Head lice are a type of parasite that makes it home on the scalp. While lice are more likely to spread among children, they can be a problem for adults as well. If you or a family member has lice, you might be wondering how short to cut hair to get rid of lice for good.
Cutting hair can be tempting when you’re dealing with lice, but it’s not the best solution to the problem. Lice make their home on the scalp and can survive even when hair is cut short or shaved. However, cutting hair may make it easier to find lice and eggs.
Does Hair Length Affect Lice?
Lice can thrive in hair of any length, even if it’s extremely short.
Since lice feed off blood from the scalp, they typically stay within the first quarter inch of the hair shaft. (1)
In fact, lice can infest any area with hair, including your eyebrows and eyelashes.
Even though hair length doesn’t have an impact on your risk for lice, it can make them easier to find.
When hair is long and thick, or when it has a curly texture, it can be difficult to find lice and eggs (nits) in the hair, which can make them harder to get rid of.
How Short Should You Cut Hair To Get Rid Of Lice?
Cutting your hair short won’t be enough to get rid of lice.
As long as there’s at least a quarter-inch of hair for the lice to cling to, they’ll be able to survive. Lice can get blood from the scalp and lay eggs even on very short hair strands.
Cutting hair very short can make it easier to find lice, which means it could be a solution if you’ve tried and failed to get rid of lice in the past.
However, you’ll still need to use the right treatment and get rid of every single louse on your scalp in order to address the problem.
Just cropping your hair won’t be enough to get rid of lice.
Can Lice Survive On A Shaved Head?
Shaving your head won’t get rid of lice unless the hair is completely buzzed as close to the scalp as possible.
The hair will have to be evenly buzzed since lice could still migrate to a few longer strands.
As long as there’s enough surface area for the lice to cling to, they’ll stick around.
A shaved head will get rid of lice if the hair strands are so short that a person is basically bald. Even then, shaving isn’t a foolproof method for getting rid of lice.
If the lice can find hair to cling to, they will.
Can Lice Live In Short Hair?
Not only can lice live in short hair, but they can actually thrive in short hair.
While some studies suggest that girls are more likely to get head lice than boys, experts believe that this is because girls have more head-to-head contact. (2)
It doesn’t have anything to do with hair length.
Many people believe that lice can’t survive in short hair, but this is a myth. Hair length doesn’t matter to lice.
Since lice make their home right along the scalp, they are equally comfortable in short and long hair.
Does Cutting Hair Actually Get Rid Of Lice?
Cutting hair is an extreme reaction to lice that is unlikely to be effective.
It can be easier to find lice and nits in short hair, but it won’t get rid of the lice at all. After hair is cut, the lice on the scalp will still have to be removed.
While shaving a head close to the scalp can get rid of lice, the lice can survive as long as there’s still some hair for them to cling to.
In some cases, lice may even migrate to eyebrows or eyelashes in order to survive.
On top of that, any haircuts will have to be done at the home.
Since lice are contagious, it’s against health regulations for salons to cut hair with lice. (4)
Thankfully, there are ways to get rid of lice that don’t involve cutting your hair.
8 Alternative (Better) Treatments
This three-piece kit provides you will the tools you need to remove lice from the head and any other places they might be lurking, like upholstered furniture. It includes a lice treatment solution that’s safe for children 2 or older, a metal lice removal comb, and a lice-killing spray that’s designed to be used on bedding and furniture.
Unlike some lice removal treatments, this kit is free of harsh chemicals. It’s specifically designed to remove lice from the head and the home. The treatment is also odorless, non-irritating, and hypoallergenic.
Some over-the-counter lice treatments are ineffective because lice have developed a resistance to key ingredients. This removal kit is formulated to remove both lice and super lice, making it much more effective than your average lice shampoo.
This is a complete kit that gives you everything needed for lice removal, including a liquid lice removal gel, an applicator, and a metal lice removal comb. The product is free of harsh chemical ingredients and even has an appealing pear blossom scent.
Not only can chemical-based treatments irritate the scalp, but they’re far less effective at removing lice than they used to be. This pesticide-free kit uses effective ingredients that lice haven’t developed a resistance to, allowing you to remove lice with a single treatment.
The kit uses three steps to get rid of lice for good. First, you apply a mint serum to the hair that serves as a natural deterrent to lice. From there, you apply a mousse that makes it easier to remove lice and nits with a comb and comb all of the lice and eggs away.
If lice have been an ongoing problem in your household, a one-time treatment may not be the best solution. Instead, you’ll want to look for ways to make hair inhospitable to lice. This shampoo and conditioner nourish the hair, but it deters lice, keeping them away from the scalp.
While this product is safe for daily use, it’s especially effective to use when there’s a lice outbreak at your child’s school or daycare. The product is lightly scented, but it’s not noticeably different from a normal shampoo. Instead of reaching for scissors, you can keep lice away with this easy-to-use product.
If you want the protection of RID’s anti-lice shampoo, but you also have lice that you need to take care of now, this kit is the perfect solution. It includes a dual-action lice treatment, a metal removal comb, and the shampoo and conditioner combo that can provide hair with ongoing defense.
Not only can this treatment get rid of lice in hair, but it can keep them from coming back later on. Like the other treatments here, this product is pesticide-free, which means it should be effective against all lice and nits.
This easy-to-use and inexpensive spray is capable of killing lice on contact. It kills lice using natural ingredients like sodium chloride, which means you won’t have any issues with lice that have developed a resistance to pesticides. The kit also comes with a metal comb that you can use to remove all dead lice and nits from the hair.
All you have to do is saturate hair with the spray and give it a chance to dry. After that, you can comb lice away. Since this is such a fast and easy way to get rid of lice, it’s an especially great option for parents with young children that don’t like to sit still.
This professional-quality lice removal treatment comes straight from the Center for Lice Control. The kit provides enough product for three to eight treatments, making it an excellent choice when there’s a lice outbreak in the home. Since it doesn’t use any harsh chemicals, the products are safe for people of all ages, even babies.
The kit includes a Lice Attack Solution that’s designed to kill lice and nits and a combing spray that can be used to take care of any remaining lice when you’re combing the lice out. It also comes with a metal comb that is efficient at removing all lice and nits from the scalp.
This gentle lice removal kit gives you the tools you need to remove lice and keep them away. It includes a lice removal mousse, a metal comb for lice and nit removal, and a conditioning spray that can keep lice from coming back. In the kit, you’ll also find a sectioning hair clip that makes it easier to remove all lice from long and thick hair.
With this kit, you can treat, remove, and prevent lice, helping you avoid lice in the future. The products in the kit are free of pesticides and harsh chemicals and even have a pleasant rosemary scent.
Frequently asked questions
To successfully get rid of lice, every single louse and egg must be removed from your head. If there are lice or eggs left behind, then those lice will be able to reproduce and spread. It’s important to carefully check your hair during the removal process to make sure you’ve gotten rid of everything.
Lice die when they’re exposed to temperatures above 130 F. One of the fastest and most effective ways to eliminate lice is to combine treatment with heat. Make sure you wash bedding, clothing, hats, and other items in hot water.
While head lice prefer to live on the head, they may migrate to other areas as well, including eyebrows, eyelashes, and beards. Since lice can thrive in hair that’s as short as a quarter-inch long, they can live in beards even when they’re well-trimmed.
Lice can be highly contagious, but thankfully, they’re only able to spread through direct contact. The most common way that lice spread is by sharing hats or brushes.
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