Can You Get Head Lice from a Hair Salon?

Do you get anxious about catching head lice from a hair salon? Many people go in and out of hair salons and that may make you wonder if you can get head lice from a hair salon. But is it really something you should be concerned about? It is possible… But it’s also very unlikely for you to pick up head lice from a hair salon.

How head lice can spread in a hair salon

There are three ways to get head lice from such a place. You can get them directly from an infested person. You can also get wandering head lice from hair salon equipment and furniture.

  • You can get head lice from direct contact with an infested person. Head lice cannot fly or jump, so standing next to someone who has these pests will not give you head lice. These parasites can only crawl. But don’t be too complacent. They are very good at this one mode of travel. The most common way to get head lice is direct head-to-head contact with an infested person because the head lice can cling to your hair quickly. However, you are not going to bump heads with someone at the hair salon, and that’s why you are not likely to get the pests from such a place.
  • Head lice can cling to hair salon equipment. Another way to get head lice is the use of the personal items of an infested person, especially the items that are used on hair. These include combs, helmets, ribbons, and towels. Unfortunately, you can find a lot of these items in hair salons, and there is a small chance that they have the bloodsucking insects on them. But there’s one upside to this — head lice need to feed on a host’s blood every four hours. Without blood meals for a day or two, they die. Hair salons also have protocols to ensure that their equipment is clean and good as new, so you are not likely to get these pests from the equipment as well.
  • Head lice can wander in hair salon furniture. Head lice know they are vulnerable without a host. This is why they cling so tightly to their host’s head. But there are times where they can be dislodged and end up in the host’s personal items. They can also end up in mattresses, pillows, sheets, and other areas in the host’s home. In the hair salon, they can end up in the soft-cushioned chairs, tables, and everywhere else an infested person has been.
You can get head lice in a hair salon through the equipment.

How to avoid getting head lice from your hair salon

You are not likely to get head lice from the hair salon because you don’t bump heads with other people there, not to mention that the hair salon equipment and furniture are not likely to harbor head lice either. But if you are really conscious about it, here are some things you can actively do.

  • Ask if the hair salon has a head lice policy. Since hair salons deal with hair, it’s only natural for them to think about head lice and what to do with them. Hair salons typically have a head lice policy. Some national and local governments even require them. Most hair salons refuse to serve people with head lice. But take note that they are not discriminating against or trying to embarrass infested customers. They are simply trying to protect their other customers from a potential outbreak.
  • Observe the hairdressers and how they act. Even if the hair salon has a head lice policy, you should not be complacent. You don’t know if the policy, or other health policies for that matter, is properly enforced. Look at the hairdressers to see if they have the proper protective equipment like aprons, gloves, and masks. Look at the way they act as well and see how they handle their tools, like brushes and scissors. Be suspicious if you observe that they don’t even clean their tools between customers and reuse washable fabrics like towels and wraps.
  • Look at the cleanliness of the hair salon and its public bathroom. Looking at the public bathroom is also a good way to see if the hair salon cares about enforcing its health protocols. If you find the public bathroom unsanitary, be careful. The hair salon may not care much about your hair as much as you do.

What you can do if you get head lice

As much as possible, treat head lice only with proven methods. Without proper treatment, you can fail to treat your head lice infestation. And worse, you can even transfer the pests to your loved ones.

  • Don’t rely on natural remedies. There are so many articles online talking about natural solutions to head lice. But of course, many of these articles are just copy-pastes of each other, so some of them are just outright wrong. For example, many articles will tell you that you can kill head lice with salt. It’s technically true. But it’s so ineffective that you might as well not bother. If you want to try natural remedies, at least try those that are somewhat backed by science, like coconut oil.
  • Get traditional medications. There are over-the-counter medications you can try to get rid of your head lice. Usually, their main ingredients are permethrin or pyrethrin. Sure, some head lice are starting to gain resistance against these common ingredients. They are called super lice. But for most cases, these common over-the-counter medications are enough. Simply follow the instructions on the labels.
  • Consult a doctor for severe cases. Over-the-counter medications are generalist remedies, so it’s understandable if they fail to treat your head lice even though you have followed the instructions diligently. If you want a medication that is better suited for your specific case, you can consult a doctor. They can give you access to stronger ingredients, such as benzyl alcohol, ivermectin, malathion, and spinosad.

You can get head lice from the hair salon

Technically speaking, you can get head lice from a hair salon. But it’s so unlikely to happen that you shouldn’t even be worried about it. But if you are really anxious about it, ask about the hair salon’s head lice policy and observe the hairdressers and the cleanliness of the surroundings.

In the off-chance that you do get head lice, over-the-counter medications and proven natural solutions are your friends. But don’t hesitate to seek a medical professional if you feel like your head lice problem is beyond your control.

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