COVID-19 and Head Lice: 5 Things They Have in Common

Schools have enough challenges keeping head lice outbreaks from happening and no doubt will be challenged to minimize the spread of COVID-19.  So with schools starting up this time of year that got us to thinking about some of the things COVID-19 and Head Lice have in common:

1.Not Always Simple to Identify the Symptoms:

Determining if someone has COVID-19 or Head Lice can be a great challenge. Many people with COVID-19 or head lice have asymptomatic symptoms.  Someone who is asymptomatic has the COVID-19 infection but no symptoms and will not develop them later. Someone who is pre-symptomatic has the infection but does not have symptoms yet. Both groups can spread the infection. For head lice, a person can have head lice but show no symptoms such as itching or seeing anything in their head such as a lice egg or an adult lice crawling around and can easily spread head lice to others without realizing they have and active head lice infection.  

2. Social Contact Spread

You get both COVID-19 and head lice from someone else. COVID-19 spreads easily and often because it is spread by those who don’t know they’re infected.  Studies show that individuals who are pre-symptomatic are infectious for two to three days before having any symptoms. Similarly, most people have had lice for several weeks before they realize they even have it and by that time they have infested others around them. The reason many do not realize they have an active case of lice is because head lice eggs do not move and are the size of a grain of sand while adult lice die within 30 days or transfer to another head.  Itching is an allergic reaction to the saliva in head lice however only 40% of the people that have head lice itching.     

3. Minimizing the spread

COVID-19 is spread through close contact with someone that has it. Some of the easiest and most effective ways that we can limit the spread of COVID-19 is to practice physical distancing, wear a face-covering in public, and wash hands often.   Similarly, head lice do not hop, jump, or fly.  They only crawl.  Head-to-head contact is the primary way to spread head lice. Examples of easy ways to get head lice include selfies, hugging, sleeping next to someone, and sharing an ipad.

4. Testing and Screening

It is impossible to know if you are COVID-free, asymptomatic, or pre-symptomatic in the absence of a test.  A person should assume they have COVID-10 when in public and when interacting with others.  By practicing these proven public health practices, we can help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and protect everyone.  Similarly, there is no specific test to determine if you have head lice or not so confirming an active head lice infestation requires a strand-by-strand head screen that can take as quick as a few second and up to 20 minutes depending on the length of hair and level of infestation. All lice need is one strand of hair to live on and lay their eggs.   Similar to COVID-19, when there is a case of head lice in your family, it is absolutely critical to screen all immediate family members.  You should always assume all immediate family have head lice until they are confirmed they do not, because they usually do. Moms get lice about 80% of the time, siblings about 70% of the time, grandmothers about 35% of the time, and dad’s about 20% of the time

5. Trust and Confidence

If an active case is confirmed, you need to have trust and confidence in the process. For COVID-19, you need to have faith that the test is accurate and that you do truly have COVID-19.  You then must be sure to properly quarantine yourself or if medical treatment is required, you must make sure you are properly treated by a medical professional and/or have the right medication.  Once you have a confirmed case of head lice, treating head lice yourself is an option. It takes time, patience, accuracy, and a high-quality lice comb and you must repeat the process several times with no guarantee that your problem is solved. Many families choose to use the services of a professional head lice service such as Torrance Lice Removal since we do this for a living and our treatment process has a 99%+ success rate along with our 30 day lice free guarantee.