10 Things You May Not Know About Head Lice

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By Lisa  |  Tuesday, April 19, 2011  |  ,  |  4 comments

Head10 things you may not know about head lice lice infestation, or pediculosis, is an unpleasant nuisance that affects millions every year all over the world.  There are many misconceptions about head and body lice such as the implication an infected person is "dirty" or "unsanitary".

If you or a loved one has head lice, there is no need to panic.  Head lice are very treatable and are considered more of a nuisance than a health hazard. To prevent and treat head lice outbreaks, make sure you understand the facts about head lice.  Here are 10 things about head lice you may not have known:

  1. Head lice can infest anyone and prefer clean hair. Preschool and elementary-age children are infested most often.
  2. Head lice are only passed through direct head to head contact with a person who is already infested. This commonly happens during play, sports activities and sometimes sharing clothing such as hats or hair accessories with an infested person.
  3. You will not get lice by sitting next to an infested person.  Lice do not fly or jump and you can't get  them from your pets.
  4. The National Pediculosis Association estimates that as many as 12 million cases of lice occur each year.
  5. Head lice are small and wingless, varying in size from 1/16" to 1/8" (about the size of a sesame seed).  An adult louse has 6 legs (with claws) and is tan to grayish-white.
  6. Head lice feed on blood several times daily (every 3-6 hours) and reside close to the scalp to maintain  their body temperature.
  7. Lice move quickly and shy away from light (such as during a head check).
  8. A Female louse is usually larger than males and can lay up to 10 eggs a day, over  100 in  her lifetime. Nits look like very small grains of rice and hatch in 7-10 days.  Nits are firmly attached to the hair shaft.
  9. The primary symptom of infestation is itching. Children may barely notice head lice or have only a mild scalp irritation. The most common symptoms include: Itching, small red bumps on scalp, neck and shoulders (lice bites) and infection, accompanied by swollen glands (less common).
  10. If dislodged from the host, adult head lice rarely survive beyond 36 hours and eggs die within 2 weeks.

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4 comments for “10 Things You May Not Know About Head Lice”

  1. Posted 12/10/2011 at 6:54:22 PM
    Gravatar of Paula

    Hi,
    Our youngest daughter had head lice in early August. Our oldest daughter had head lice two months later and our youngest just contracted it again two months later.We have thoroughly vacuumed everything, washed all bedding, blankets etc. and bagged for two weeks what we could not launder. We have followed the precription protocol to the letter and carefully looked for and combed out nits. Do you have an explanation for what is going on and possibly what we need to do? Thank you in advance for your suggestions and advice.
    Sincerely,
    Paula

  2. Posted 12/13/2011 at 11:03:34 AM
    Gravatar of Lisa

    I can understand your frustration as it seems you are going through a never ending cycle with head lice. Lice hatch within 7-10 days, so if you are getting rid of them for months at a time, it seems like the problem is not likely at your house. What environment are they in during the day? Do they go to school where they share coat hangers or lockers? Does their school have a no-nit policy? It could be that they are getting exposed to head lice when they are not with you. It may be worth a phone call to see if you can work with a teacher or daycare provider to help prevent the head lice epidemic that seems to be going around.

  3. Posted 10/11/2012 at 12:04:06 PM
    Gravatar of Mommabeans

    What can I do about repeated head lice infestations when the other household in the equation will not do everything that needs to be done, only what they feel like doing because they insist that they are not the source. There is too much time between out breaks too for it to be the same single infestation. No one in this house is in school, daycare, camp, or participates in team sports. No one in this house is in head to head contact with others. While in the other household there is a middle school aged child, who attends camp, and after school program and participates in team sports. I do not have the option to deny visitation until the matter is cleared. What can I do for those in my house to prevent the infestation from reoccurring in the common denominator between the two households and bringing it back over here?

  4. Posted 10/15/2012 at 12:37:50 PM
    Gravatar of Lisa

    I can understand your frustration and sorry you are dealing with an ongoing head lice problem. We can suggest a couple of things:

    We have a shampoo called Licefreee Everyday Shampoo. You can have your children replace their regular shampoo with this one as it creates an environment lice do not like to be around. The shampoo is available at Walgreens and on our website.

    Another option would be to spray their hair down with Licefreee Spray when they return to your house. It is non-toxic and safe to use as often as needed. It will kill any lice and nits that travel home in their hair. Just spray it on and let it air dry (just one time when they return home). You don't need to comb out the nits unless it is required by the school. This is available at Walmart and Walgreens as well as other regional stores and our website.

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