What are Head Lice?

head liceHead lice, otherwise referred to as pediculosis in medical terms, have been around for ages and are considered human parasites. They manifest themselves on the head and particularly the hair and scalp region.

This article about headlice is going to take a more in depth look at several areas which include the following: the head lice life cycle, head lice eggs, head lice symptoms, and head lice removal.

The Head Lice Life Cycle:

Many people think that head lice come from the ground or air but this is not true. Head lice are transmitted through contact with other infected persons or via contact with a towel that has active eggs or lice on it. There is typically a 30 day cycle with the human body acting as the host. Most head lice cannot survive off the host for a 24 hours or longer.

Do you know why lice only survive for 24 hours off the host?

Because they are considered human parasites and as such they depend upon the human body, in particular, the scalp and hair for their food.

What does lice look like in hair (view the head lice pictures below)?

Head lice can be classified into three varieties: the nit, the nymph and the adult.

The Nit:

Lice are called the nits. They are hard to detect because they are close to the scalp.

The Nymph:

The nymph refers to the smaller form of an adult louse. It is what the nit hatches into. It takes approximately seven days for the nymph to mature in an adult louse and during this seven day period the must feed off the hosts blood.

The Adult Louse:

The adult louse has six legs and is about the size of a piece of oatmeal. It has a unique ability to make itself look darker when it is living on people with dark hair. Otherwise its common color is tan to grayish-white. Similar to the nymph, the adult louse feeds off the host’s blood and can only live away from the host for about two days. The normal lifespan of an adult louse on the scalp or hair is approximately 30 days.

Head Lice Eggs:

Nits are the medical term referring to the eggs. The eggs are laid close to the shaft of the hair close to your scalp.

Do you know the difference between dandruff and nits?

Dandruff are tiny flakes of dead skin cells which can be brushed off while nits look like dandruff but can’t be removed by normal brushing.

Seeing live lice on children is not a very common occurrence, kid’s are more likely to be infested with the eggs or nits.

What is the time to hatch for nits?

Typically this is a one to two week process. Once hatched, the lice egg shells will actually remain on the head attached to a hair shaft. This process of hair growth and egg attachment to the hair shaft makes the identification of lice easier. This is because they move further away from the scalp as the hair grows and more in view.

Head Lice Symptoms:

How to look for lice and what sensations might you have.

  • The feeling or sensation of a bug or something moving in your hair or crawling on your scalp
  • Constant scratching or itching of the hair, scalp or head region
  • Head sores from the continual scratching and itching process
  • Irritable skin or scalp that is inflamed or reddish in color