Frequently Asked Questions – Head Lice FAQs

Table of Contents

What should be cleaned?

Majority of lice are transmitted directly from person to person, there is no need for extra cleaning. To get rid of lice or nits from items like hats or pillowcases: Wash the items in hot water and dry in a hot dryer for 15 min; or store the items in an airtight plastic bag for 2 weeks.

Should I use insecticides in the house?

Insecticidal sprays are not well recommended by majority of health care experts. This will not help treat or control a lice problem and may unnecessarily expose family members to toxic fumes.

Can anything repel lice?

The application of any substance to the hair with an expectation of repelling lice is not an effective methodology nor is it safe and recommended.

How can I have lice specimens evaluated?

Health care professionals and others may send samples to concerned government “pesticide control and killing “departments for evaluation, such that the identity of suspected lice and eggs is confirmed. Also such institutes may have evaluation forms which patients need to fill up for documentation purposes. Patients are however suggested to consult their doctor for assistance and to discuss treatment.

Do head lice bite?

Head lice feed by biting the scalp and feeding on human blood. Head lice feed several times during a 24-hour period. It’s how they survive and infest. Their bites can makes infested person feel itchy.

Should a child with head lice be kept off school?

No. There is no reason for your child to miss out on their education just because of head lice. It is very important to know that the methods used to control a head louse infestation not cause more of a problem than the head lice themselves. One major problem for a child with head lice is that they might not be allowed to attend school as long as nits can be found in their hair.

‘No-nit’ policies that keep children with head lice away from school are not necessary because:

Head lice are common among young children.

Head lice don’t spread disease.

Cases of head lice are often misdiagnosed.

Children can have head lice for several weeks with no symptoms.

Can head lice spread to my body?

Head lice and body lice although look much alike but are actually different species. The infestation of head lice sometimes extends into the eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard. No such cases of head lice spreading to body have been reported.

Are electronic combs good at treating head lice?

Electronic lice combs use a small electrical charge to kill lice. When the comb is used on dry hair, lice make contact with multiple tines of the fine-toothed comb, thereby closing the circuit and receiving an electrical charge. Electronic combs are better for thick hair however not recommended for long and fine hairs as they have been reported to snag and pull hair.

What do head lice look like?

The adult head louse has six legs and is about the size of a sesame seed. Descriptions of their color vary, but generally they range from beige to gray and may become considerably darker when they feed.

Lice often appear to be the same color as the hair they’ve infested, making them hard to see with the naked eye.

Female lice lay up to ten minuscule eggs a day. Lice eggs (called nits) are oval in shape. They may appear to be the color of their host’s hair, ranging from white to yellow to brown.

Where are head lice most commonly found?

Head lice are most commonly found on scalp, particularly around and behind the ears and near the neckline at the back of the head.

Do head lice spread disease?

Researches to this date has not so far documented any fact that head lice spread any sort of disease. It is yet to be proven. It may or may not be possible for head lice to carry diseases.

Can swimming spread lice?

There is no document or well known risk of lice spread through swimming. Transmission may occur by means of sharing the personal belongings of an infested person such as towels, hair brush etc.

Do head lice jump?

Head lice don’t have hind legs to jump neither they have wings and thus cannot fly.

Do pets get head lice?

Head lice are human parasites and need only human blood for survival, they cannot survive on pets.

What is the life cycle of the head louse?

The life cycle of the head louse has three stages: egg, nymph, and adult.

        Nits: Nits are head lice eggs. Nits take about 1 week to hatch (range 6 to 9 days). Viable eggs are usually located within 6 mm of the scalp.

        Nymphs: The egg hatches to release a nymph. Nymphs mature after three molts and become adults about 7 days after hatching.

        Adults: The adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed. Females are usually larger than males and can lay up to 8 nits per day. Adult lice can live up to 30 days on a person’s head. To live, adult lice need to feed on blood several times daily. Without blood meals, the louse will die within 1 to 2 days off the host.

One comment

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