Important Facts About Head Lice
- Head lice are parasitic insects that only attack humans.
- Head lice thrive on the scalp and are often found behind the ears and near the neckline at the back of the head. They can also be found on eyebrows and eyelashes.
- Head lice stay alive by sucking blood from the human scalp.
- Head lice are very small. They can be tan, brown or grey.
- Head lice are spread through direct head-to-head contact.
- Head lice eggs (nits) might be mistaken for dandruff.
- Once head lice have fallen off a person’s head, they die within 1-2 days.
- Itching is the main symptom of head lice caused by an allergy to lice saliva or lice droppings.
- Anyone can get head lice. They know no socioeconomic or ethnic boundaries.
Life Cycle of Head Lice
- A female head louse lays eggs by cementing them to hairs (often close to the root).
- After 7 to 10 days the nymph louse hatches out of the egg, leaving a shiny white empty eggshell (nit) - which can be found anywhere along the hair strand.
- Head lice feed by biting the scalp and feeding on blood.
- Head lice take 6 to 10 days to become fully grown and typically live for about 25 to 30 days.
- Once mature the head lice can move from head to head if direct contact is made.
- A female head louse can lay eggs as early as 7 days after she's hatched and produce 4 to 6 eggs per day.
- She has between 18 to 28 days to lay her eggs, which equates to between 72 and 168 eggs within her lifetime.
- To break the cycle and stop lice spreading, head lice need to be removed within 7 days of hatching.