Lice Life Cycle

Lice Life Cycle – Overview of Development Stages

You may already be familiar with lice. These tiny insects are somewhat a part of our childhood memories. They spread quickly and can be bothersome if they end up on your head. They’re wingless parasitic insects that attach to human hair and consume scalp blood. The lice life cycle is the time from the moment the female begins to lay eggs to the moment they die.

A louse goes through three phases of development over a few weeks. They develop from eggs into nymphs, and then into adults. Lice are a prevalent issue, especially among kids, and they cause excruciating itch and irritation.

Keep reading the article if you want to learn more about the lice life cycle.

What Are Lice?

They are small, wingless insects, and an interesting thing is that they require a human host to survive. You cannot get this species from any other form of a pet because it can only live on human hosts. 

Other than being inconvenient and bothersome, head lice may cause the back of the neck and head to itch. However, while trying to remove them, you might only be able to see head lice’s eggs, also referred to as “nits,” which are tiny, uniformly-sized whitish ovals clinging to the hair shaft.

Knowing the lice life cycle may help you more easily overcome this issue and get rid of these parasites.

Stages of Lice Life Cycle 

The lice life cycle starts developing at the egg stage. Their eggs are also known as nits, which stick to the roots of particular hairs. The lice life cycle isn’t too long and only lasts about 45 days. However, the eggs hatch in seven to ten days on average, and new lice mature in two weeks.

Adult females can lay up to 150 eggs and have a lifespan of up to 35 days. Head lice need to be treated right away because they mature so quickly and may also spread to others.

Here are the main stages of the lice life cycle:

  •  After 6 to 7 days the louse emerges.
  • Two days after hatching the first molt occurs.
  • 5 days after hatching it’s time for the second molt.
  • After 10 days the third molt takes place.
  • After the series of molts, they start to reproduce
  • The female lays her first eggs.
  • The louse dies, having lived for 32–35 days.

Egg Stage

The egg stage is the initial stage of the lice life cycle. Head lice eggs, or nits, hatch around a week after being laid, since the incubation period lasts approximately a week, from 6 to 9 days. When lice eggs hatch, a nymph is produced. Nits are tiny eggs that have an oval or teardrop shape and range in size from 0.8 to 0.3 millimeters (mm). They could be difficult to see because their hue might range from white to yellow to tan to brown.

When alive, eggs have a darker appearance and crack under the nails. Hatched eggs, however, appear pale to practically translucent. When lice treatments have killed the eggs, their sides seem withered. To maintain the proper temperature for hatching, a female adult attaches each egg to a different hair shaft at a distance of around 6 mm from the scalp. 

Nymph Stage

The next stage of the lice life cycle is the nymph stage. After three successive molts, the adult stage starts after around seven days. Nits hatch in 6 to 9 days. For incubation, they require the warmth of the scalp, but if they are separated from the hair, they will probably die before hatching.

They resemble tiny adult lice and are between 1.1 and 1.3 mm in size. They scurry to the scalp every day to feed on blood. Before reaching the adult stage, nymphs molt, or shed, their skin three times. The whole procedure can take up to 10 days.

Adult Stage

The adult stage is the last step of the lice life cycle. The lifespan of lice can be as long as 30-35 days. Head lice have a lifespan of about one month after they are adults, but as was already noted, they can only live this long if they are on a human head. When they stay out of the human head, they can’t eat and survive.

The adult louse, which can range in hue from tan to grayish-white to brown, is developed after the third molt. They are around the size of a sesame seed, measuring 2 to 3 mm. Females are bigger than males, so it might be easier to spot them.

Lice can start multiplying when they are adults. Females begin to lay eggs one to two days after mating. They can lay up to eight nits every day and will keep producing eggs till the end of their lives. A female needs only to mate once to start generating eggs, since she may keep sperm in her body after mating.

Diet of Lice

As mentioned above, lice cannot spread among pets like dogs and cats since they can only feed on human hosts. They can survive up to 30 days on a person’s head, but they require blood meals multiple times every day to stay alive. 

However, a louse can only survive for up to two days without the host before dying from starvation and an inhospitable environment.

How Do Lice Spread?

The lice life cycle is not very complex. However, even though lice can’t jump or fly, they spread very fast. How does it happen? 

Since they can only crawl from one person to another, head-to-head contact is the most common way they spread. That’s why it’s mostly spread among kids. Playtime at schools, homes, parties, and playgrounds frequently involves this relationship. Using a recently used pillow while lying on the bed, couch, or carpet can also help lice spread.

Symptoms of Having Head Lice

Many persons with head lice don’t even exhibit any symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children between the ages of 3 and 11 experience 6 to 12 million infestations per year in the US. 

However, if additional people are displaying the following signs, it might be head lice:

  • Frequently scratching your head or scalp 
  • Irritation, redness, or lumps or sores on the scalp
  • Small white dots on your hair

How Should You Treat Lice?

It is essential to treat lice as soon as possible to avoid an infestation and stop the spread of lice. A doctor’s suggestion for treatment will only be given to people who have been told they have an active infestation.

You need to get rid of itchiness and other discomforts as soon as possible because they can be annoying and can cause secondary infections. The following steps can be taken to treat lice, which is not an easy task:

  • Items of apparel shouldn’t be shared; instead, only ever share them with the child utilizing a certain comb or brush.
  • Never lend your combs or brushes to others, and always keep your stuff, that may be the source of spreading these little parasites.
  • Avoid close personal or hair-to-hair contact while engaging in activities at school, on playgrounds, or anywhere else.
  • Store filthy clothing in a sealed plastic bag for two weeks to starve the lice and make sure you get rid of them. soaking a brush or comb in hot water for at least five minutes.

A bedmate who has lice must also be treated if they have them. Before applying any medication to a child’s hair who is younger than 2 years old and has allergies, it is important to speak with a doctor. Creams and medicated shampoos are among the treatments.

Interesting Facts About Lice Life Cycle

  • Even mummies have been discovered with head lice evidence, proving that head lice have existed since prehistoric times.
  • Direct head-to-head contact with an infected person is the most prevalent way to contract lice; 
  • Super lice, a new strain of lice, now account for 98% of all infestations today.
  • The idea that lice only infect persons who have poor hygiene is untrue. Everyone is susceptible since lice prefer clean hair.
  • You cannot get rid of head lice by shaving your head. If the nymphs (baby lice) are not adequately removed, they might embed in the scalp and still mature into adult lice.
  • Since lice have a two-hour breath retention capacity, shampooing your hair won’t drown them.

Final Words

Hopefully, you are now more informed about the three stages of the lice life cycle. They start as nits, develop into nymphs, and reach adult size in just a few weeks. Unfortunately, they are difficult to remove from the hanuman skull and spread quickly.

Even if a lice infestation is not dangerous, it can cause severe itching and pain, which can lead to secondary infections. If the lice eggs are not effectively killed during the initial treatment, you may face recurrent infestations. If this occurs, you must seek out safe medications to assist you to get rid of them and take all necessary precautions to prevent them.