When boarding a plane, the first thought on many passengers' minds is what entertainment will be on offer and whether they'll be treated to a good onboard meal.
Therefore, it's easy to become complacent with hygiene and forget about the hundreds of people that have come before you and sat in the same seat. Now, travellers are being warned of a growing issue that could leave them with a headache following their flight - quite literally.
You could actually pick up head lice when jetting abroad. The annoying lice are wingless insects that live, breed and feed on the human scalp. Just the very thought of them is enough to have you itching all over.
Usually, once you pass adolescence you never really think about lice until you have kids or grandkids. However, what we fail to remember is how often we come in contact with lice-infested areas.
According to Metro, airplane seats are one of the riskier areas when it comes to the itchy insects.
While these pests survive by feeding on blood from the scalp, they can last up to 48 hours detached from a human host. This means that when someone with lice places their head on the headrest, they can transfer and survive in the plane for the next two days.
Placing your head on that same headrest puts you at risk of infestation, which is definitely the last thing you want on your long-haul flight.
Shamir Patel, founder of online pharmacy Chemist-4-U, has urged families to avoid travel if they or their children are suffering from head lice.
“Some short-haul planes are performing four or five flights every single day," he told the news outlet. "And if the seat comes into contact with a passenger with head lice, it’s very probable that some of the bugs could linger on the headrest.”
So what do you do? You can’t exactly spend your flight hovering your head off the headrest in hopes of avoiding contact with lice.
Rather, preparing your scalp is the smartest precaution you can take and lucky for us, there are certain smells that lice are known to steer clear of.
Tea tree, coconut, eucalyptus, rosemary and lavender oils are all known to be strong deterrents for lice. In the days prior to your flight, it’s best to use shampoos and conditioners that contain any of these aromatic oils.
You could also choose to place a few drops of the strong smelling natural products on your scalp before departing.
It’s important not to use lice removal conditioners unless you are actually carrying lice as the chemicals contained in these products can cause damage to healthy hair.
While the risk of getting lice onboard your next flight might be slim, it’s better to be safe than sorry.