Adult Male Head Louse. Center For Disease Control

The scientific name of a head louse is pediculus capitis. However, that might be of no interest to you if your kids have returned home from school with head lice. What you might be interested in is to find out how to get rid of these parasites.

Here is one thing you should know: you cannot succeed in this battle unless you know your enemy. So, let us take a look at what a head louse is and how one gets infected with head lice and what you should know to get rid of them.

A head louse lives only on humans. Adult lice have six legs and they feed on our blood. They do not have any wings, so they cannot fly. They are not that easy to get infected with. They cannot jump. All they can do is to crawl. This is why more than 90 percent of cases of lice contamination happen through direct, close head-to-head contact.

A head louse lives for about 30 days. It lays eggs, called nits. There are two facts you should know about these eggs. They hatch within 7 to 10 days and they cannot be killed with pesticide shampoos used for adult lice. An alternative treatment is needed to kill and remove the nits and to prevent getting re-infested with head lice.

A newly hatched head louse is called a nymph. It is a baby louse, which cannot lay eggs yet. It matures in 10 days and starts reproducing. Nymphs are harder to spot than adult lice because they are light in color and very small.

Nits are the easiest to spot. If you or your kids got live nits on the hair, this means you are infested with pediculosis. Live nits are glued to the hair, while hatched or dead nits can easily be removed from it. When treating head lice, you should always remember to use two different treatments for adult lice and for nits. Then, you can get rid of them fast.


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