s where the lice came from.
Travel Tips To Avoid Lice On Your Vacation
The absolute BEST way to avoid catching lice is to keep your hair up and away from other people. Wear long hair up in a bun on top of your head and use hairspray, oil, or leave-in conditioner (lice love squeaky-clean hair best). LiceDoctors offers a lice repellent that helps ward off lice.
When you get to your plane seat, wipe off the seat with a tissue before you sit down. In the unlikely chance that there is a louse there, it will wipe away (remember, they’re terrible at moving anywhere but in hair, so it’s unlikely to run up your arm while you’re wiping).
After the flight, if you get on public transit, repeat the wiping process, and try not to lay your head against the seat if you can comfortably do so.
Instead of worrying, take this travel time to relax, and envision your upcoming vacation enthusiastically! As commonplace as lice are, the best prevention is to focus on avoiding hair-to-hair contact. It is highly unlikely that you will contract lice from anything other than another person. Bon voyage!