What Are Lice?

Lice are a type of parasite known for attaching itself to human hair. The common louse feeds on human blood. We all know lice as head lice, as they are the most prevalent form. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate 12 million lice infestations each year. Medically, an outbreak is known as Pediculosis capitis. Infestations are most common in schools, where children are typically in close quarters and interact with each other. The lice, or nits, are then brought home and spread to family members.

Infestations are particularly troublesome. The female adult lice may lay up to six eggs per day. These eggs are deposited onto the shaft of hair, making them tricky to remove. Eggs less than six millimeters from the scalp are most likely to hatch. Those farther away, however, have less of a chance to hatch.

Typically, an egg requires one-week to hatch, producing a nymph. Nymphs experience three successive growth spurts, during which they molt until adult size is achieved. Once adults, lice are 2-3 mm in length (about the size of a sesame seed) and difficult to spot. Despite what most believe, lice range in color from white to brown. The darker the color, the harder they may be to detect.

Nymphs multiply fast. Lice typically feed on blood four to five times per day. Using their miniscule mouthparts, they bite into the skin and secrete a substance that blocks the body’s natural ability to clot.

Furthermore, lice can happen to anyone, not just children. Some are at higher risk of encountering lice, of course. Children are one such group with a higher risk; so are office workers.

If you suspect lice, we recommend visiting Lice Lifters of Texas  for professional treatment options. The quicker you act, the less likely lice are to spread!