How Long Do Head Lice Last? An Expert Guide

7 min read

How Long Do Head Lice Last? An Expert Guide

Head Lice

If you’ve ever had head lice, then your first question (after where the heck you got them from) is probably “How long do head lice last?” Our head lice experts are here to provide an answer with our latest article as an expert guide to the question, how long do head lice last?

Head lice are tiny insects that live on human heads. They are only spread through direct head-to-head contact with an individual already infected. Even though head lice mostly occur among children, adults can get head lice as well. It is a nuisance to deal with, but it is not damaging to your health. 

The only way head lice can cause serious symptoms is if it is left untreated. When it is thoroughly treated, head lice is a temporary irritation with no long-term effects. In this blog, we’ll discuss how to know if you have a head lice infestation, how long head lice can live, and why you should begin a treatment plan right away.

What Are the Signs of Head Lice?

To start treating a head lice infection, you need to know what are the signs of head lice to recognize if you have them. Unfortunately, most people with a head lice infestation aren’t aware they have it until several weeks. This is because at first, the infestation is light and won’t cause many symptoms. As more head lice are reproduced, the infestation will worsen and the symptoms will begin. It may take 4-6 weeks for an itching sensation to occur after exposure. 

If you notice you are scratching your head more than usual or you feel a crawling sensation on your scalp, ask someone to look through your hair for head lice. Some people may not know what to look for, though. Here are some helpful tips to look through someone’s hair for head lice:

  • Look for live lice. Look for adult lice and baby lice (nymphs). Adult lice are about the size of a sesame seed and grayish-tan in color. Nymphs are a little bit smaller than adult lice since they are still growing. 
  • Look for eggs. Head lice eggs (nits) can be difficult to see and can be easily confused with dandruff. Nits can be found near the base of the hair shaft. To tell the difference between nits and dandruff, try to flick the speck off the hair. If it does not move, it is likely a nit. If it moves easily, it is more likely to be dandruff.  

Have someone check the back of your scalp, around your ears, and at the base of your neck as these are common places where head lice and nits are found.

How Long Do Head Lice Live?

Head lice survive by feeding on the blood in a human scalp. This feeding along with crawling is what causes the main symptom of head lice: an itchy scalp. Without a human host, head lice will not survive more than a week.

However, as long as they remain on a person’s head, head lice will live for up to 30 days. This does not mean that a person with an infestation can wait 30 days for all the lice to die. While head lice are on a human scalp, they mate and lay eggs in the hair. Females can lay up to 8 eggs per day. These eggs hatch after about 8-9 days and the cycle continues, creating a larger infestation. This cycle will keep going and head lice will remain on the scalp until treated. With effective treatment, all head lice and symptoms should be gone after about 2-3 weeks.

How Are Head Lice Treated? 

As stated, head lice will not go away on their own. Even though going through the process of treating an infestation can be an annoyance, the infestation shouldn’t be ignored. You may have heard about at-home lice treatments with household items such as mayonnaise and petroleum jelly, but these treatments are not scientifically proven to work. 

You want an effective head lice treatment as soon as possible to avoid a severe infestation which will be harder to get rid of. Below are head lice treatment options you may have more success with.

Using Lice Shampoos and Lotions Treat Head Lice

It is common for someone with head lice to first try a lice shampoo or lotion kit. These over-the-counter kits contain specific directions, so be sure to follow the directions closely when applying the treatment. These kits will usually include a special combing brush to pick out the nits and adult lice. 

You will need someone to help you do this since it is challenging to see head lice on your own head. If the shampoo or lotion does not come with a nit comb, you should purchase one separately and have someone use it to pick through your hair after applying the treatment. This will increase the chances of eliminating all head lice.

Professional Dehydration Technique for Treating Head Lice

The most popular, quickest, and most effective head lice treatment plan is one that uses a heated air treatment. Head lice live best in humid environments and have high water content. The heated air device uses heated warm air to dry out and kill head lice. Professionals are trained on how to most effectively use the device to eliminate all head lice in 30 minutes. 

Visit a lice clinic near you to learn more about their AirAlle treatment plan. If you are near Greenville, Anderson, or Spartanburg then visit one of our Lice Clinics!

Using Oral and Topical Prescription Drugs for Lice

There are also oral and topical prescription drugs that can be used in some cases. Tablets taken by mouth to treat head lice are highly effective but are usually only used when other treatment plans haven’t worked. These can be prescribed by a dermatologist for severe head lice cases. A healthcare provider can prescribe you topical prescription drugs that can be applied and rubbed onto the hair and scalp to kill lice. 

So, How Long Do Head Lice Last? That Depends on How You Treat it!

The answer to the question ‘How long do head lice last’ largely depends on how quickly you can identify it and treat it. If the head lice go undetected they can spread and get worse in a short period of time. Even if they are detected but you use home treatments that are not scientifically proven (and usually gross) then you will likely suffer from the bugs for much longer.

If you want to get rid of your head lice as soon as possible you need to seek effective medical treatment, this is the best way to shorten the length of your head lice infestation. There are specific lice treatments for every type of hair, and a lice removal professional will help you get the right one.

Guaranteed Relief With The Lice Clinics

At The Lice Clinics, we understand the importance of removing all head lice as soon as possible. A head lice infestation will only become worse each day, so effectively treating infestations is our primary goal. 

We offer several different head lice treatment options. You can read the description of each option on our website to pick the best one for your situation. We have clinics conveniently located in Greenville, Anderson, or Spartanburg

Contact our lice treatment team today to put an end to head lice and return to normalcy. 

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