where do lice come from

Where do lice come from?

Nooooooo!! Your head is itchy and the itch won’t go away. It doesn’t matter how much you scratch or wash, the itch is always present. You can’t sleep at night and you can’t focus during the day.


Microscopic view of a louse

Microscopic view of a louse

You keep your house clean. You keep your hair and body clean. Where did these lice come from. How is it possible that you, of all people, got lice?

As it turns out, lice do not need a dirty environment at all. A clean home and good hygiene won’t do a thing to keep lice away, but we will discuss that more later. First, let’s move away from the individual perspective and take a more historical look at how lice came to us modern humans.

Where do Lice Come From?  

Lice are one of many parasites that survive from the blood of their host. Head lice today can only survive on the head of a human with hair. There are also body lice and thousands of years ago these lice were probably the same before they adapted for different conditions. Body lice seem to have developed the ability to cling to clothing fibers while head lice are adapted for human hairs.  

Life Cycle of Lice

Head lice only live about 30 days. However, in those 30 days a female louse (singular of lice) can produce 50 to 150 eggs. Each egg is attached to a single hair at the base of the hair next to the scalp. The egg (or nit) needs the body heat from the scalp to survive. If the conditions are right, a new louse will hatch in 5 to 10 days.

where do lice come from?

Lice egg on hair shaft

The temperature range for these eggs to hatch is ideally between 95 and 100 degrees fahrenheit. Additionally, a head louse cannot survive for long away from a human scalp. As a parasite, head lice must have access to blood from their human host or they will quickly die off.

A Clean Environment with Lice?

Back to the question of how you can get lice even though you keep your home and body clean…cleanliness has nothing to do with it.

While it may be true that humans from thousands of years ago had lice and were dirty, the dirt did not cause or support the lice problem.

As mentioned in the section on the life cycle of lice, the important factors for the survival of a louse are temperature and blood. Neither of these factors are dependent on how clean your kitchen is or how regularly you wash your hair.

While a shower may wash a few adult lice down the drain, most will be able to cling to your hair and the eggs are essentially glued in place. Lice cannot live apart from their human host so a dirty kitchen or bathroom is not a factor at all.

Instead, head lice are transferred from human to human by contact. It is important to point out that your pets will not carry head lice. This parasite is very narrowly adapted for a human head.

Just as a mosquito bite does not imply poor hygiene or a messy home environment, having lice need not carry the stigma of being dirty. Hopefully, this knowledge is a relief, but you still have to deal with these tiny creatures!

Next steps – Call us!

The trick to completely getting rid of lice is to remove or kill the adult lice as well as the eggs. The trouble is that the eggs and lice are so small and the tiny eggs are essentially glued to the hairs.

There are some insecticides that kill adult lice. Although, this method is not always effective since most lice have adapted into super lice with a tolerance to the common family of insecticides. The next problem is that the insecticide does not kill the nits. A very fine comb has to be used to physically remove each egg otherwise there will be a new crop of lice in 5 to 10 days when the egg or eggs hatch.

Thankfully, the Lice Clinics of America have a system that kills both adult head lice and eggs.

Lice Clinic Interior

Clinic Interior

Using heat, your head lice problem can be taken care of completely in just 90 minutes. The procedure takes advantage of the narrow temperature range in which head lice survive and is so effective that clinics are opening all over.   

Lice spread through direct contact with other humans. Living an interconnect life is good for you and the world. If at some point you end up with lice, rest assured that there is a safe, effective method to get rid of them at the Lice Clinics of America.

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