HOW ARE HEAD LICE SPREAD?
Head lice are spread whenever there is direct contact of your head or hair with an infested individual. Head lice can also be spread through the sharing of personal articles like hats, brushes, helmets, hair ties, pillows/bedding, etc. While it is possible to contract head lice from movie theater seats, airline seats, a pedicurists chair, etc. Your child, who then passed it on to the rest of the family, most likely got head lice at school, childcare, a sleepover, or anywhere children congregate.
Head lice are not physically able to jump or fly. Thankfully those little pests aren't flying all over the place, or we would all be in big trouble.
HOW LONG CAN NITS AND HEAD LICE LIVE ONCE OFF A HUMAN HEAD?
Nits(lice eggs) that have fallen off the human head will likely never hatch at all, as they need human warmth to incubate. A nit that does manage to hatch off of a head results in tiny nymph which, without an accessible and nearby human, is doomed because it requires an immediate blood meal.
Adult head lice, off of their human hosts, will generally not survive for more than 24 hours. They also require blood meals frequently and will loose energy and die if not able to eat within about 24 hours.
WHAT IS THE LIFE CYCLE OF HEAD LICE?
A female louse lays anywhere from 6-10 eggs per day. Once the eggs have been laid it takes a little more than a week for them to hatch. It then takes another week for them to mature, giving the female and male louse the ability to mate and the female louse can then begin laying her own eggs.
Head lice survive on a human host for approximately 30 days.
CAN MY PET GET HEAD LICE?
No. Head lice are human parasites and require human blood for survival. Every pet whose human family has lice, can be found cowering in a corner waiting to be shaved, dipped, and quarentined outside.
ARE AFRICAN AMERICANS SUSCEPTIBLE TO HEAD LICE?
Yes, although African Americans have a much lower incidence of head lice than Caucasians, Hispanics and Asian Americans. Even though African Americans may be less susceptible to infestations, it's not grounds for complacency. African Americans can, and do, get head lice.
DO I NEED TO SPRAY MY FURNITURE AND BEDDING FOR HEAD LICE?
No. It is always important to remember that head lice are a human parasite and require human blood to survive. They are not environmental pests so pesticidal sprays for furniture and bedding are unnecessary and pose a risk to health. Vacuuming is the safest and best way to remove head lice or fallen hairs with attached nits from upholstered furniture, rugs, stuffed animals and cars. Laundering of recently worn hats, scarves, coats/jackets, stuffed animals and bedding is also the safest and most effective way to kill head lice. Head lice are not like bed bugs, they do not burrow through bedding into mattresses and pillows, so spraying these items is not necessary. Keep in mind that head lice generally do not live longer than 24 hours off a human host, so when treating your home focus on the areas that the person with head lice has been within that time frame. So many families completely exhaust themselves cleaning, vacuuming, spraying, and scrubbing their homes during their battle with lice. Try to keep it simple and safe, your house is not your battleground, your child's head is.
HOW DO HEAD LICE FEED?
A louse bites through the skin and injects saliva which prevents blood from clotting; it then sucks blood into its digestive tract. Bloodsucking may continue for a long period of time if the louse is not disturbed. Head lice mouth parts are highly adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood, and these mouth parts are retracted into the insect's head except during feeding.
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