Head Lice Nits. Parents can be confused when it come to head lice. First of all they want to know the difference between head lice and hair nits. Secondly they want to know how long their child has had a lice infestation, and thirdly they want to understand the facts of head lice incubation.
Head Lice Nits. Let’s start with defining hair nits. Lice lay nits, (otherwise called eggs) on the hair shaft extremely close to the scalp. The nits need to be this close to the scalp in order to be the correct temperature to be able to mature and hatch. Lice don’t lay nits directly on the scalp and this is important to remember because many parents think that head lice burrow into the scalp. This is false. Although lice need to be close to the scalp to survive, they are not a burrowing insect. If a hair falls off a head with a nit on it, that nit is very unlikely to ever hatch, since it will be too cold off the head.
Head Lice Nits. Next we will discuss how long your child has had head lice. It is likely that your child has had head lice for at least 1-2 months by the time you discover it. The reason for this is that head lice diagnosis is extremely difficult. Parents experience difficulty seeing the lice and head lice camouflage themselves and the nits well in the human hair. In addition head lice symptoms of any kind are extremely rare. Itching in particular is actually very unusual in cases of head lice.
Head lice incubation works like this. Laid nits incubate for 7 days until hatching. Newborn lice, known as nymphs, must mature further before they have any chance of reproducing. The nymphs molt over a period of 10 days. At 18 days the female louse is mature and can mate and begin laying eggs. Each female louse lays a total of 100 eggs in her lifetime. That factors out to 6 eggs a day. By the time her life is over the first nits she laid are now nymphs and and molting and ready to mate and lay more eggs. As the next generation of lice go forth to populate new scalps thereby creating new satellite lice colonies.
And, just for the record, please don’t get head lice confused with sea-lice. Sea lice are tiny jellyfish larvae that plague bathers at eastern seaboard beaches in late summer.