The Life Cycle of Head Lice

Knowing the life cycle of head lice can save parents a lot of stress, time, and money.

Head lice are parasites.  They require a human host to feed and survive.  The first stage of head lice is the egg stage.  Lice eggs are also known as nits.  Eggs are tiny, about one millimeter in length and yellow/whitish in color.  While in this stage, the nit will attach itself to the base of a hair strand, near the scalp. 

Young lice, called nymphs, hatch from the egg state after about seven to 10 days.  They are about 1.1-1.3 millimeters long and can be tan or white in color. 

Nine to 12 days after hatching, a nymph (or young louse) will become fully grown and developed.  Though they aren’t usually more than two millimeters in length, the female louse will be larger than the male louse.  Fully mature lice will live for about three to four weeks with a human host and a blood source for nourishment.

Knowing the life cycle of lice helps to understand the reasoning behind the timing of treatment. An adult louse can live about 24 hours without feeding on blood, surviving slightly longer in warm weather. If it doesn’t feed, it dies.  Read more…

 If an adult louse has a reliable food source, it can live up to 30 days on a human host.  An important part of any treatment process is to make sure that all nits are removed from the hair. 

Nits can’t live without a human host. They need the warmth of the scalp for incubation before they hatch. They need the nourishment they get from human blood as soon as they’ve hatched. Nits that are dislodged from a hair shaft will most likely die before they hatch.  Read more…

If proper and thorough treatments are not performed, lice can continue to persist even after treatments.  A female louse can lay up to six eggs per day, so they multiply quickly.  Care from a lice professional is a good route to go for those seeking quick and efficient lice removal. 


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