What Are Head Lice Exactly?

Head lice are small insects without wings that live on the human scalp. They feed exclusively on human blood and can be very difficult to get rid of as they spread very easily. Once a person has contracted a lice infestation, the lice will begin to lay eggs in the ear. Each louse will lay between three and four eggs per day, which is why lice infestations happen so rapidly. These eggs are laid near the base of the hair shaft, and are generally around 0.8mm in size. The female uses secreted glue to stick the egg to the hair shaft, which prevents the egg from falling off.

It takes between six to eight days for the egg to hatch, and then the whole process starts again as lice can start reproducing within the first ten hours of being born. When a person has a lice infestation, their hair will be covered by both living lice, and nits. Nits refers to the lice eggs which are still stuck to the shaft, even after the egg has hatched. In order to clear yourself of a lice infestation, it is essential to not only get rid of all the living lice in your hair, but all the nits as well. Some of these nits may still have living lice who have not yet hatched, and once they do hatch, the infestation will start again.

Lice can also live in clothing, bedding, hats, pillows, soft toys and hairbrushes. When a lice infestation is discovered, it is important to wash all the items that the hair can be in contact with so as to rid the lice there as well. All materials should be washed in boiling hot water, hair brushes and combs must be thoroughly rinsed and cleaned and even all soft toys and throw pillows must be washed in boiling water as well.

The lifespan of a louse is around 30 days, however, you need to bear in mind that lice start reproducing within a day of being born and can lay three to four eggs a day, so a lice infestation can grow rapidly if not treated as soon as possible. It may take a few days after the initial lice have latched to notice the infestation as the eggs need time to hatch, and you may not start itching straight away. If you suspect that you have contracted lice, get someone to check your hair thoroughly, even if your scalp is not yet itching.