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How To Calculate How Long You Have Had Lice

How To Calculate How Long You Have Had Lice
Created on 
June 1, 2022
Updated on 
May 31, 2022

Want to know how to calculate how long you have had lice? If your child has been exposed to lice and you’re wondering how long it will take until you know if you have lice, LiceDoctors can help.

Why It Is Important To Know How Long You Have Had Lice?

The treatment for a long term lice infestation and a new infestation are the same. However, you may find it beneficial to know how long you’ve had lice so you can narrow down where you were exposed, and others who may have been in contact with you after you contracted lice. This will allow you to let that person/persons know so that they can get treated.

How To Determine How Long You Have Had Lice?

To accurately determine the length of time you’ve had lice, the best way is to estimate, during treatment, how many eggs and live bugs are present. In addition to this, try to remember when your symptoms first started. In most cases, you will start to see symptoms after head to head contact with an lice infested person. This will help you begin to establish a timeline. If there are multiple adult lice vs a single adult louse, you have had the case longer, likely for several weeks.

Symptoms of Having Lice

lice life cycle

The symptoms of head lice infestations vary from person to person. Some individuals are sensitive on their scalp, and some will experience more of a reaction to the bug bites. In contrast, others could have a severe infestation and not know they have lice. The symptoms of head lice include intense itching, crawling sensation, bites on the head and neck, sleep disturbances, and irritability.

The Lice Exposure Timeline

It can be difficult to determine whom you child got lice from, where they got it, and how long your child has had a case of head lice. It is most likely that you got lice as a result of head to head contact with an infested person. By gaining an understanding of the general life cycle of lice, and comparing it to how many bugs and nits you find on your child during treatment, you may be able to narrow down the time period in which your child was exposed. The infestation timeline is as follows:

  • Pregnant female adult lice or female and male lice attach to the hair. The males and females mate.
  • Eggs are laid on the strands of hair (6-10 a day).
  • New eggs hatch after a week (42-70 new bugs over the course of a week).
  • After a week, the hatched nymphs, now adult lice, begin to lay their own eggs.
  • Lice live for about 30 days, having the ability as an adult louse to reproduce after a week which yields 100-200 eggs in its lifetime!

If you find only a few nits, then your case is very new. If you see hundreds of nits and bugs, you may have been spreading head lice infestations for weeks or even months.

How Long Does It Take Nits To Appear?

If your child has been lice-free up until this point, it is important to keep a close eye and check his or her head regularly for signs of a lice infestation. If just one mature female louse has made it onto your child’s head, it is enough to start an infestation on its own. Since the bug is mobile and will run from the light as you check your child’s head, chances are you will never see the bug. What you will want to look for is the eggs.  If you do find eggs on your child’s head remove them. You will probably be able to see those eggs about 3-5 days after they are laid, or after initial contact with a louse, as they grow large enough to be visible adult lice. Check out our blog “How to Check For Lice Eggs (Nits)” to see what you should be looking for. If you find eggs, then congratulations, you have successfully found the case of head lice very quickly which will make this case of head lice much easier to treat! Again - when you find eggs on your child’s head remove them immediately.

How Long Does It Take Lice To Show Up? 

head lice infestations

You will not find a live bug on your child’s head immediately after infestation in the majority of cases, especially if it is just one bug. Some individuals are very sensitive to everything going on on their head, so in the case of someone who is especially sensitive, you might set out on a more extensive search and find a bug much earlier. However, this is extremely rare, especially to a head lice newbie. In many cases, people do not feel any itching or have any other obvious signs of head lice in the beginning. Often, bugs are not discovered until an infestation has reached the moderate to severe levels. So, if you have an infestation and are able to find visible adult lice and several nits on your child’s head remove them; this means the case of head lice has likely been present for quite some time...a month or more in many cases. Also noteworthy, is the fact that in some cases, a single louse may have simply taken a vacation on your child’s head before returning to the original host or moving on to another stop on its excursion. If that louse was present on your child’s head long enough to just lay 2 eggs, an infestation will follow unless it is detected early.

So What Should You Do?

male lice

If you’ve been notified by someone that your child has had contact with someone who has head lice, your first inclination may be to run to the store to buy a lice treatment kit. This is not necessary, especially if you have not confirmed that your child does, in fact, have a case of head lice. If there are no bugs or nits present, then the treatments will do nothing but expose your child needlessly to pesticides that will not be effective and may bring along side effects. Even if there are nits present in the hair, the chemical lice treatments will do nothing to address these nits as chemical lice treatments are unable to get through the tough outer shell of the nit to kill the baby bug within.

The best thing to do is to check your child’s head immediately and thoroughly to look for any signs of head lice, particularly the presence of nits. Make sure you have good lighting, outdoors is a great idea, and some form of magnification. Carefully look through your child’s hair focusing on the back of the head towards the nape of the neck and behind the ears, scanning for any lice eggs that may be present. Continue to check your child’s head regularly every few days to ensure you catch any signs of lice as soon as possible. If you do, in fact, find lice, LiceDoctors can save you time and money no matter how long the case has been there.

LiceDoctors Can Eradicate a Case at Any Stage of Infestation

LiceDoctors technicians are experienced in the detection and eradication of head lice, and can get rid of a case of head lice in the earliest of stages at any point point in the lice life cycle, whether you have immature or adult lice or both. If you’ve identified a case of head lice and would like help getting rid of it, or if you are not confident in your ability to detect a case of head lice and need some assistance, contact us at 800-224-2537. We are available morning, afternoon and evening and ready to help!

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