26 Apr The Three Stages of Lice
There are three stages to the life of a head louse. Knowing these three stages will help you
understand how best to rid yourself of an infestation. Head lice are notorious for being difficult
to remove because there are so many of them and they’re evolved to stand up too many common
treatments. Another difficulty is that some products will only target lice when they’re in a
specific stage of their life cycles. A great head lice treatment solution will target lice regardless
of the stage of their life cycle they happen to be in. So what are the main life cycle stages of lice?
Stage 1 – The Egg
Many people think that nits and head lice are interchangeable terms. This is far from the truth.
When someone talks about ‘nits’ they’re actually talking about the eggs. The eggs are often the
most difficult things to remove because they’re tiny and can easily be mistaken for dandruff or
hair spray residue. Eggs are found closest to the scalp and are tiny. You will often need a
magnifying glass to see them. They’ll either be yellow or white and will not easily detach from
the hair shaft. Eggs typically take about a week to hatch.
Stage 2 – The Nymph
When the egg hatches it releases what’s known as a nymph. It’s easy to mistake nymphs for fully
grown head lice because they look similar. The way to tell them apart is that the nymph will still
be attached to the hair shaft and will be about the size of a pinhead. A nymph comes to the end of
its life cycle stage about a week after hatching.
Stage 3 – The Louse
What we refer to as ‘head lice’ is the fully grown louse. The head louse has six legs with claws
and will appear as either tan or white. People with darker hair will typically have darker head
lice. The female head louse is slightly bigger than a male head louse and will lay up to eight eggs
per day. The adult lice can live for about a month on someone’s head. They need to feed on the
blood of their hosts several times a day to survive. They can only survive for one or two days
without a blood meal.
As you can see, from the egg to the death of an adult head louse a single bug can last for about
45 days on your head. If a head lice treatment solution doesn’t target each stage of the life cycle
the lice can easily return. Some people will find that they’re lice free only to have them return a
few days or weeks later. This is not because they’ve come into contact with someone else who
has head lice. It’s due to the fact that they may have removed the head lice but they didn’t
remove the nits. Look into the different head lice removal products carefully to ensure this
doesn’t happen to you or someone you know.