WHAT ARE SUPER LICE?
Not so super after all! “Super lice” are head lice that have developed resistance to the pesticides in traditional over-the-counter head lice treatment products. It is a term coined by the media in 2015 after published research showed head lice were developing resistance to the pesticides used in over-the-counter lice treatments.
WHAT IS THE LIFE CYCLE OF LICE?
Head lice live on your head as either lice eggs (nits) or hatched lice (the lice that crawl through your hair). Hatched lice can be either adult lice or 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 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. Head lice only live for about three weeks. An adult female louse will lay four to eight eggs each day. She attaches each egg with a cement-like material that does not wash out.
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.
Do I have to clean the whole house?
No. Head lice that fall off a person quickly starve and usually die within 15 hours (and most become incapable of feeding between 3-18 hours off a host). So head lice that fall on a desk, floor, or coat at school will not be alive the next day. Any eggs that may come off of a head will not survive.
Clothing, stuffed animals, theater seats, and other items are not threats to spreading head lice. Bathing every day will not prevent or wash away head lice. Cleaning the home or bagging toys and clothing won’t help you prevent or get rid of head lice.
That said, washing clothes or bedding of infested individuals is not a bad idea. When doing so, make sure to wash them in hot water at 130° F (54.4° C), then put them in the hot cycle of the dryer for at least 20 minutes.