// Everything you need to know about head lice

What is the difference between a nit and an egg?
A nit is the egg that a head louse lays – it’s just another word for the same thing.

How can we tell if the louse or the nit is alive or dead?
The head lice will be crawling if it is alive. A dead nit or egg is either white or flat and dry. A healthy nit is plump and golden brown in colour.

On average, what is the number of nits/eggs a louse can lay?
A female louse lays up to 10 eggs a day and continues to do this for up to 30 days – so 300 eggs in her lifetime.

What is the average number of lice found on an infested person’s head?
An average infestation has between 5 and 20 head lice and up to 100 eggs.

I have heard that Afro Caribbean hair doesn’t get infested with head lice. How true is that?
Afro Caribbean hair has a different shaped hair shaft and there is a differently adapted head louse for this hair type.

Will shaving my child’s head help?
You can shave a boy’s hair but you still need to nit comb the hair stubble as head lice lay their eggs very close to the root of the hair – you will be surprised what you can find even on a cm of hair. It is more difficult to shave your daughter’s hair – that can have rather more serious social effects! Removing the lice another way is a better option!

Do head lice like dirty hair more than clean hair?
Contrary to popular belief, head lice do not have a preference for clean or dirty hair because they are interested in the human’s blood not their hair.

Will my pets get my head lice too?
Your pets will not catch head lice from you. Human head lice cannot survive off animal blood as its composition is different from human blood.

Can I see head lice jumping on the child’s head?
Head lice cannot jump or fly. They simply walk very quickly – up to 23cm in a minute. People often swear they jump but they don’t. If you nit comb the hair dry, without applying a conditioner and use a metal nit comb then you will build up static energy in the hair and that may propel a louse – making it look like it jumped!

What is the average life of a louse?
Too long! An adult louse lives for up to thirty days and can lay up to 300 eggs in that time. The female only needs to mate once and so over that 30 days can do a lot of damage.

Will everyone feel an itchy scalp from lice?
Not everyone will feel itchy with head lice. It is the saliva of the louse that makes some people itch if they are allergic to it. If you aren’t allergic to it, you won’t itch.

What is the time required for a nit to hatch?
The eggs take between seven and eleven days to mature and hatch, although this extends when the infestation is heavy and /or long term.

What do head lice look like?
Head lice are small insects with six legs and they can range from light to dark brown. Adult head lice are often described as being the size of a sesame seed. They can get quite black looking as the blood oxidizes inside them.

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