Elementary schools are the perfect place for illnesses to spread, and even though head lice aren’t germs, these parasites can run rampant amongst children. Is the child’s hair dirty? How are lice treated? How long do lice live? For parents, getting a call from the school nurse that a child has lice is a scary experience, and one that raises a lot of questions.
How to Tell it a Scalp is Infested
The public consensus is that a person has to have dirty hair in order to become a host to lice. This is in no way true. If anything, lice prefer clean hair because it is easier to move through. Lice reproduce in the scalp and lay eggs near the hair shaft. Lice are often mistaken for dandruff. The main indicator of a lice infestation is itchiness. Lice bite the scalp in order to feed off blood, and the saliva from these pests is highly irritating, especially to people with sensitive skin.
Life Cycle of the Louse
Lice spread through direct contact, so it is easy to see why these bugs love children. It only takes a pair of lice to start an infestation. First, eggs, called nits, are laid at the hair shaft. The eggs are difficult to remove, and must be picked out with tweezers or a fine-tooth comb. After 7 days, the eggs hatch. Nymphs molt three times over the course of 8 days before reaching adulthood. The answer to “how long do lice live?” is between 30 and 50 days. However, because a new generation of nymphs is routinely hatching, it can feel as though the answer to “how long do lice live?” is an eternity.
The Best Way to Treat Lice
Most people turn to prescription shampoos; however, lice can build up an immunity to these medications, rendering expensive treatments useless. Furthermore, lice medications usually contain harsh chemicals that can cause serious side effect, including a worsening of scalp irritation. To effectively treat lice, the host should apply an all-natural shampoo and conditioner that is designed to kill adult lice and lice eggs. A fine-tooth comb should be used to remove even more nits. The treatment should be performed several times to ensure the outbreak does not begin again.
Taking Precautions against Lice
Preventing lice is much easier than getting rid of these pests. Avoid direct contact with infected individuals, and do not share hats, clothing, bedding, or any other personal belongings. After undergoing lice treatment, individuals need to vacuum carpets and drapes, and clean furniture and other household items, as these may contain nits. Additionally, while the answer to “how long do lice live” may be 30 to 50 days, these pests cannot survive more than 48 hours without a meal of human blood, so sealing clothes in a plastic bag for a few days will ensure that surviving lice die.
How long do lice live? Too long! Lice are easy to catch and hard to get rid of. Harsh chemical lice treatments often do more harm than good. An all-natural lice treatment system is soothing and effective, and should be followed up with an all-natural lice-repelling spray to prevent another infestation from occurring.