Lice - the pest we all wish we didn't have to know. When an infestation strikes the game is on. We'll do all we can to get them out of our hair and out of our house! But how can we be sure they're gone for good?
First, we need to understand the life cycle of the louse.
1. The Nit Stage:
Day: from the laying of the egg to about 6 days after.
Appearance: A very small off-white oval less than a millimeter in size at their largest and only about a 1/3rd of a millimeter when laid. Dead eggs are brown and collapses on the side. Many people mistake head lice at this stage for dandruff. The easiest way to tell which is which? Dandruff is easily removed - nits are not.
"Nit" is the term for the egg state of a head louse. Nits are laid at the bottom of the hair shaft (within 6 millimeters for warmer climates, closer in cooler climate) in order To get the body heat they require for proper incubation, the female louse will lay her nits at the bottom of a hair shaft with natural type of glue she emits to help them stay in place.
2. Nit Hatching Stage:
Day: Between 7 and 9 days from when egg was laid.
Appearance: The head of the louse begins to emerge from the egg. Eggs that have the louse has already hatched from are pale, hollow with a hole on top and won't pop when squashed.
Once it has emerged fully, it will no longer be considered a nit.
3. 1st Instar(Insect Development Stage)Head Lice Nympth Stage:
Day: Between 8 and 9 days from when egg was laid.
Appearance: The louse now looks like an insect but is still very small. They are compared to the size of a pin's head with the females being a bit larger than the male. Their body is yellowish to rust depending on how recently they fed.
This is the most precarious stage for a head louse. For one reason or another, the grand majority of lice die during this stage of life. Should they survive for three more days however, they will shed their exoskeleton and enter the...
4. 2nd Instar Head Lice Nympth Stage:
Day: Between 11 and 12 days from when the egg was laid.
Appearance: As you might imagine, a 2nd instar head lice nympth looks quite similar to the 1st instar head lice nympth, only a bit larger.
5. Final Molt - Adult Stage
Day: Between 16 and 18 days from when the egg was laid.
Appearance: Like those in the previous stage only larger yet.
Adult lice are active and they can move quick. This is the stage at which reproduction and egg laying begins. In this time, the female can lay up to 90 eggs (nits).
Day: Between 32 and 35 days from when the egg was laid.
Appearance: How can you tell if a louse is dead? Remember they are typically quick and active. If you poke them and they don't move, they're dead.
Of course, all of this only really applies to head lice living in their ideal environment, next to their feeding source, in our hair.
How do head lice leave the hair?
Contrary to popular belief, head lice do not fly or even jump, yet they can end up off the head and around our homes.
With the heat of our body, they have a hard time telling the difference between our hair and the fibers of the hat we were wearing, or the blankets, pillow of carpet we were resting our head on. While we are in contact with these things, they may move off our head in search of a meal and be left behind.
How long can head lice live off the human host?
Most often, head lice are spread through physical contact (if their heads touch or are close together) and by sharing clothing, hats, or scarves. (Pets do not get lice and do not spread them.)
However, assuming they leave the scalp and do not find another host, or are not able to find their way back to their original host, a head louse will typically starve within 1 to 2 days. Nits can live off the host longer, but rarely become separated, as the female louse "glues" the nit to the hair strand. Nits often look like dandruff because of this, but unlike dandruff, cannot easily be brushed out of the hair.
How can I prevent the displaced head lice in my home from reinfesting?
While it's not likely that lice will live for long in your home, there is still a risk of lice spreading from one person to another.
When a head lice infestation strikes don't panic, but don't delay in treatment either. Take care of your head lice in the hair immediately, and be sure to wash anything the infested person may have come in contact with.
Use hot water and a lice treatment on all:
Clothing that may have come in contact
Hair Decorations and Hair Ties
Vacuum the furniture and car just in case.
Head lice, while a nuisance, are NOT a sign of uncleanliness or dirtiness. Anyone can contract head lice. If you or your child has head lice, don't spend time worrying about how you got it, just work on solving the problem!
Eran Finkle, Mick E. Talbot
thank you for this i had to show my friend about lice! thank you ever so much. Commented on HelloLife · April 19, 2009 at 12:12 AM
My daughter has lice. I thought it was dry scalp like she gets every year this time in the fall. I have cats and seem them scratching, treated them for flees. With her persistent itch and not seeing anything I treated her anyway with RidX. Four days later, my Nanny sees them crawling on her head. I was mortified.. The school nurse told me "if her kids ever had them she would burn down her house".
What I learned? Heat! It is said to kill more of louses and 90% of the eggs with just 1 blow dry. Using RidX and then conditioner, I combed through her hair and still found live louses.. this why she was still so bad in 5 days. I am going to repeat in 4 more days , but with washing everyday followed by blow drying (said to be 50% better than anything including RidX on the market). I then will comb. I am also washing her sheets ever day for the next 3 weeks and vacuuming the same. They live 2-3 days so this is more a precaution for me. The first sign of lice by the way is a rash on the back of neck and behind of ears. We had that. Commented on HelloLife · September 30, 2009 at 8:16 PM
My question is that i havent had lice for over a year and i have this suitcase and theres two blankets in them and journals and i just received from my parents who may or may not have alice but i know the home is. but i want to know how long can they live off the blankets in the cold outside? and can they jump off a suitcase to me? and can they live off journals? and how long can they really feed off the blankets before finally dying??? please and thank!! =] Commented on HelloLife · November 19, 2009 at 6:04 PM
Hello, I hope someone can answer this for me. I read that heat will kill the lice and KILL EGGS as well. Is this true, and if it is than after treating the hair and blowdrying it I was thinking of useing a strightener (it gets really hot)all throught my daughters head. Do u think this would kill any live ones that are left and all the eggs? the reason i ask is I have treated her twice now and i found 1 live one and sonme more eggs. Commented on HelloLife · February 26, 2010 at 10:13 PM
Cut the single pieces of hair out!!Why take a chance after all that work!Good Luck! Commented on HelloLife · April 5, 2010 at 10:04 PM
Try Licenex shampoo on her head - it washes away lice and nits (eggs) with enzymes - the enzyme can dissolve the outer protective coating of the lice then comb through the hair with a nit comb. One treatment might be enough
but this is not a shampoo with harsh chemicals - but it does the job. Commented on HelloLife · April 26, 2010 at 3:21 PM
ok my friend has lice i just noticed and she slept over at my house so she has been in my room under my bead and has been all over my room and cloths that i wear and has been all in my house so just wondering if sence she has been in my room and under my bed wich had my close under it is the lice in her hair going to be in my room like under my bed and in my room and house and slept on my couch in my livingroom and sat on a chair in my livingroom plzzz idont want lice i never had it!! plzz answer as soon as possable plzz!!! im really young and scared!!! Commented on HelloLife · July 2, 2010 at 11:50 PM
There is a shampoo called Licenex that washes away lice and nits (Eggs). Wash everything with this soap and check for living lice or nits = use a nit comb on your hair. All is not lost just be methodical. Commented on HelloLife · July 21, 2010 at 2:56 PM
I Really Need Help..!!!!!!
like i had lice two years aqo cuz i found one in my hair..
and my mom been washing my hair like every week now and then most of the times i hear and feel things in my hair like i think i still have lice. But how could it possibly be still in my hair after two years!!!
i told my mom my hair is so itchy she just says my hair needs to be washed WHAT SHOULD I DO PLZ I KEEP SCRATCHING MY EARS AND HAIR SO BAD Commented on HelloLife · July 30, 2010 at 5:01 PM
Like is there any other way to get rid of them without having to buy rid and stuff like that in the stores Commented on HelloLife · July 30, 2010 at 5:08 PM
umm actually rhey do jump, they just dont fly, hope that tells you something Commented on HelloLife · August 21, 2010 at 5:15 AM
Hi Christina im so sorry to hear about your problem.I have also had head lice and am still trying to get rid of them all.The best way to get rid of them is to follow these steps:
1: With an adult cover your hair with a solution made from Tea Tree oil and water (you can put it in a spray bottle)
place a shower cap over your hair this will sufficate the lice.
2: After half an hour rememove the shower cap and cover your hair with conditioner.
3: Use a fine tooth comb (you can purchase a lice comb from your local pharmacy) and comb through your hair in sections.
4: The lice will get trapped in the tooth of the comb.
5: Have a bucket of boiling water near by so you can rinse out the comb. You will find heaps of lice (bugs) and nits (eggs) in the water.
6: After combing through your hair thoroughly wash your hair as normal. Repeat this process everyday for 7 to 10 days. And then as a precoutionary method wash and condition your hair everyday using the lice comb.
This has worked for me Good Luck !
For more info visit Wikipidia. Commented on HelloLife · August 25, 2010 at 5:37 AM
oh ma qosh thank u Commented on HelloLife · September 5, 2010 at 3:31 PM
You could probably kill lice with permanent solution, but we would not recommend it. Try natural methods, like tea tree oil, before using harsh synthetics. Commented on HelloLife · September 8, 2010 at 10:30 AM
ok thank u Commented on HelloLife · September 8, 2010 at 5:31 PM
One other thing, Gail. You might find the following article interesting:
Thanks for reading! Commented on HelloLife · October 19, 2010 at 3:04 PM
Actually, thats a myth, head lice actually prefer clean hair, over dirty hair, its easier for them to breed and the nits to stick to the hair. Often times, if you use hair product in your hair it reduces or prevents them from sticking with you. My son just got lice from his preschool. Its a pain in the butt, but not the end of the world. I shaved his head down and washed and picked thru his hair killing what I find and hot washed the linens and clothing. Commented on HelloLife · November 19, 2010 at 11:49 AM
hello all...my niece continues to get lice seems we get rid of it only for it to come right back ...mind you she has beautiful locks of curls and it takes hours to comb thru with a nit comb but im the only one she will allow to do it...not real sure why it keeps returning...any insight??? i treated her head on sunday and planning to repeat weekend hoping it goes away...best advice i can give is if you have a child in school or daycare and they start itching check the head immediately... Commented on HelloLife · October 20, 2011 at 10:31 PM
I shampoo my daughters hair every morning with tea tree shampoo - the lice are repelled by the smell. I have also heard that conditioner makes the hair shaft to slippery for the eggs to stick - not sure if this is true but worth a try if you are having continual problems. Commented on HelloLife · November 29, 2011 at 3:48 AM
My daughter currently has head lice and it has been a challenge but nothing no parent can't handle. Here are some helpful facts to help you erase some of the myths heard.
Lice prefer both clean and dirty hair, it makes no difference. Clean hair allows the lice to move more easily among the hair strand while dirty hair allows for faster breeding. Lice does not equal poor parenting, anyone can get it.
Those who have gotten it repeatedly back to to back need to make sure that they are checking the enitre family for lice. If you rid your child of lice but then another household member has it, all you are doing is transfereing the lice back and forth. Only the person(s) infected needs to be treated, the other family members should be checked daily just to make sure they do not have it.
Head lice happens to be the second most common condition among children and 80 percent of schools across the country have at least one outbreak per year. LIke I said before, anyone can get it.
Lice cannot jump or fly, they can only crawl. When scratching the head, they can be flung, causing the appearance of jumping.
Head lice can only live for 24 hours when away from a human host. They cannot live in pillows, sofas, or any other surface for any longer than a 24 hour window.
All lice do not die immediately after lice treatment. It often takes several hours so it is recommend going through with a lice comb two hours after the treatment. By doing so, you increase your chances of removing all of the lice.
Last but not least, more than one treatment needs to be done on the hair to kill any newly hatched lice. Commented on HelloLife · December 9, 2011 at 11:43 AM
Thanks very much for the article, it was interesting!
I've also found some good information on http://www.vosenekids.co.uk/headlice-knowledge/
It still makes me chuckle when people believe that head lice can jump from head to head.
All the best! Commented on HelloLife · January 4, 2012 at 7:44 AM
I manage a pest control company and get questions about lice all the time. It usually takes 48 hours for a louse to die without a blood meal (feeding). Heat will kill lice and eggs but it has to be over 125 degrees. You can wash items but it's really drying that kills the lice. I would suggest a steam cleaner on furniture that you sit on frequently. If someone is constantly getting reinfested, it could be a child or friend at day care. My son got lice from his girlfriend, no one else in the house ended up with them, but I used the rite-aid brand lice shampoo and that did the trick. I also washed and dried his bedding on high heat. My eight, six, and one year old never ended up getting lice from their brother (Thank God).
One other thing, I would suggest sending a garbage bag to school with your child so they can place their coat and other items inside it. It will help prevent lice spreading to their items.
Commented on HelloLife · January 5, 2012 at 10:14 AM
My daughter got lice in Grade 9! I thought this was strange until she told me her friend who had slept over had it. That friend has a younger sister. So you see how easy it is to "spread the love". I got her hair all cleaned up and did one last check (one week after the second shampoo) and found nothing. I took her for a hair cut, her ends were so damaged from the shampoo. The hairdresser saw nothing as well. That night, with perfectly clean hair she had another sleepover with that same friend. Last night, one week after the sleepover, there was lice in her hair. Urrrgh! Back to the washing, picking routine again!!! Commented on HelloLife · January 13, 2012 at 6:10 AM
I have had lice a couple of times, and the over the counter and perscribed stuff never worked for me.
What we learned is that dying my hair has always done the trick.
Also remember to spray down your car seets! Commented on HelloLife · January 31, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Dawn dishwashing liquid (twice) then conditioner, works every time Commented on HelloLife · February 14, 2012 at 10:15 PM
at my daughter school theres so many kids with head lice...come out to be that my daughter didnt get it first check around next thing u kno they rechecked her again n there she goes with the lil eggs..im so discusted by this ughhh..i even get sick to my stomach ...i treated her w the shampoon n myself just in case n so far no eggs or nothing ...but last nite i checked her new pillow i sprayed rubbing alcohol n a few lices came out the pillow case ..omg i almost died!!! yuckkk...thats wha really i dont understand how is it possible she didnt have it on her hair after or before just had the lil eggs n w the treatment n removing it with the comb we havent seen anything...but then again she had lice on her pillow how can this be possible??? could have an egg fell on the bed n hatched there..right now i have her room locked with alcohol n clorox all over ...i dont kno wha to do :( Commented on HelloLife · March 17, 2012 at 10:30 AM
Hi Wanda. You've got to be sure to wash all bedding on hot and dry on high if possible. Also a good idea to shampoo any furniture she may have rest her head on. Commented on HelloLife · March 19, 2012 at 8:09 AM
My mind was enlightened after i read this blog thank you so much! Commented on HelloLife · April 1, 2012 at 5:22 AM
I would like to know how far apart hangers should be in a area that coats are hung (public area) to prevent sharing stuff like head lice, scabies, and other contagious skin rashes. Commented on HelloLife · May 1, 2012 at 10:18 AM
i know it sounds weird .. but i got it from school when i was younger. I had long blonde hair (i sat on it when i sat down) and after the second time of me catching it, my mom heard that dog dip (you can get it from the vet) worked well with it. I soaked my hair in it, let it sit for about ten minutes, then put conditioner on it, so that the lice brush would go through it easier. Works like a charm! kills all the bugs, and the nits come out easy. Only thing is, is it smells horrible, but after washing your hair a few times, you can never tell it. Commented on HelloLife · September 24, 2012 at 2:54 AM
The simplest and quickest way to completely rid your head of lice is to, combine tea tree oil and
Water into a 25% solution, that's 4 parts water and one part *pure* tea tree oil, completely saturate hair in this solution for an hour
After which time a louse comb should be used to remove the dissolved eggs and suffocated lice, the oil suffocates that adult louse by
Slightly dissolving its exoskeleton thus filling its abdominal breathing system, and also dissolves the 'glue' that is produced to attach the eggs to the hair follicle. After the hair has been soaked and combed, rinsing in a vinegar/water solution is recommended to kill any extra eggs that are left. Repeat this process for a week and you won't be scratching again, just remember that dealing with the problem of lice is more about accuracy and persistence and if you expect results without these 2 steps, you will fail! Good luck! Commented on HelloLife · January 1, 2013 at 10:52 PM
My daughter got lice from school two weeks ago. Four months ago, it was brought to my attention that kids in her class had lice. The school did not notify anyone. I had assumed that the problem would have been taken care of, but it hasn't. The day the school told me she had lice, I immediately treated her head. I found no live or dead lice but did find a few nits and spent hours going through her hair and picking them out with my fingernails. That comb they recommend hardly removed anything. Everything in my house was washed and sanitized. I found absolutely no live on my head at all. Our heads have been checked twice daily for the past two weeks. There has been no sign of reinfestation. Now, two weeks later, the school informed me that they found a single louse on my daughter's head today. No nits. I called her doctor's office and was told that the prescription they offer is extremely flammable and toxic. They do not prescribe it unless lice have survived multiple over the counter treatments. I was told to treat her head again now and a second time in one week. I was told not to wash the hair for at least two days after treatment and not to use conditioner for to weeks. The comments on here are saying to wash immediately and use conditioner. Again, I have to wash and sanitize everything in my house. IT TOOK ME EIGHT DAYS TO DO IT THE FIRST TIME! I AM FURIOUS! On top of that, the school indicated that this reinfestation of my daughter's head occurred in my home. I take extreme offense to them saying that. The school infestation did not begin with my daughter and I am angry at them for suggesting that something in my house is causing it. I wonder which imaginary person it is that has been housing the lice for the past two weeks, the fairy or the mermaid? I am thinking of contacting the health department and asking them to go to te school and perhaps shut it down for a period of time. Can they do that? Commented on HelloLife · February 20, 2013 at 7:46 PM
after you have treated the hair you could use tea tree oil mixed with water and spray it on your furniture, rugs and bedding as the head lice don't like the smell. that should deter them from staying in those places Commented on HelloLife · March 21, 2013 at 4:21 AM
my sister got head lice in about march and we got rid of them asap then about a month later she was itching again and we got rid of then asap then another few months later she was itching again, and we got rid of them asap and now she currently has them worse than ever, I'm one comb it takes out about 20 eggs we have found well over 20 love lice in one layer of hair and do not know what to do no longer we are carrying on combing through the hair everyday but its ridiculous she is getting her hair cut and we are going to take her to the doctors does anyone have any suggestions on what we can do to help this awful situation? Commented on HelloLife · July 21, 2013 at 8:29 AM
okay you have to help me out here! My best friend has head lice (its a very bad condition, her hair is very damaged so its all poofy and she won't cut it. By this point I think she'd have to shave her whole head to fix the problem) We have a very close relationship and we hug/cuddle a lot. I am constantly getting lice from her. I've finally grown my hair to shoulder length after so many years of having it extremely short and I like it and I'm afraid it going to get to the point where I'll have to cut it. Is there anyway I can keep these things from invading my hair every time I see her? When school starts again it'll only get worse. Please help me! Commented on HelloLife · July 21, 2013 at 10:58 PM
My daughter is 6years old with her hair almost up to her knees, she got head lice 2 days before school was out this year, did her hair with Nix cream rinse, now its back again for the 3rd time w/treatment...im almost to the point of cuttin her hair really short & i dont want to do that as she was wanting to donate her hair to cancer society....someone please help me....tired of doin her hair all the time :( Commented on HelloLife · July 31, 2013 at 12:18 PM
I use 1/4 cup of vinegar 3/4 oil any kind work but you mix them together in a jar shake well then start soaking the hair rubbing into scalp ect leave in hair 45 mins to an hour put a shower cap or bag around hair to keep from dripping once time is up rince hair with shampoo only then use nit comb to get all the dead eggs and lice out comb hair every day with nit comb to get any you may have missed works every time and repeat after 10 days Commented on HelloLife · August 5, 2013 at 12:28 PM
I have lice right now but i'm still trying to get rid of it my heads so itchy and I don't know what to do it seems like the treatment is getting most of them out and my mom has been doing it every week but i'm still itchy does anyone know what to do to get rid of the head lice and itchiness. Commented on HelloLife · August 12, 2013 at 11:15 PM
I have been fighting lice all summer, the grandkids have been passing them back and forth and we have been treating with lice shampoo. Someone told me that the lice can build up a resistance to the shampoo and to alternate the shampoo with treatments of Listerine. So I started experimenting. I have found this to work best for me, but you have to be very thorough. I first completely drench the hair with Listerine, then cover it a plastic head wrap. I leave that on for about 30 minutes, they will start to raise up to the top of the hair, I guess to try to breathe. But they are much easier to see. Then I take a bottle of Vitamin E oil, (I found it inexpensive at the dollar stores) and I drench the hair now in the oil. I then simply divide the hair in to sections and very carefully and thoroughly comb out the nits and lice. The oil loosens the nits and allows them to come out with the comb easier. I counted over 800 eggs and bugs once in a little girl that had long very thick hair. We were astounded. We wiped the comb off each time on a white clean paper towel and could see the nits and lice better on the white paper towel. This is a bit more gentle on the hair and if you miss one nit or louse, in a few days it will start all over again, and the little baby ones are so very hard to see. Repeater this about every other day until there are no bugs or nits. Remember to be very thorough. Commented on HelloLife · September 12, 2013 at 1:59 AM
Hi all! What worked best for my high-school-aged daughter was using a hair straightener on the highest level to fry the nits and most of the lice. Then I went through her hair and cut the strands that had the nits, just in case. She also soaked her hair with Listerine (with alcohol in it) and kept her hair in a shower cap for a few hours. All this plus, of course, laundering everything, etc. We also closed up her room for a few days or so to starve all the critters in there. Finally, she's been lice-free for months! Hope this helps some of you. Commented on HelloLife · November 13, 2013 at 8:32 PM
Put baking soda all over your scalp and then poor vinigar all over your hair, leave it as long as you can (but not to long cause it can burn your scalp) shampoo your hair after you rinse the vinigar out you can use a nit/lice shampoo instead of regular shampoo for extra protection to get rid of them if you want and then condition.....this works great for my family! We have so many in my family someone gets it almost every year and this will get rid of it, it's worked great for us! The baking soda loosens up the nits and makes them easier to comb out and the vinigar kills them. Repeat every three to four days for two weeks for even better protection if you can Commented on HelloLife · January 6 at 5:35 PM
Amanda, Yes they will shut a school down if the head lice is out of control. They will do their sanitary clean (hahah) which we feel if it has been done correctly, there should never be any head lice in our schools. But also not everyone cleans their homes as well as you and I. I clean so much that if drives my husband crazy, I tell him a clean house keeps the bugs and germs away. Commented on HelloLife · March 17 at 11:42 AM