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Protect Yourself from a Re-infestation in the Future: Are the Nits Contagious?

Updated on April 16, 2017

Lice and nits on back - LiceDoctors

Picture of Lice and Nits. Are the Nits Contagious? Meredith, a mom from Charleston, called us to come to her home and treat her family for head lice. As it turned out the family had a moderate case. One of LiceDoctors' missions when we are at the home is to educate families about head lice, how they are transmitted, and how to protect yourself from a re-infestation in the future. As our technician, Carol, pulled some bugs and nit (eggs) from one of the heads she swiped the comb on a paper towel. As you can see from the picture of lice and nits, to the right, there are three large lice bugs and several smaller nits. Meredith asked our technician a question that we hear quite often: are both the lice and nits contagious? The answer to that question is that the lice are definitely contagious, and highly so, but nits are not contagious. You may have read that some schools have dropped their no nit policy, which prohibits children from remaining in school if they have nits. Based on recommendations from key medical groups such as the National Association of School Nurses and the American Association of Pediatrics, many schools have changed their policies. These organizations maintain that because nits are not contagious there is no need to bar children from school. Nits are inanimate objects. They are eggs encased with a hard shell that is glued to one side of the hair shaft. The glue is extremely strong and nits do not fall off of hair very often. In the unlikely event that a nit falls off of the head, it will die within a very short amount of time. Nits are not mobile so they cannot move from one head to another. If a nit is a viable, meaning it has not hatched and it remains in the head, it will hatch after about 10 days or so. At that point a baby bug called a nymph emerges. That baby bug takes about another 10 days until it matures and then it begins to lay eggs. When a louse is in the nit stage, it is never contagious. It does not become contagious until several days after it has hatched and the baby bug matures enough to be able to crawl to another head. If a person has multiple bugs in his or her hair, that usually means the case has been brewing for a few weeks. Usually one bug crawls into the hair and starts the problem. It lays eggs and a few weeks later after the eggs have hatched and the bugs have matured, you will see multiple bugs. No matter how many nits or lice you have in your hair, LiceDoctors will rescue you. Call us in South Carolina for same day service at 800-224-2537 or call a local number at (843) 501-9900 (Charleston), (803) 497-9034 (Columbia), or (864) 214-6933 (Greenville). We guarantee that we will eradicate the lice!