Family Health Guide

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Lice: Causes

Lice have been around since prehistoric times; they’ve even been spotted on Egyptian mummies. They are not as contagious as most people think; they’re spread by direct contact between individuals (such as when your child is huddled over her desk working on a group art project, or snuggled close to her buddy during story time). They can also be spread by sharing personal items such as combs, brushes, or hats. Contrary to popular belief, they cannot jump or fly from one person to another, and contracting lice has nothing to do with hygiene or how often you wash your hair, says Joseph A. Bocchini Jr., M.D., chairman of the department of pediatrics at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport and the other author of the AAP’s clinical report.