In order to treat head lice, you have to understand the head lice life cycle. Otherwise, if you miss a stage of the head lice life cycle during your treatment, you can become infected all over again. It takes about a month from a head louse hatching to the point where it lays its own eggs.
The start of the head lice life cycle begins with the female louse becoming fertilized by the male louse. She will then lay a number of eggs, known as nits. Nits can be found about 6 mm from the scalp, glued tightly to the hair shaft. At less than a millimeter in size, nits may appear like grains of sand attached to the hair. If you look closely, you will see that they are oval in shape and yellow to white in color. It takes about a week for the nits to hatch, starting the next part of the head lice life cycle.
The second stage of the head lice life cycle is the nymph stage. In appearance, the nymph looks similar to an adult louse, except that it is much smaller. To the human eye, it will look to be the size of a pinhead, and will be yellow to rust-colored. Like the nits, you will find nymphs along the scalp, particularly at the back of the neck and behind the ears. During the 10 days of the head lice life cycle that a head louse is a nymph, it will shed its outer exoskeleton. Each time it does so, it will becoming increasing larger and more mature, until at about 10 days of age it is considered an adult and able to lay its own eggs.
The last stage of the head lice life cycle is adulthood. Adult head lice will live approximately one month, provided that they stay with the host and are not killed off prematurely through lice treatments. Each day, the adult head lice will eat about five times, taking a blood meal from the hostís scalp. Similar to mosquitoes, adult lice will pierce the skin and inject saliva before sucking out the blood. The saliva is what causes the intense itching for some patients
Adult lice are not much bigger than a pinhead, and the female is larger than the male. They are active and travel quickly, and can be found close to scalp, especially at the neckline and behind the ears. They are oval in shape, with 3 pairs of legs with claws. They will appear rust-colored after a feeding.
Continuing the Head Lice life cycle
Once a female head louse has become an adult, she continues the head lice life cycle by laying her own eggs. Female head lice can lay up to 10 eggs a day and up to 300 in a lifetime.
Stopping the Head Lice life cycle
In order to stop the head lice life cycle, you have to make sure that your head lice treatment impacts all stages. Many over-the-counter remedies will only kill adult and larger nymph lice. Therefore, manual removal of nits, nymphs, and adults is required to put a permanent stop to the head lice life cycle.