Head lice are small parasitic insects that live on the human head. They vary in colour from a white-brown to a red-brown and have six clawed legs. Head lice are not winged and cannot fly.
Head lice eggs, also known as nits, are white ovals, and the size of a pinhead (0.5-1mm in length). They are firmly attached to the hair shaft and cannot be removed by brushing. They are yellowish or white when laid but can turn brown as they mature. Once the egg hatches it turns white or clear but remains fixed to the hair shaft.
Anyone of any age can get head lice but it’s generally more prevalent in school age children. Interestingly, nearly 60% of mums surveyed reported that they or their partner had had head lice so it’s a good idea to treat the entire family if an outbreak occurs.
Pets, however, cannot get human head lice, as they live only on the human head, so no treatment is required for the furrier members of your household.
The most common symptoms of head lice are an itchy head and a crawling or tickling sensation. If your child presents any of these symptoms a thorough head check is in order. Be aware that not everyone presents these symptoms. A regular head check during back to school season is recommended to nip any infestations in the bud.
Head lice are parasitic by nature and rely solely on humans for their existence. They lay their eggs (nits) on the hair shaft around 1.5cm from the scalp. Each louse can live for approximately five weeks, but during that lifetime a female can lay up to 120 eggs. The head lice life cycle lasts 38 – 45 days, from egg to death. The life cycle of head lice begins with eggs being laid, hatching, maturation into adults, mating and egg laying after which the parent head lice die. These eggs will hatch in six to ten days continuing the life cycle until the infestation is treated and the cycle is broken. The typical louse dehydrates and dies anywhere between 6 and 24 hours when away from the scalp.
The key to treatment and eradication of a head lice infestation is to break their life cycle. A lot of the frustration parents experience stems from their belief that current treatments don’t seem to work. There are several possible reasons for this. Head lice resistance may be one cause. Another reason for recurring infestation can be attributed to not fully completing a treatment cycle, and therefore not breaking the lifecycle of the head lice. It is difficult to kill all the eggs present when the infestation is first treated.
This is why more than one treatment is necessary. The MOOV Head Lice range utilizes a three treatment model, in which treatments are administered on day 0, day 7, and day 14.
The MOOV Head Lice Range of products is the result of many years of Australian research into this growing social problem.
To effectively treat head lice, three treatments over 14 days are required to break the head lice life cycle.
Due to the nature of the head lice’s life cycle, it takes three treatments to ensure all lice on the head are effectively targeted. The second and third treatments ensure that any eggs or nits that had not hatched before the first treatment, or those that survived are destroyed.
Contrary to popular belief, head lice do not spread by jumping from head to head, in fact head lice are unable to hop, jump, or fly at all – they are transmitted by close personal contact or by sharing caps and hats, brushes and combs.
The archetypical itchy scalp is caused by the irritating saliva produced by head lice.
Telling others that your child has head lice doesn’t need to feel embarrassing, head lice is very common in school-age children and affects 50% of Australians in their lifetime*. To help prevent re-infestation and further spread of lice, it’s best to alert the school, as well as parents of your child’s friends and playmates.
This will depend on your school’s head lice policy, however in general, no, your child will not need to miss school. Ensure your child wears their hair in a protective style such as a bun, and does not share hats, brushes, or touch heads with other children while the infestation is present. We also recommend using the MOOV Defence Spray to help prevent infestation if head lice are about.
No. Shaving your child’s head is not necessary to effectively remove the infestation. So long as you follow the instructions diligently the MOOV treatment option you select will successfully kill head lice and eggs.
No, head lice is not a sign of poor hygiene. Head lice don’t discriminate and don’t care if hair was washed this morning or last week.
Though nits may look like dandruff at first glance you can tell the difference by simply brushing through the hair; dandruff will move freely whereas empty eggshells are firmly attached to the hair.
Lice need regular blood meals to survive and are very good at staying attached to the hair. Lice can only survive for 24 hours without a host. If a louse is found on the floor or attached to furniture it will be dead or dying and not an infestation risk.
Start by picking the right treatment type. MOOV offers three different types of treatment so you should be able to find a product that works for your whole family. Be sure to follow ALL the instructions on the pack. Head Lice can be very frustrating, but this frustration can be compounded if the instructions aren’t followed carefully.
If you have a head lice infestation in the house it’s best to do a thorough check of all family members and treat as needed. It is also advised to contact the parents of friends whom your child has had close contact with so they can get on top of any infestation they may have caught.
*A Study Head Lice Treatments, June 2011. Study conducted by TNS Consultants. Sponsored by Ego Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd. (data held on file)