Where do lice come from?

by Bev
(Joliet, IL)

Where Do Head Lice Come From Originally?

Where Do Head Lice Come From Originally?

Where do lice come from in the first place?

I understand that lice are human parasites. My question is, how does the first one appear?

What causes lice to become known to us?

Without "catching" lice from another person, where does the first one come from and how does that happen?

Hi Bev,

I assume you are asking where lice come from when they appear on our person, rather than where did they initially originated in the beginning (Creation). :)

Lice do not suddenly appear on a person without them being in contact with someone else who has had them and passed them on.

You may not realize that you've been close enough to someone with head lice to have them jump onto you, but if you've got lice, you had to be in the vicinity of a person who was carrying them.

Children are the usual carriers of lice because they are generally in much more close contact with each other than adults.

For example, little girls will have their heads together while playing. Boys may grab a friend's ball cap and put it on their head. Kids are quite happy to share combs and brushes without a second thought.

These are just some of the simple points of contact that allow lice to travel from place to place spreading the little critters around. Of course, just giving another person a hug gives the lice a chance to make their "move."

You usually don't realize that you've acquired some visitors until your head starts itching. By then, they've already started to take up residence on your head and begin to multiply.

If this happens to you, I feel the best solution is to simply cover the entire head (and all hair) with olive oil, wrap it in a towel and leave it on overnight. Wash it out in the morning with a clarifying shampoo (or good dish soap).

Do this every 4 days for 2 weeks and you should eliminate the problem entirely. You will suffocate the lice without having to apply toxic chemicals to your head that often don't kill the lice anyway.

Angie from allaboutparasites.com

Comments for Where do lice come from?

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Mar 29, 2019
by: cccccccccccccc

I wanted to know but reading the comments make my head itch -_- Maybe they come from reading it haha. Just kidding! I wish I knew! I looked everywhere. This does not answer my question. Where did they start from? The ground? Trees? They say they can only survive on humans. So does this mean that at least one person has it all year around? That's insane! Someone is not telling the entire truth. They have to live awhile away from a food source. I only seen them infest people in the winter time. If I get them and I have, I just save my head. I am a female and don't give a crud about "looking good". If people don't like that, then it's on them. It's the fastest way to get rid of them for good. Bag up your stuff, vaccuum, etc. They love clean hair. Rich people get it also but they never say anything because it's an embarrassment to them. I bet actors and actresses get them too. So tired of this "it comes from poor people" narrative. Lice does not ask you if your rich or poor. It just finds a way on your head.

Aug 08, 2018
in our place NEW
by: origin?

From our place people said it comes from exposure to sun. And kids do have it a lot or have it more common they play outside . Children are good vectors ....
And of course it comes from exposure to contaminated objects and people

Aug 26, 2017
Lice and the bible NEW
by: Anne-Margaret

Whether you believe the verses in Exodus 8 of the bible or not, lice originated from the ground. In verse 16, they were a curse on the Egyptians and animals, and have been spreading from human to human and animal to animal ever since. (There are lots of lice: Chewing lice are found on mammals and birds, Sucking lice, or head lice and body (crabs) lice feed on humans only) They are in all the animal kingdon and all over the world...
The Hebrew word used in the KJV is lice not gnat, though some versions use the two interchangeably, they are very different bugs, one flies, one cling.
Verse 8:21, states flies were another curse sent on the Egyptians, gnats are part of the fly family...they don't cling to humans they buzz, land on and annoy.

You don't have to be unclean or live in poor conditions to get lice BUT lice continue to be prevalent in the worst conditions where many diseases break out (i.e. typhus)

All parasites are found in nature and originally transmitted to humans they didn't just magically appear...

Aug 07, 2017
where do lice come from. NEW
by: Blackhawk

Lice breed in wet wood and damp warm places. A friend of mine, who was 14 had them all over her body. She was playing with her pet hampster on the floor, between her legs, holding it close to her body etc.
Her hampster died shortly after. It was infested with lice, so was the family cat. The cat was too large an animal for them to kill it.
I slept in a guest room on a bed that a cat slept on. I had them soon after. I also saw one float down (there was a large tree above and it was raining on and off) onto my arm. I thought it was a spider landing on me. When I looked it wasn't a spider. Another time I was sitting in a corner in a room in an attic appartmennt. The roof obviously leaked. There was a stain on the ceiling in the corner above my head and I saw one float down and land on my leg. Hmmm. Must've been wet damp wood.

May 26, 2017
idk NEW
by: Someone

I'm not going to pretend like I know the exact answer to this. However, I would like to mention that they only have to feed once they have hatched. The eggs can survive a lot longer (usually 7-10 days) without a human host, and the eggs may not hatch at all without conditions simular to a human body. That being said I am unsure how the eggs transfer to human scalps other than contact with an infested person. There are many theories on how this may happen. I have heard some people say they fall from trees, others say that they are in the earth, while some say that they have simply adapted to form on the scalp itself. I have even heard a theory that insects, mosquitoes in particular, may carry the eggs and when the insect lands on a human to feed the body temperature rises and causes the eggs to detach onto the host. I don't know about that, but I guess my point is nobody really knows it's all just theories at this time.

May 08, 2017
Just bc some one has lice dont mean they are dirty ppl NEW
by: Storm

Head lice is not bc ppl are dirty or don't clean and what not , if u put 2 and 2 together lice can not hold on to oily hair they don't like dirty hair they like clean hair bc they can grasp with out sliding off talk to a physician.... Some ppl are so ignorant about things like this.... I would like to know the answer to where they originate from also ... I have heard tea tree oil works but I honestly can not tell u if it does or not I had it when I was a young girl from school and the Dr told my mom to use egg and mayo and let the mayo sit on hair 30 minutes take a lice comb and comb out I've never had it since that time

May 02, 2017
My best guess NEW
by: Lionheart

Its like the parasitic version of the chicken and the egg... lol.
It seems like somewhere on the planet there would have to be at least one person infested with lice because the moment everyone is "treated" and cured, the lice wouldn't be able to exist anymore given they cannot live more than a day without a host. So it would have to be perpetual cases where it is passed, treated, passed, treated, etc.

Apr 25, 2017
simple question - tough answer NEW
by: doriselm

I get your question, I have been researching this for quite some time. I have not found an answer yet. It goes around at least a couple of times a year and it is getting on my nerves. It is a lot of work and it is simply creepy. I am not sure what a Bible verse has to do with it, because body lice are different than hair lice. We are very clean, but yet they are here. My kids don't go to school, but are homeschooled. Yes, how did the first person get these ugly disgusting critters? I sure would like to know.

Mar 26, 2017
How it happens NEW
by: Genomicsnerd

They came from body lice.People getting too close to primates then spreading them amongst themselves. Our lice share a direct ancestor with that of apes.

Mar 10, 2017
That doesn't answer her question NEW
by: Britney

Where originally did that other person get it!? I can't find this info anywhere. Do the just magically grow on your head then you give to someone else?? Where do they start before they land on a human??

Mar 05, 2017
Lice NEW
by: Private

I think they come from filth

Feb 22, 2017
For those of you quoting Exodus, 8:16 NEW

For those of you quoting Exodus, 8:16, they speak about Gnats, not Lice. Two different critters. Read the Bible!

Dec 20, 2016
Digusting lice
by: sharon

First of all i just wanted to add,the name "host" to these disgusting creatures is not the right word to use,we are victims,no one invited them to crawl all over your body and infest your hair and make you itch all the time,these things comes from the ground and do survive without human contact for months even years,they do jump and some at great height,they may not have wings,but can jump,those people who put out false information has not had a taste of them yet,no point in saying that it comes from close contact or if there is poor sanitary/hygiene,the point is where did they come from in the first place,they come from the ground,i would say directly from a place of hell to make people's lives a misery,i have had them bothering me for 6 years,even ended up in a mental hospital,they bite hard,they make you itch all the time,causes sleepless nights and can infest the home,they do not hibernate,so the biting goes on all year round without no respite for the victim,if i could i would like their mouths to be glued and for them to go back in the ground

Dec 05, 2016
Please answer this question
by: Richgirl401

I've searched the internet in search of one simple answer.
Where do lice come from?
1. Please don't explain to me how they transmit from one host to another.
2. Please don't explain to me how to get rid of it. I've read and read and read and I'm pretty much educated on head lice. How they survive and how you catch them.
But the one question that seems to get bounced back to how you catch them is the only answer I'm getting even when countless people as this question.
So I'm going to ask again in hopes of getting a clear answer.

Where does head lice come from? How do they start on a persons scalp? What are ways to keep them from even existing in the 1st place?

Sep 20, 2016
the truth
by: r

Exodus, 8:16

God bless those who typed exodus 8:16 and those who say they don't know when they didn't know

Aug 11, 2016
by: shirley

Understand the jump off of ppl onto other ppl, what I would like to no is where like under a tree r birds r a nest?? My daughter doesn't hang out with alot of girls her age cause fraud of that n not sure how she keeps them I got tea tree oil n put n shampoo n see how that works thxs for sharing

Jul 31, 2016
Where do lice come from
by: C Burdette

Exodus 8:16-191599 Geneva Bible (GNV)

16 ΒΆ Again the Lord said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the earth, that it may be turned to [a]lice throughout all the land of Egypt.

17 And they did so: for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth: and lice came upon man and upon beast: all the dust of the earth was lice throughout all the land of Egypt.

Jul 12, 2016
Evolution cant be real!!! Evolution is supposed to know where everything originates from!!!
by: Ashlee

Evolution do not exist specially if it cant explain where a living parasite came from!!! This makes no sense!!!

Jun 14, 2016
The definitive 'where do lice come from'
by: Pediculi Humanus

So, you want to know where lice come from? Well, I'll tell you. They come from people. You want to where they came from originally? Well that depends, are you a creationist, or an evolutionist? Creationists, your answer is they came from God, and were put on people. Evolutionists, they have evolved as a parasite, and adapted to specific hosts, primarily primates- of which you are- and so your lice are adapted to humans. But, how did I get lice?? Am I dirty? How did my child get lice? Am I a bad parent? Nope. You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But, my lice showed up after camping! So they must have come from the ground, or trees, right? Nope. Stay with me here- they came from contact with people who had them. You got them from the seat at the movie theatre, where sometime in the previous 24 hours someone who had lice sat- and left an adult female behind. They came from a play date with another child who had them. They came from stuffed toys that may have had hairs with nits on them (from the previous 10days) at a thrift store. Or used clothing from the same. They don't jump, they don't fly (except possibly attached to hairs that have come free of the hosts head) they crawl. You were just lucky enough to be in the right place, at the right time, to contract them. You have had them for awhile before you noticed. Probably 3-8 weeks. The activity immediately preceding the discovery of lice is not the cause. The activity 3-8 weeks prior to discovering lice is when you picked them up. Lice are sometimes picky about blood type, preferring to feed on a certain type, a certain rh factor. This explains why some children in the same family are more prone to them than others. Hope this helped. Remember, there's no mystery, no place in woods, no dirty corner where they hide that could be avoided. Now it's time to focus on getting rid of them!

Jun 01, 2016
by: Medusalem Kaindume

lice are small insects that develops from dirty which has been exposed to constant dump and warm conditions for a long time. Lice in fact where not created they come into exist only as a result of prolonged unhygienic condition . they appear very microscopic at the size of a bacterium,at this stage they are not visible and only cause some severe itchings in the head.After several weeks they become as big as an ordinally ant,is at this stage whereby they start sucking blood from your body.THEY CAN CAUSE VERY SERIOUSY HEALTH PROBLEMS,SO KEEP YOUR PLACE CLEAN AS WELL AS YOUR BODY TO.By; Medusalem (UNAM student),Namibia

Mar 26, 2016
See>EXODUS 8:16!!!!!!!
by: iris

On 10/30/2015 Missy gave the only correct answer: Lice originated from God as an Egypian plague/curse that was never reversed.

Mar 23, 2016
How to get lice out of your head quickly
by: Sidney

That is ago odd idea and I hope I could do it to.

Mar 05, 2016
simple question not answered...
by: RH

When people ask where lice come from they're not asking for the history or origins of lice....
They're asking besides person to person contact.. where do they come from... trees, grass, deep woods, dirt, where in our yards, or outside do they come from where are they besides on people / humans / animals?
That simple enough now...

Jan 30, 2016
It sad that you can't answer the question
by: Ralph

It's sad you can't answer the simple question were lice came from before it got onto someone's head and the answer is You don't know.

Dec 27, 2015
by: Tesh

All I want to know is how that first one gwts in somebody's head. I know how they transfer. Yet everything says they so not jumo ir fly and you cannot get them from animals, pets, dirt, air---yet where did kice iriginally come feom and how does ine get it...the FIRST person who then transfers it. If they cannot live without human blood and cannot jump, hop, fly then where are they forming and living prior to their first host?!

Oct 30, 2015
The Origin of Lice
by: Missy

See Exodus 8:16 ... They were created from the dust of the ground as a plague in Egypt.

Sep 08, 2015
lice to be a result of desried conditions of a bacterial source unique to human? in,
by: Justin

Could this be at all possible? I am sure that I sound dumb but I just don't get where the very first type of louse came from and decided to only feed on us???

May 12, 2015
where do Live come from?
by: julissa lucas

Do anybody think that lice attracts when kids don't tale showers?

May 12, 2015
by: devika

hi I have passed class 12 last montg and I detected 2 lice in my head and its probably freaking me out
..m from india and yes I will use that olive oil technique but what about the shampoo can I use dove?

May 11, 2015
why dose your head itch?
by: Hailey

Why would your head itch I mean it is no were and I can't find out why.

Jan 05, 2015
they've always been on someones head
by: darwin

There has never been a point in human history when there wasn't at least one person with lice on their heads. Without a constant host, lice would have gone extinct. Lice live, breed and lay their eggs on the head. Without a blood supply, the lice die. The eggs are clear and hard to detect. Genetic Anthropologists have determined there are at least 3 different types of lice, each of which evolved on a different type of primate. If I remember correctly, the lice we have, is thought to come from Bonobos. See the writings of Terrance Deacon for more info.

Jul 28, 2014
not sure
by: concerned

I know that head lice need blood to live. Would it be possible if they live in soil,air that a dog or cat carry them into your home.Then not knowing children playing with dog or cat catch them.

Jul 10, 2014
by: Laura

Just research parasite's. It is very hard to understand all this so if you try and research it it may help you understand more. I'm a hairdresser and we see many children come into the salon with them.. My daughter even had them one time and we DID use the stuff you buy in the store and it worked. You shouldn't use it more then once. It's just A LOT of picking through the hair once it is treated. You have to pick strand through stand and it takes hours. The only place she had when was a 1st time camping trip with her friend. Her friend also had them. Needless to say my daughter said she will never camp. She cried so bad and said my hairs always clean. I told her they love clean hair. Ever summer after that she pulled her hair up and sprayed the heck out of it. Sad it just makes them feel so dirty.

Jul 10, 2014
The orgin of head lice
by: Pookiev

THANK YOU LAURA FOR FINALLY ANSWERING THIS QUESTION!!! I read all the other comments and they all go back to how the head lice are transferred from one person to the other, but no one, on any of the sites I have visited, will say what the origin of head lice is, they had to "come" from somewhere!!! The did not just grow in human hair, they had to "live" somewhere before that got into their favorite habitat, human hair! But if they come from the soil originally, this raises another question, because I read over and over again that they must have a blood host, and that they will day without it. So do they come from the soil??? I would really like to know is this where they actually come from? IF so where is their blood source in the soil?

Jun 25, 2014
Hope this helps save people some time and money
by: Mom that's been there

Have them sleep with olive oil and tea tree oil in their hair with a shower cap over their head and rubbed on the body if you're having issues. This keeps them from being able to hold on to the skin if you missed some plus it kills them by being smothered by the oils. Just use old sheets you don't want and toss them out the next day instead of washing... It keeps you from ruining long hair with chemicals. The chemicals didn't work the first 3 tines times at all. I have three children and we spent 3 hours on each child combing the third time just to mKe sure but still didn't work.... The pharmacist told me the lice are starting to become immune to the medications used in the shampoos, gels and sprays. So I did some research (and after getting the dr.s approval) used tea tree oil and olive oil and that worked and was safer for my kids.... I would also recommend instead of spending 15 dollars for a small can of spray that doesn't go far at all, raid makes a huge can of spray for bed bugs that also works on lice for 6 dollars. They also gave the can bombs you can set off in your home and leave for a few hours that get your carpets as well that are only 6 to 8 dollars instead of renting a steam vac for tons per hour. Hope that helps and saves some money. If you have trouble finding the tea tree oil, walgreens carries it. It's near the vitamins in very small bottles. You only need to a little as it's very strong...

Jun 01, 2014


Jan 22, 2014
lice head one each origin
by: roberts

finally somebody else with a brain and knows how to use it !
please write for a free manual ! So the consensis is that the bug likes clean hair not dirty and they are able to float through the air in grass and trees etc as at camp not a filthy home ! A blite ticks and fleas !!!!!!! ?????? As in animal fleas like my sister had when I went to visit . They had no bites and I was eaten alive only as far as the knees ! Her dogs had flea collars too and it appears fleas like fabric also !
So let us consider the lice issue as flea and tick . This is a new front in the 17.95 war on lice . You are not the only one out there in the world that likes their meat rare ! moo so do not be surprized if a lice is just floating by looking for a clean child !?!?!?!?! For a simulair thing I saw a blight hit a big leaf maple and that side of the tree effected .

Nov 20, 2013
Where do lice come from?
by: Laura

To answer your question where do lice come from. It is a parasite. These parasites are found in Soil, food and in the air. That's why when kids go camping they may get them, them when kids are in close contact with their friends it spreads. I work in a salon and see many children with them. In June we usually get the children going to camp and the boys come in and get their hair buzzed. if you have a girl I recommend putting a pony tail in their hair with hair gel. The dirty the hair the better for you. Lice love clean hair. Hope this helps you.

Nov 14, 2013
Head Lice
by: Anonymous

We all know how you can be infected with lice but No one seem's to know how the first one start's on it's host. Doe's it start by not washing your hair? Doe's it come from having a dirty home etc.

Nov 06, 2013
Where do lice come from?
by: Anonymous

I agree. No one seems to be able to answer this question. We all know how it can be passed between people, but how did the original person get lice that passed it to others? Where was the louse located before it found its human host? (Example: on the ground, in the tress, etc...)

Jul 30, 2013
The Beginning of Lice
by: Anonymous

It is apparent that so for no one can answer the question; where does the louse originate? If you have a group of people and no one has lice, there is no outside contact, and then one day a person gets head lice. Where did the lice come from?

May 21, 2013
the beginning of lice
by: ivette

I believe lice come because of a nervous system. It is said that the source is children.we see them mainly in schools or family's that are poor or a house hold with parents that don't care properly for their children it can not be because of filth because they will not go on dirty hair.

Apr 13, 2013
Origin of Lice
by: Anonymous

Seriously, where did the very first body lice originate from? If they NEED humans to survive, I've got to think the very first one was bred by a human. So did it evolve into a living parasite from a combination of serious filth and bacteria? I would think this is why lice is so associated with filth. Where else could the very first one have originated?

Sep 25, 2012
still where do the lice originate
by: Anonymous

Why does that first person get head lice??

Aug 04, 2012
Where do lice come from originally?
by: Angie from allaboutparasites.com

Hi Nickie,

As I mentioned earlier, if you are wondering where lice originated, I would have to say that God created them the same time He created all other insect types.

Because of the type of critter that a louse is, it needs blood to survive, so it can not live for a long period of time away from a blood source.

There are different types of lice, but if you are asking specifically about head lice, the HEAD of humans is the place that head lice would call "home." :)

If you happen to discover that you have head lice, they would have "come from" another human head, either directly or indirectly.

Does that answer your question or am I not understanding what it is you're wanting to know?

Aug 03, 2012
Where does lice live before it is in the hair
by: Nickie

I understand that lice it a parasite and one can get lice from close contact and sharing caps etc. But where do they live before all of this. No one can ever answer this question. Every living thing has a place of which they call home or does the lice live on the body or in the hair anyway until something stimulates the growth.... I am confused that no one can tell me where.... That can help in preventing also if one knows where they are to begin with.

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