What Are Lice, And Where Do They Come From?

what are lice

What Are Lice?

To put it simply, lice are parasites. There are various types of body lice, but we deal with head lice. Head lice are most common in children, especially as their social circles expand. Lice are primarily transmitted via head-to-head contact – think of kids laying down in a classroom for story time. Less than 5% of active cases are contracted through the sharing personal items like hats, scarves, and brushes.

Lice can be hard to see because they are very small – adult lice are roughly the size of a sesame seed. Keep an eye on your children and know the signs and symptoms of a lice infection.

How Do Lice Survive?

Lice feed on human blood, and can only live off the human body for up to 24-48 hours. When someone has head lice, generally you’ll find adult lice as well as nits (eggs) in the hair. One female louse can lay up to 10 eggs per day, and typically travel in harems of 8 females to one male. They attach to the shaft of the hair by a sticky substance that the female leaves behind. Nits can be extremely difficult to remove because of this substance, which is why you want a well-made metal comb to get rid of them.

The CDC estimates that there are 12 million cases of lice every year in the US for kids aged 3-11.

Where Do Lice Come From?

Honestly, no one really knows. Lice have been around for centuries, and have continued to spread. With people moving closer to each other, kids going to school together, and increased opportunities for social interaction, lice continue to survive. Because of the way their claws are constructed, lice can only move around on human hair to crawl and hang on. They cannot efficiently attach themselves to environmental surfaces or fabrics. Human head lice can only thrive on the human head.

How Do I Get Rid of Lice?

If your child comes home with lice, you’ll want to wash their hair and apply conditioner. Take a well-made comb and slowly pass it through their hair, from roots to end. Wipe the comb on a white paper towel after every pass. It’s the only way to successfully remove adult lice and the nits from hair.

Beware the popular lice removal products that are available, as many contain chemicals that we wouldn’t recommend you use on your children.