Head lice are small white, grey or brown insects that live in human hair and are particularly common in children of school age. They are notorious amongst parents as they can spread quickly between children through head-to-head contact, they do not fly, swim or jump and can only be transferred by touching hair with someone who already has head lice.
Head lice are not a result of poor hygiene or dirty hair. They actually prefer clean hair as it is easier to move through, although they will infect any type or length of hair. Head lice can normally be found at the root of the hair and grow roughly to the size of a sesame seed.
Life Cycle of Head Lice
Female head lice lay eggs (nits) at the root of hair by cementing them to the scalp. The eggs can be difficult to spot at they are extremely small.
Head lice eggs hatch after 7 – 10 days releasing the baby head lice, which then feed on the scalp and grow to full size in around 10 days. They leave the white empty eggs (now known as nits) attached to the hair that grow out with the hair and become more noticeable.
Female head lice can start laying eggs from 9 days old so they need to be removed from the scalp before this point to break the infection cycle.