Updated on August 10, 2020
By Tierna Moser
If you are like many parents, you may be minding your own business when you notice your child scratching his head. A light bulb goes off and you go and check to see if you see any unwanted signs of head lice. Right there in front of your face, you see a bug crawl out of the hair. After you have recovered from a heart attack, you run to get the clippers or scissors to shave or cut your child’s hair. Before you do that you check your daughter and she has it also! What is a busy parent to do? Shaving or cutting your child’s hair may be overkill and can produce lasting trauma in some children. Before you grab the razor, read below to find out more about short hair and buzz cuts and the impact, or lack of impact, they have on head lice.
Can Lice Live In Short Hair?
When deciding on a personal hair style, especially if you’ve struggled or dealt with head lice in the past, you might consider the impact a short hair cut may have on your possibility to get lice again. You may wonder can you get lice with short hair? Do lice like short hair? Many believe that it is not possible to get head lice in short hair. This is a myth. Lice are transported via direct head to head contact with someone else who has lice, or less often, with an object that has lice on it. If you have hair, any amount of hair, you can still get head lice. While having shorter hair may provide less contact area for a louse to grab onto, people with short hair can, and do, still get head lice. Even though the hair may be short, lice will be quite comfortable there.
Can You Get Lice With a Buzz Cut?
You may notice if you have a child who has a buzz cut that he or she has not gotten lice. This is not because lice cannot live in buzz cuts, it is simply because there is less surface area for a louse to grab onto. Much like having short hair may decrease your chances of getting lice, people with buzz cuts have an even smaller chance of getting lice, but they can still get lice.
Does Cutting Hair Get Rid of Lice?
Concerned parents, especially of school aged boys, often call us wanting to know does shaving or cutting the hair get rid of lice? The answer to this is usually no. If you’ve found lice and this is your first time dealing with it, you might be grasping at straws. Most families, especially those with multiple children and numerous extracurricular activities, do not have the time for repeated treatments that may or may not work so they may take drastic measures in an effort to get rid of lice quickly. But, do you have to cut your hair if you have lice? No, you don’t, and we do not recommend cutting your hair to get rid of head lice because it will not work. While having shorter hair may make the treatment of lice easier and go a little more quickly, it will not get rid of lice.
How Short to Cut Hair to Get Rid of Lice
In our experience, anyone with any amount of hair can get head lice. We have even seen infants, who are almost bald, who have head lice. So even if you shave the head, you may not get rid of the lice. The reason for that is that the bugs can cling to even a tiny piece of hair in order to get the blood (their food) from the scalp. They also do not need a long strand of hair to lay their eggs on. Most lice eggs are freshly laid within ¼ inch of the scalp, meaning that even if your hair is cut shorter than one quarter of an inch, you can still provide enough cover for a family of lice to feel right at home. So the length of the hair will need to be such that it removes the hair surface area the bugs require to cling onto. This often means that the hair needs to be shaved or buzzed one single length throughout the entire head and as close to the scalp as you can get it – basically bald.
Shaving Head to Get Rid of Lice
If you decide to shave the head to get rid of lice, there are a few things you should be aware of.
- You cannot bring your child to a salon to have this done professionally. Salons cannot treat children who have lice as that is a health code violation.
- Shaving your child’s hair may be extremely upsetting, embarrassing, or isolating for certain children. They may feel an attachment to their hair or they may feel that with a buzz cut they are a walking announcement that they have had head lice. They may think they look “stupid” with this style. There are many reasons why it may be unwise to implement this draconian measure.
- For girls, shaved heads are generally a social taboo and can really do a number on their psyche and their social lives. For certain diseases or treatments this is unavoidable; head lice is not one of them
- As noted previously, even if you shave the head, you may not get rid of the lice as bugs only need a little bit of hair to cling onto.
There Are Less Severe Methods For Treating Head Lice
If you want to cut your hair to make it easier to find and remove head lice, that is fine, although rarely, if ever, necessary. The bottom line is that while it is true that the less hair you have, the easier it is to find nits and remove them, any professional should be able to eradicate your head lice, eliminating any need to take such drastic measures to get rid of head lice.
To effectively treat head lice without traumatizing your child by unnecessarily cutting his or her hair, nits and bugs need to be physically removed from the hair. You can do this or hire a professional to do it for you. This process takes skill; practice/experience matters because you are seeking tiny eggs and bugs that camouflage in the hair. LiceDoctors technicians get rid of lice in many families every day without needing to buzz heads or cut hair…ever! Your technician will comb and handpick the nits from the hair meticulously and thoroughly. Our chemical-free treatments are so successful that we offer a 100% guarantee for 30 days! Same day treatment in the comfort of your own home Is available. Just call 800-224-2537 to schedule your appointment – you will not regret it, and neither will your family!