Identify Head Lice
An itchy scalp (scratching) may be a sign that Head Lice are present. However, especially in the beginning stages of infestation, this condition may not present itself. Some with less sensitive skin may never complain of an itchy scalp, while others will be irritated more easily. In many cases it takes time for the presence of the head louse to cause the itchy sensation which makes it difficult to even identify head lice infestation. The itchy sensation may be the first indication of the presence of head lice.
This is a human condition. Anyone – any age – any social status can become infested. Improper diagnosis is common. BE SURE head lice and / or eggs are present prior to commencing ANY form of treatment. Dandruff, sand, dirt, or hair casts often commonly found in everyone’s hair may be mistaken for an outbreak or infestation of head lice. These kinds of debris can easily be removed or “flicked” off the hair shaft. Head Lice have barbed hooks on each of their six legs with which they firmly attach themselves to the shaft of the hair making them extremely difficult to remove. They also are capable of traveling very quickly on the scalp making them hard to find (in addition to being hard to remove). Head Lice Eggs are firmly glued to the hair shaft (close to the scalp) and feel like a tiny knot in the hair.
If you can not easily pull it off or flick it off – it IS an egg.
Be sure to properly identify Head Lice!
Look for lice and lice eggs in the hot spots. These hot spots are around the ears, at the crown of the head and at the nape of the neck. Make certain to to use bright lights and proper magnification when looking. Natural sunlight is best. Divide the hair into sections and look carefully for lice eggs and live lice crawling through the hair or sucking blood from the scalp. Lice lay their eggs close to the scalp (eggs need body heat to incubate) but look along the whole hair shaft. Remember to carefully check the heads of ALL family members. Don’t forget to have your own head checked. Remember if it is white like paper or snow, it is not a lice egg.
What are Head Lice? – This will help to properly identify Head lice!
- Adult Head lice are small gray or reddish brown bugs / insects (approximately 1mm to 4mm in length) depending on their age (about the size of a sesame seed).
- They have six legs and do not have wings.
- Lice live only on the human head and prefer the nape of the neck, the crown of the head and around the ears (but may be found on all areas of the head).
- Head Lice do not live on pets or any other parts of the human body.
- They feed on human blood (yes they consume the blood of the host) and are not able to survive more than 24 to 48 hours without a blood meal. This is good news.
- They do not jump, hop and are unable to fly.
- Female lice lay eggs – three to five per day and live for 30 days. They need a male to mate with.
- Eggs are tear drop shaped and are securely glued to the shaft of the hair at an angle making them extremely difficult to remove. Eggs are glued to only one side of the hair shaft and may feel like a tiny knot in the hair.
- The fertile eggs are typically brownish / yellow to carmel in colour. Empty egg cases (eggs that have hatched) or dead eggs are called nits. These are clear (without colour) or opaque (almost see through).
- The term “nit” may also sometimes be used for a viable (fertile) egg.
- Viable or fertile eggs are never white in colour.
- Lice eggs take seven to ten days to hatch and require an additional seven to ten days to mature so they can mate and continue the cycle.
- Baby lice are called ” Nymphs”. When hatched, a nymph is about the size of a pin head. Once an egg hatches (into a nymph) it MUST feed immediately.
- Nymphs shed their exoskeleton three times before maturing into a male or female adult.
Identify Head Lice – nymph to adult.