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Lice: Where do they Come from and Where do they Go?

large stone mansion with towers and turrets

Updated on June 25, 2020

By LiceDoctors Technician, Chelsea Lonergan

Clients often wonder,”why me”? What made lice choose my hair to infest? Here lice technician, Chelsea, explains what lice look for. Hint: it may not be what you think!

I’m always taken aback by how stunned clients are to learn about what lice are drawn to, how they spread, and what repels them. For some reason, lice have been consistently shrouded in mystery, with seemingly nothing but wives’ tales or legends left in their wake. You may be surprised to learn about what lice are actually searching for, why they pick the heads they do, and how contagious they are.

Whenever I’m with a client, I oftentimes hear the question, “But why would they choose her hair? She showers every day!” The truth is: lice are actually drawn to nice, clean hair. As I explain to my clients, think of your hair as a house for sale. If you’re on the market, you’re likely going to want larger, cleaner, homes. Lice are really just soon-to-be homeowners. They’re constantly searching for a nice, big, clean mansion to move into.

With that, there’s a reason why lice are rarely drawn to short hair (lucky you, dads, sons, and those with pixie cuts). The longer the hair, the more accessible it is to climb up to the head to feed. Also, the more hair, the more rooms in the house. Lice like to stay within an inch or so of the scalp, but they like having room to roam and explore. If the scalp is where their food is, think of your nice, long hair as being a mansion with a central kitchen, but tons of beautiful rooms to move around in. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

In a similar manner, think of clean hair as the equivalent of an uncluttered, open house. open house sign in green grass lawn.Why would you want to move into a home with debris everywhere? Lice—they’re just like us! They, too, are searching for a home where they can move around easily, maybe with an open concept floor plan and exposed hardwood flooring.

For many clients, the thought of cutting their long hair (or knocking down a few walls of their mansion) is too heartbreaking to even seriously consider. With this, then, it’s much easier to consider washing your hair less frequently—maybe every other day—and using hair product. Using styling or treatment products like gel, leave-in conditioner, or others helps to keep your mansion a little ‘lived in’. And a home that looks lived in is a lot less inviting for bugs trying to stake their claim.

With all this, then, clients are similarly surprised to learn how contagious lice are. While society has spread the idea that lice will crawl, sprint, jump, or fly onto any surface that they ever come close to, this just isn’t the case. First, lice can only crawl—sometimes quickly, but they’re no Usain Bolt. Second, why would a bug who has just gone through escrow and purchased its dream home (your head), want to move onto the cold pillow right next door? That’s right, it wouldn’t!

While it is certainly possible that if you comb your hair, a bug may accidentally fall onto the comb, they’re generally not looking to move on their own accord. With this, clients don’t have to worry about lice jumping onto every surface within a 50-foot radius. Rather, clients can simply spot check for any live bugs that have gotten pushed onto a comb, pillow, headband, etc. Any nits that get detached are no longer viable, and are essentially a non-threat.

two long haired girls hugging and smiling and posing, heads close together for selfie.So the biggest threat of contagion is being in close contact to other nice heads of hair; lice may like their neighbor’s home too, and want their grandkids to move right next door (so they can spend holidays together). While following the LiceDoctors treatment, be sure to limit close physical contact to have the best chance of keeping those bugs under one roof.

There is no need to suffer alone or to fight a battle that is often lost unless you are not a trained professional. LiceDoctors knows how to recognize lice and find camouflaged lice eggs (nits) in your hair. Call us in the Smithtown and Commack area at 631-306-4390 . Your experienced lice technician will come equipped to put your head lice case in the rear view mirror...where it belongs!