The answer to that is a qualified yes. Shared yoga mats can be a medium of lice transfer. The natural habitat for a louse (lice in plural) is the human head or scalp. Their only source of food is human blood which they can suck through the human scalp. They also need a certain temperature to survive and the ideal setting is on the human head for this as well. The human louse despite its size, feeds around 4 to 5 times a day.
So is that the only place they can live? Well, yes but if they can find another human head within 1 to 2 days of falling off they can certainly get transmitted in many ways.
On yoga mats, per se, they cannot survive simply because there is no food or ambient climate of warmth to help them survive. But if they have fallen off one human head and within 24 to 48 hours, another human being’s head comes into contact with the yoga mat then they will climb in and survive.
If the yoga mat, therefore, has live lice then chances are very high that they will infest another human scalp very quickly.
Thus the best choice is to keep a yoga mat for yourself.
If there is a suspicion that a yoga mat may have head lice, then some cleaning actions can be performed on the same. Vacuuming the mat, using natural oils, using safe insect repellents and even washing the mat and leaving it to dry can help.
While vacuuming the mat, one must also vacuum the area under the mat if it lies only in one place or vacuum the area where it is stored away between yoga sessions.
Natural oils like essential oils of tea tree and eucalyptus can be used to treat an infested yoga mat as well. These essential oils can be found in most drug stores and health food stores too. Tea tree oil by itself is useful for treating lice infestation. Simply mix both these oils with water to dilute them and with a spray bottle, spray the liquid mixture directly on the yoga mat. Leave the yoga mat undisturbed for 24 hours at least before using the same.
Insect repellents should not be harmful to the human being – so care must be taken for the same. You can even use a combination of vacuuming and the application of the essential oils to ensure that all lice and all nits have been removed from the yoga mat.
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Head Lice Treatment World: Can Head Lice Live On Yoga Mats?