So You Want to Know How Long You've Had Lice?

hampton calculate head lice timeline calendar elapsed time

By Chelsea Lonergan 
April 20, 2020

It can be a surreal feeling: a stranger has shown up to your home (which is completely covered in dishes, laundry, and toys), and has begun combing through your loved one’s hair. Many parents are waiting anxiously for the news, almost like an old-time image of a young newlywed eagerly awaiting that day’s mail for a wartime update. “Do you see anything?” they might ask. Or, perhaps, “They keep scratching behind their ears, do you think there’s lice there?” And upon finding that fateful first nit, the mix of dread and relief seems to pour over the family members. Alas, their fears have been validated (they’re not crazy!) but oh no their fears have been validated. At this moment, the conversation takes a turn.

How Long Have I Had Lice?

hampton how long have we i has my family had head lice

One of the most common questions I receive as a LiceDoctors technician upon this initial identification of lice is some variation of “How long have I had lice?” Parents and family members will begin asking or commenting things such as, “They’ve only been itching for a day, so they probably just got it, right?” or “Oh my gosh, they played with their cousins last month so is that when the lice transmission happened?” or “They couldn’t have had lice that long if you’re only finding nits but no bugs, right!?”

In order to make sense of this infestation in one’s mind, it would just feel so much better to know the exact date and point of initial contagion—where was the epicenter of this licequake? To answer these questions in short:  it is unfortunately highly unlikely to know the exact point at which an individual had a single louse crawl onto his or her head to begin the cycle. Lice are unfortunately different from trees, so we cannot merely slice one down the middle and count the inner rings. However, there are some indicators which can help narrow down when the lice infestation may have roughly begun.

The Number of Lice and Nits is the Best Indicator

hampton nits eggs indicate how to tell how long i had lice

The best indicator is sheer number of nits and lice. Perhaps the least surprising is that as time moves forward, and as lice lay eggs, more bugs will appear on the head. Each louse lays 6 to eggs daily. The number of lice grows exponentially, as they are laying more eggs, which then hatch, develop, and lay even more eggs. And if you are unaware of their existence, and not treating them, they aren’t dying at a rate which would balance out their growth. Lice live for one month and can lay up to 200 eggs during that time. LiceDoctors - Mile of Severe Lice Infestation?

Count the Number of Lice Versus Nits

hampton count of nits eggs bugs to tell how long i had head lice

But even beyond this more obvious indicator, is the number of nits versus the number of live bugs. Due to the timing and nature of the louse life cycle, the more live bugs that are living on the head, the likelier it is that the case started longer ago. This is because as the nits hatch, more time must have passed for the nymphs that emerged to then develop and lay more eggs. A head with a a lot of nits relative to the number of lice likely indicates a newer infestation where there were at least one or two live bugs that laid those eggs. On the other hand, a head full of many live bugs indicates that those eggs have since hatched and developed and led to more egg laying.

Beyond these simple guidelines, there is no known way to ascertain when the hair lice first arrived. Generally, the more severe the infestation, the more live bugs (versus nits), the longer ago the infestation probably began. Keeping in mind that each bug can lay up to about 200 eggs makes it a little bit easier to estimate how long it may have been living in your hair. LiceDoctors- How Long Does It Take Lice Eggs to Hatch?

LiceDoctors Lice Treatment Service and Nit Removal Service to the Rescue

During lice treatments, LiceDoctors technicians are sure to show you what a nit and live louse look like, and can help answer any questions you may have. This includes helping to pinpoint the severity of the case, and perhaps how long ago the lice moved in. Talk about being a reluctant host...no one wants these parasites invading their space!

The best lice treatment is when your lice specialist quickly and accurately screens all family members and treats those, who are affected, in a thorough and effective manner using a pesticide-free protocol. There is no need to drag your kids out to a lice treatment center when a lice specialist from LiceDoctors will treat you right in your home. Lice treatment from LiceDoctors has a far superior treatment record compared to prescription lice treatment and over-the-counter lice shampoos. LiceDoctors has successfully treated over 500,000 clients no matter how long they had a lice infestation. LiceDoctors treatments are as effective in getting rid of lice in long hair as in short hair. The lice removal process is safe enough for infants and pregnant women; unlike lice medications, there are no side effects.

You can avoid the frustration that comes with attempting to kill lice at home on your own. There is no need to wait until you have a rash from lice bites when we offer a one day lice treatment at an affordable price. LiceDoctors cost of lice treatment is generally significantly less than a lice salon.

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