Don’t panic! Lice are not dangerous but they are contagious. Your child must be treated promptly and safely to avoid spreading lice to other friends, family members and classmates.

These are a few guidelines for you to follow to contain the spread of lice in your home as well.


Who knew? Lice can survive under water for several hours. Head lice hold tightly onto the child’s (or adult’s) hair and essentially hold their breath when under water. Contrary to some peoples’ opinions, chlorine does not kill head lice.

It is also important to know that head lice can be spread when children share towels, washcloths and any other items that have been in contact with the hair of someone who had head lice. In addition to towels, this applies to other bathing accessories like hairbrushes, combs, curlers, etc.


When you’ve had head lice in your home, it is important to properly clean the clothing, bedding and other materials the person with lice has been in contact with.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items that the infested person wore or used during the 2 days before treatment using the hot water (55°C) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry–cleaned,” OR “store in a plastic bag for two weeks.”

Doing a few loads of laundry is a lot easier and faster than filling plastic bags. According to the National Pediculosis Association, “You can also put bed linens, stuffed animals and other items in a dryer for 30 minutes.”

It is also important to wash towels, washcloths and hair accessories that have been in contact with the hair of someone who has head lice.


A common misconception about treating people and homes that have had contact with lice is that the only way to get them out of the house is to put everything in the home that is made of any type of fabric in plastic bags for two weeks and have the furniture and carpets cleaned. Not necessary!

It is suggested to vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person sat or lay. However, the risk of getting infested by a louse that has fallen onto a rug or carpet or furniture is very small. Head lice survive less than 1–2 days if they fall off a person and cannot feed; nits cannot hatch and usually die within a week if they are not kept at the same temperature as that found close to the human scalp. You don’t need to spend a lot of time or money cleaning your house.

Do not use fumigant sprays; they can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Also, soak combs and brushes in hot water (at least 55°C) for 5–10 minutes.

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