Head lice are extremely contagious. They are the second most communicable disease affecting school children according to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention. Though they are unable to jump or fly, their claws allow them to move swiftly across the hair shaft of one person to another. They also can move from the head to objects such as furniture, clothes and bedding. Knowing how they are spread may help prevent them in the long run.
Put your heads together. Head-to-head contact is the most common mode of transmission for these parasitic creatures. This is what makes them so common among schoolchildren who play together. These children go home and interact closely with their family, hugging and playing, making it easier for lice to spread.
Share hair items. Using the same hairbrush or comb as someone with head lice is another means of transmission, as is sharing hair items such as barrettes or hair ties. Wearing another person's hat who has head lice is another quick way to catch it yourself.
Using contaminated items. This includes items such as the same towel the infected person has used to dry their hair with, or wearing a piece of their clothing, especially a shirt. The best form of prevention is to use fresh towels after showering or washing your hair, and always wear your own clothing rather than borrowing someone else's.
Go sleep in their bed. Pillows, blankets and sheets are major infestation items. If you use the infected person's bedding, or sleep in their bed, your risk of becoming infected with head lice increases greatly.
Sit on their furniture. This is how head lice can spread through families, or can be spread to people outside the family. When the infected person sits or lays on their furniture, the adult lice infest it easily, including their eggs. When you sit on the furniture and touch the area with your own head, they attach themselves to your hair follicles.