By my own experience, lice seems to be prevalent in the hair of human children, but not in adults.

My question is Why are human children more likely to get lice than adults?


  • Can be referred to lice/louse/nits
  • $\begingroup$ I would say it is a simple psychologic phenomenon: Kids come in much closer contact than adults usually do. So there is much more chance for spreading lice. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Aug 30 '14 at 6:49
  • $\begingroup$ i think its only because there is more human to human contact - heads touching, hugs and full contact jostling in a school (and locker rooms) than at an office or other typical adult days. I simply touch fewer people than my 5 year old... $\endgroup$
    – shigeta
    Aug 30 '14 at 6:50
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks guys - add that as a full answer - and if no one has a better explanation, then I'll mark it as answered. $\endgroup$
    – hawkeye
    Aug 30 '14 at 8:13
  • $\begingroup$ "Children are most likely to get lice because of the close physical contact they have with playmates in school and day care centers." - healthvermont.gov/prevent/lice/headlice.aspx $\endgroup$
    – Amory
    Aug 30 '14 at 13:50
  • $\begingroup$ Additionally, adults get aware of the lice earlier and will then (hopefully) avoid close contact with others until it is cured. $\endgroup$
    – skymningen
    Sep 1 '14 at 7:44

Children generally don't care about their hair as much as adults do. So unless parents insist, they don't care for their hair as much (reference). Kids generally get lice because they are in close contact with each other during play-dates, slumber parties, and sports activities. They are also prone to exchange hair brushes and other personal items more often than adults (reference).

An interesting difference I came across between articles is that one article says that its

theoretically possible to get infested if your hair makes contact with items such as hats, combs, or brushes (reference).

Another article insists that

You’re extremely unlikely to get head lice by sharing hats, combs or pillows – a louse’s lifespan is very short once it’s removed from your head (reference).

Between the two, I believe that it is extremely likely that lice would spread if you use a infected hairbrush immediately after it was used by someone harboring the parasite since the time span is short.

  • $\begingroup$ Can't lice larva lie dormant in a comb or jacket as a means of transmission? $\endgroup$ Feb 2 '15 at 6:27
  • $\begingroup$ @aitchnyu Yes, but they can only stay alive upto 48 hours from the body $\endgroup$ Feb 2 '15 at 9:17

Lice prefer clean hair, so in addition to closer contact among children, adults seem to use more hair product (gel, hair spray, etc.) than children in preparation for their day. Lice have difficulty moving through hair strands that are stuck together with product, so this may also contribute to the prevalence in children.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It would be great if you could provide references for your response. $\endgroup$ Aug 30 '14 at 16:59

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