Facts of Lice

What Are Head Lice?

  • Head lice are tiny 2-4mm wingless insects.
  • Head lice do not fly or jump, but they can crawl.
  • They are human parasites. They need blood from a human head to live, colonize and lay eggs.
  • They are only passed through direct human contact.
  • Without blood from the head of their host, lice can only live only 24-48 hours.
  • Adult female lice can live on a human head more than 30 days.

Head lice infestation can become a huge problem if not treated. They are not like a cold or the flu that go away on their own. They must be manually removed.

  • One adult female can lay more than 200 eggs in 30 days.
  • Nits (head lice eggs) take 7-10 days to hatch.
  • Nits are attached firmly to the hair shaft like glue, always oval in shape and brown or gray in color.
    A nymph (baby louse) takes 7-10 days to mature into an adult louse and can start laying eggs.

What are the symptoms of head lice?
  • Itching
  • Red bite marks on scalp
  • Feeling of bug bites on head
  • Sores caused by scratching which may become infected
Where do head lice come from?

They do not come out of the air or from the ground. They are human parasites and have probably been here since the beginning of time. Desiccated (dried up) head lice and their eggs (nits) have been found on the hair and scalps of Egyptian mummies.

Do head lice carry or transmit disease?

The potential for disease transmission via the head louse remains undetermined. Though many experts believe head lice to be only a nuisance, the potential for disease transmission should not be underestimated or ignored.

Who is at risk of getting head lice?
  • Commonly preschool and school age children 3-11, their siblings and parents.
  • Anyone who has had head to head contact with infected people.
  • Sharing hats, combs, or personal items like towels that belong to an infected person.
  • Hygiene is immaterial to head lice, they enjoy clean and dirty hair equally.
Should I have a pest control company spray my house for lice?

No! Professional and/or household insecticide or fumigant sprays and fogs are not necessary. Once head lice infestation (on a human) is properly and successfully treated, any lice within the home cannot live beyond 24-48 hours, so pest control is not required. It is actually illegal and considered fraud for a pest control company to offer home treatment services for lice. Also, insecticides and fumigants can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin and pose potential dangerous health risks to family members and pets. Regular vacuuming and laundry are suggested.

Do pets get head lice?

Head lice cannot be “caught” from pets and cannot survive on pets. They are human parasites and require human blood for survival. Treatment is not necessary and can be harmful.

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