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How long can head lice live in my home?
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Author: Q-Based Customer Service
Views: 3
Votes: 6

The head lice in your environment should die off in about 48 hours if they do not feed off of a human host. The nits need to feed within 45 minutes of hatching in order for them to survive.


Head Lice Facts

  • The head louse is a miniature greyish-brown mite just 2.5mm long which hangs on to hair and is generally found on the scalp.
  • Head lice dine on blood from the host, which they get by piercing through the scalp and digesting into their digestive systems.
  • After the lice mate, the female lays eggs that are securely attached to hair near to the scalp and could be very difficult to get rid of.
  • After seven or eight days the infant head louse comes out of the egg, leaving a shiny white empty eggshell (nit), which may be found anywhere along a strand of hair.
  • Infection with head lice is a much prevalent infection in the UK, especially among school children as lice travel from one individual to another during direct head-to-head contact.
  • As lice cannot jump, fly or hop they will only transfer to another person by crawling along strands of hair.
  • Children sharing secrets at school or families at home engender head lice with a perfect opportunity to move from one head to the next.
  • Head lice found on pillows, hats or chair backs are not in the process of moving to another person - they have to be on a head of hair to be viable.
  • The thought that head lice are a product of inefficient hygiene is prevalent but is misfounded as lice are just as likely to be found on clean or dirty hair.
  • Head lice can be thought of as nothing more than an irritating inconvenience that can be treated, as they are completely removed in most cases.
  • Bites from head lice can cause intense itching and irritation on the skin, but these signs may not manifest until as long as two months after the lice move in.
  • To find head lice takes more than merely parting the hair and searching for nits, as the lice will move rapidly into hiding.
  • The simplest routine to search for head lice and nits is to buy a specially designed detection (nit) comb from a pharmacy; this is a fine-toothed plastic comb with spacing of less than 0.3mm.
  • Head lice nits could be eradicated by wet combing; simply wash hair and rinse with conditioner then, afterwards, rinse out the conditioner and look through hair again with the nit comb before drying.
  • It is important that in an infestation of head lice you look at every other member of the family, including all adults who have any contact with the patient.
  • You can discover when the lice first moved in by looking at how many centimetres from the scalp you can see the nits: hair grows at around 1cm a month; so a nit 2cm from the scalp was laid around two months ago.
  • If head lice are identified it is imperative to tell the school and parents of any other persons who might have had head-to-head contact with your child so that other children can be looked at for lice.
  • Head lice eggs can be almost impossible to kill because the treatment may not be able to penetrate the eggshell; you may need to repeat the treatment after seven days to kill any lice from eggs that survived the first application.
  • Head lice feed on our blood, and live upon ones hair follicles; they pierce through the scalp to get the nutrients they need.
  • Head lice are a surprisingly prevalent affliction even in the 21st century, and as they transfer very quickly will continue to be so.



P. K. said, “Head lice can fall from the head, but they need blood to survive. Lice need to feed 3-4 times a day. Without blood they will dehydrate in 24 hours depending on the climate. A nit or egg requires warmth to hatch. This is the reason why the eggs are laid close to the scalp. The further away from the scalp, the more likely they will not survive.”

Steve O. said, “They usually won’t survive for more than 48hours without the blood supply. You should vacuum the furniture that cannot be washed which will get rid of any stray lice. Also wash bed linen, clothes, towels etc in HOT water to ensure any lice are killed.” 

Linda F. writes, “I’ve heard that Head lice dies after 24 hrs without food. 12 hrs after detaching from the hair they are unable to reattach. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard anything like that. Is this true? ”
Rachel B. said, “ I was told that lice could stay alive up to 48 hours, especially if it's warm. They don’t often live that long but they can, so don’t take any chances. Wash everything. And things you can’t wash but will fit in your dryer, dry for at least 20 minutes. I sprayed my couch and furniture with the Bedding Spray. It worked great.”

Deanna said, “I put a lice bug that I took out of my daughter’s hair in a plastic bag. Two days later it was still moving around in the bag.”

Last update: 03:09 PM Sunday, March 29, 2009

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