Head Lice (Pediculus Humanus Capitis)

Head lice are tiny wingless insects that live in human hair. Head lice are grey-brown in colour, the size of a pinhead when hatched and of a sesame seed when fully grown. They cannot fly, jump or swim and are spread by head-to-head contact, climbing from the hair of an infected person to the hair of someone else.

Life cycle of head lice

  • A female head louse lays eggs by cementing them to hairs (often close to the root) where they are kept warm by the scalp. The eggs are pinhead size and difficult to see.
  • After 7-10 days, the baby lice hatch and the empty eggshells remain glued in place. These remains are known as nits. Nits glisten white and become more noticeable as the hair grows and carries them away from the scalp.
  • Head lice feed by biting the scalp and feeding on blood. They take 6-10 days to become fully grown. Once mature, a head louse can crawl from head to head.
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