Lice are typically spread by direct head-to-head contact, and less often can be spread by sharing clothing or belongings such as backpacks, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Once head lice fall from a host, they can survive for fewer than a couple of days, the agency adds.
The CDC suggests how to control the spread of head lice:
- Avoid head-to-head contact with an infested person.
- Do not share hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, hair ribbons or barrettes.
- Do not share combs, brushes or towels. Disinfect combs and brushes by soaking them for several hours in hot water (at least 130 degrees F).
- Avoid beds, couches, pillows, carpets, or stuffed animals that have recently been in contact with an infested person.
- Wash and dry in hot water clothing, bed sheets and other items that an infested person used.
- Items that are not washable can be dry-cleaned, or sealed in a plastic bag for two weeks.
- Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person sat or lay.
- Do not use fumigant sprays or fogs, which can be harmful to people.