The Facts of Lice

Head lice are a very common problem, especially for kids. They're contagious, annoying, and sometimes tough to get rid of, but they pose no immediate health risk. Here’s what you need to know:

 Life cycle of the lice

Life cycle of the lice


  • Lice is spread mainly through head-to-head contact (the research suggests 98% of the time!), but sharing clothing, bed linens, combs, and hats also can pass them along.

  • Kids are most prone to catching lice because they tend to have close physical contact with each other and share personal items.

  • Head lice are tiny insects that can vary in color from grayish white to reddish brown. Lice range in size from 2-4mm, approximately the size of a sesame seed.  

  • A louse needs to eat every 2-3 hours and when they miss a meal (yes...your blood) they become weak. Once separated from its human host a louse will not survive more than 24 hours.

  • Lice have a life expectancy of 30 days.

  • Lice cannot jump or fly, but they do move at amazing speeds.

Did You Know?

  • As many as 50% of the individuals with head lice NEVER ITCH, and those who do itch only do so after they’ve had lice for 14 DAYS.

  • Head lice found on dark-haired or dark-skinned individuals will most likely be darker than those found on blonde-haired or lighter-skinned individuals.

  • Lice eggs, nits, are the shape of a tiny dark tadpole. Once hatched, they appear light or white.  

  • The louse lays eggs by gluing them to the hair, and as a result the eggs will appear to be stuck to the hair shaft. Unlike dry skin or dandruff, nits will not move when disturbed.

  • Since eggs (nits) are glued to the hair, all the brushing and washing on earth won't help.

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  (Courtesy of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

(Courtesy of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Final Facts About Lice

  • The female louse lays eggs twice a day and can lay as many as five nits at a time, or 10 nits a day.

  • Eggs (nits) generally hatch in 7-10 days.

  • Nits found on an abandoned strand of hair have minimal chance of survival, they need the heat of the head and food immediately (yes, your blood!).
  • Head lice are human obligatory parasites, which means they only live on humans and need a human to survive.  

  • Pets cannot contract head lice.

  • Head lice are among the most common reasons for absenteeism in schools across the country.

  • There are literary references to lice as far back as 16 B.C., where Egyptians once concocted their own remedies to combat head lice.