Head Lice Facts



Head lice are fairly common, especially in children. It is an insect called ‘louse’ (lice being its plural), which is commonly found in hair and lives close to the scalp to feed on blood. It is common among children. According to an estimate by the CDC, up to 12 million children are infested in the US, each year.
Head lice FAQ: Answers to some commonly asked questions about head lice.
Quit nits: An excellent and comprehensive resource on head lice.
Learn about head lice: Detailed information and links about head lice.
Know Head lice: Comprehensive and authoritative information about head lice.

Head Lice Life Cycle
There are three phases of head lice life-cycle. It starts as an egg then turns into nymph and finally reaches the adult stage.
The egg: The eggs of a louse are called nits. These are oval shaped and extremely small. The eggs are laid close to the scalp attached to strands of hair. The eggs hatch in eight to nine days.
The nymph: This is the second stage of louse’s life-cycle. In this stage it becomes as mature as an adult but significantly smaller in size. After reaching the nymph stage, it normally takes around 10 days to reach adulthood.
Adult stage: It takes approximately 15-16 days for a louse to become an adult once it is hatched. It is the size of a sesame seed and has a life span of 30 days. During this time it feeds on the blood form the scalp.
Managing head lice safely: Very useful information on management of head lice.
Head Lice: Children focused information on head lice.
Head lice Q&A: A paediatrician offers some advice and answers your questions about the prevention and treatment of head lice.
Head lice recommendations: Detailed information about all aspects of head lice management.

How Do Head Lice Move Around?
Head lice crawl from one strand of hair to another so, close contact with a person who has lice raises the possibility of contracting lice. Sharing articles of personal use such as combs, brushes, and hats is another way to get infested. It is observed that kids are the most common target of lice. This is because kids are in close contact with each other and they freely share articles of personal use.
So, in order to reduce the risk of infestation, we should not share:

  • Combs, hair brushes and other similar items;
  • Hats, scarves and other head-gear;
  • Towels and clothes
  • Any other items that are used by an infested person including, beds, blankets, rugs etc.

Head lice fact sheet: An informative fact sheet about head lice.
LiceMeister® 101: A video showing you how to screen, detect and remove head lice and nits using the LiceMeister® comb
Lousology 101: A primer on the biology of the louse including life cycle information, images and more.

How Do You Know You Have Head Lice?
Everybody knows the tell-tale sign of head lice: scratching. However, there are other signs also such as:

  • The feeling of something crawling on the scalp;
  • Itching on the head;
  • Visible eggs or lice;
  • Tickling or tingling on the head;
  • Scabs on the scalp from the scratching;

You don’t need a healthcare professional to diagnose the existence of lice. Head lice can be found by closely examining the hair and the scalp. Normally, a nit comb is enough to check for lice or nits. For additional help, you can use a magnifying glass. If you find nits high up in hair strands, away from the scalp and no sign of live lice, there may not be need for any treatment.
Head lice for kids: Here you will find information and activities designed by kids for kids.
Frequently Asked Questions: Most commonly asked questions about head lice.
Camping and lice: American camps association shares the lessons learned from years of helping camps

Head Lice Treatment
There are two ways to treat head lice:
Prescription products: There are prescription shampoos available for head lice treatment. Don’t wash the hair for a couple of days, and then apply the prescription shampoo, while following the instructions on the package. Use fresh clothing after the treatment. Check the scalp and hair after 8-12 hours. If there is no movement, it means that the lice are all dead and another round of treatment is not required.
Once the infestation is cured, keep checking and combing the hair for 3-4 weeks to make sure that there is no recurrence. Also, wash and clean all articles of clothing and any other objects used by the patient in hot water.
Home remedy: Many of us are not fans of commercial products that contain chemicals and prefer a natural way to cure lice. Specially, for children less than two years of age, don’t use prescription shampoos. Just comb the hair with a nit comb after washing every couple of days for at least two weeks. Continue until all the lice are removed.
Lice busters: The basics about lice and links to additional resources.
American Academy of Pediatrics â€" Guidance on treating head lice
Reduce lice treatment risk: "Pesticides: 5 Ways to Reduce Children's Exposure," U.S. News and World Report”


  • Although lice are common among people of all ethnicities, people of certain races have a very low risk of infestation. African-Americans are among such races;
  • A female louse normally lays six eggs per day and the eggs hatch in 8-9 days;
  • You don’t have to be dirty to get head lice, anyone can be infested;
  • Prescription products alone may not rid a person of lice. Regular combing with a nit comb is very important for removal and prevention of lice;
  • Personal contact, especially head-to-head contact is the primary source of infestation;
  • Many home remedies such as vinegar, kerosene and Vaseline are believed to remove lice but there is no hard evidence for it;
  • Contrary to common belief, pets do not carry human head lice;
  • Lice can’t survive for more than 48 hours without human blood;
  • The most common symptom of head lice is an itchy scalp;

Louse buster: A list of head lice facts that will educate you before you ever make a decision on how to treat yourself or your family.
Know your enemy: 20 head lice facts you should know.
Nit wits: Interesting facts about head lice.
Lice fairy: Lots of facts and myths about head lice.
Lice are peskier than ever: "Tired of Nit-Picking? Lice Are Peskier than Ever," a Wall Street Journal article on the new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"One Louse, Ick. Two Lice, Call for Help!" New York Times: Story about a Los Angeles lice removal service.

Related Resources

Children's Health Centres: Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth
Medical Centres & GPs: Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth
Chemists: Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth



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