Facts of Lice2017-05-03T09:49:39+00:00

Facts of Lice

Find out all you need to know about lice here.

Spotting Head Lice

The only way to confirm your lice suspicions is by a thorough examination of your hair.  Making head lice exams a part of your regular routine will allow you to identify lice before they get out of hand.

Signs & Symptoms

Although the feeding bite of the louse is painless, its saliva can cause an allergic reaction in many people. They can be red marks and itching at the site of the bite.  Reaction severity depends on each person and the number of prior exposures. Initial infestation may produce no signs or symptoms for 4 to 6 weeks. Subsequent infestations may cause itching within 24 to 48 hours. Therefor, first-time infestations are often the easiest for you to detect, and severe itching usually indicates an infestation that has been present for several weeks.  50% of the population, however, are not allergic and NEVER have the “itch” reaction. This may account for the high rate of re-infestation among individuals who appear to be lice-free.

Intense itching at the site of the bite compels a person to scratch, often breaking the skin. The open scratches, in turn, create an entryway for germs and lice feces which may lead to secondary infections and swollen glands in the neck.

Secondary infections are far worse than the lice themselves and often lead to more serious problems.  Other lice symptoms include:

  • Rash at the nape of the neck
  • Swollen glands
  • Low-grade fever
  • Bags under the eyes
  • Inability to sleep because of the nocturnal characteristic of lice
  • Anemia in severe cases

With an excessive number of lice bites, the infested individual may be feverish and feel tired and irritable due to lack of sleep, hence the term “feeling lousy.” Chronic scalp infections are not uncommon in individuals with active head lice infestations, especially in tropical climates or when daily hygiene is difficult to maintain.

Nits, Nymphs & Lice

  • Appearance: Head lice are tiny six-legged insects that feed on human blood several times a day. Each leg has a claw, enabling the lice to grasp onto an individual hair strand. They are like chameleons and have the ability to change colors based on your hair color varying from grayish white to reddish brown.
  • Where They Live: Head lice can be found most commonly on the head, but also on eyebrows, eyelashes, and in beards/mustaches of humans. They do not live on pets and are not known to spread disease.
  • Nits: The female louse lays her eggs (called nits) by gluing them to the base of the hair shaft usually about a ¼” from the scalp (especially in colder climates, and possibly further away from the scalp in warmer climates). The female will produce approximately 200 eggs in her lifetime. Nits are small (about the size of a knot in a piece of thread), oval and can be hard to see.  Nits generally hatch in 7 to 10 days.
  • Nymphs: A newborn louse is called a nymph. Nymphs look like a tiny spec of pepper and feed on human blood regularly but cannot reproduce. This stage typically lasts for 9-12 days.  Most times this is the hardest stage to identify without good training.
  • Adults: Nymphs mature into reproducing adult lice. They are close to the size of a sesame seed and the females are larger than males.  Adults live for about 30 days but only if their human blood supply remains constant. Without human blood, the adult will rarely survive more than 24 hours.
  • Super Lice: Scientists from Southern Illinois University have recently discovered that 104 of the 109 lice populations that were tested in the US, are resistant to pyrethroids – the common pesticide found in drugstore lice shampoos and treatments (source: The Telegraph). These “super lice” are prevalent in most US states today, and have been mutating for years from overuse and misuse of pesticide treatments.
  • Amazing Critters!: Lice have the ability to close their ventricles and can remain submersed and unharmed, for up to two hours.  During laboratory testing, head lice were found to “play dead”, fooling even the researchers conducting the experiments; only to get up and run again if they were submersed for less than two hours.  These critters are actually amazing!
  • Not Prejudicial:Lice are not prejudicial!  Lice’s only concern is for its own survival. They need to feed regularly and are always looking for the easiest means of doing so. Shampooing daily does nothing to prevent head lice since nits are cemented to the hair and, the louse’s crab-like claws allow the critter to attach itself to your hair and hang on for dear life!

How To Get Lice

HEAD TO HEAD CONTACT is for sure the primary way to get the dreaded critters.  HONESTLY,  humans will be humans!  Heads are going to touch no matter how old we are.  Whether it’s on the playground, in class, hugging your family, or any regular daily activity.  You do not realize it but you are touching someone’s head in some way every day.

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Life Cycle of Head Lice
Life Cycle of Head Lice