What Are Head Lice?

What Are Head Lice? Head lice are small wingless creatures, ectoparasites that live on humans infesting the scalp and nape of the neck. They thrive in the warm protected environment where there is always a meal handy by simply biting your scalp and sucking your blood. They are about the size of a mustard seed or sesame seed.

The itching associated with lice is most commonly caused by the bites as they heal. The lice are capable of laying 80 to 100 eggs in their short adult life. The eggs are referred to as “nits” and they hatch in about 7 days after being firmly attached to a shaft of hair close to the scalp. When they hatch they are called “nymphs”

Nymphs, as they emerge from the nits then readily feed on your blood, maturing in just seven days, and are then capable themselves of laying another 6 to 8 eggs a day for the next 20-30 days. The adults are called lice, or louse in the plural.

Head lice are not known as carriers for other diseases, and it may well be that the treatments are at times more dangerous than the lice themselves. More than anything, they are a huge inconvenience and a severe irritation. The cost to public health agencies is enormous each year, as they attempt to control the increasingly resistant strains of lice.

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