PARENTS

Can Adults Get Lice?

12/09/2016 09:29 EST | Updated 12/09/2016 09:29 EST

Short answer: yes. While kids tend to get head lice more often, adult hair can most definitely house an infestation.

Teachers, moms, dads, daycare providers... no one is immune to the creepy crawlies. (You can even get it if you aren't around kids.)

And if you think there's shame and stigma around kid's lice, that's nothing compared to adult lice.

As writer Kate Newman explained on XOJane: "My friends think that I’m gross and shameless for broadcasting my lice across the internet."

But that didn't stop her from boldly writing "I'VE HAD ADULT LICE! Here's What To Do If It Happens to You" and describing how she first discovered she was infested: "I sat on a plastic stool listening to one of the kids in the after-school program where I volunteer read a poem she wrote. When I reached behind my ear to scratch an itch, something caught under my finger nail, so I absent-mindedly pulled it out to inspect it. It was a bug."

Lice in adults can easily get missed because, well, we just don't think of it. (And really, we don't even want to think of the possibility.)

On CBC's Metro Morning, one anonymous mom (did we mention shame and stigma?) talked about having an extremely itchy neck and eyebrows a couple of years ago.

She went to the doctor and was referred to a dermatologist, where they discussed using different detergents, but lice never entered the conversation -- or her worst nightmares.

It wasn't until the mom-of-two pulled a live bug out of her hair one night that she clued in.

Then she went to the bathroom and shook her hair out: "It rained bugs. It just poured out of my hair. I was telling myself 'This could not possibly be, there's no way I could have lice.' I was so shocked and disgusted. I was screaming."

An expert lice remover came over the next day and discovered that while the woman's head was infested, only her son had a few nits. Everyone else was lice free.

Lice is usually spread via head-to-head contact, and they figured out she must have picked up the lice on a plane trip.

"She said she sees so many adults who have lice and she said that lice are kind of everywhere. And while kids are more likely to get lice than their parents, it's not always the case that the kids give the parents the lice, it can be that the parents give the kids the lice."

Best thing you can do is to prepare yourself. Click here for the most effective ways to get rid of the pesky bugs.

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