head lice life cycle chart

The Life Cycle of Head Lice and Why They Seem to Live Forever

How long do lice live? And why are they so hard to get rid of ourselves?  One would think they would just die off after a certain period of time but they just end up getting worse over time without an effective treatment plan.  

Brought to you by Lice Clinics of America, we examine the full life cycle of head lice.

Head lice can survive on a human head for approximately 30 days. Head lice live on your head as either lice eggs referred to as nits or hatched lice. Hatched lice can either be adult lice and nymphs (baby lice).

The adult louse is no bigger than a sesame seed and is grayish-white or tan. Nymphs are smaller and become adult lice roughly 10 days after they hatch.

lice egg stuck to hair

Lice egg on hair shaft

Lice feed on blood from your scalp several times a day. Although some lice have been observed living up to 2 days off the scalp, most lice die within 15 hours of coming off the head without their food source.

Head lice only live for about three to four weeks. An adult female louse will lay about three- five eggs each day. She attaches each egg with a cement-like material that does not wash out. These cemented in eggs are the reason most DIY treatments or home lice kits aren’t very effective.  You need to get ALL of these eggs out to fully end the cycle of lice. They are very small and easy to miss for non-professionals.  

The eggs do not grow, move or cause any health problems. Once fully developed, the nymph breaks out of the egg, crawls onto the hair and leaves behind the now-empty eggshell. The empty eggshell will never produce another louse, but it will remain glued to the hair until it is broken or cut off.

The nymph will grow in size and shed its skin every few days until it has matured to become an adult. Only adult females can lay eggs.

If you or someone you know is struggling with lice outbreaks, Lice Clinics of America offers the only FDA-cleared solution that is guaranteed.  We also offer insurance reimbursement for those with plans that qualify.  Give us a call to schedule an appointment with one of our friendly technicians today.