When dealing with a case of head lice, you likely wonder, what do lice feed on? Unlike body lice, the head louse will never intentionally leave the hair, so they must be eating something there. While they quickly starve to death if they fall off a person, they will never go hungry as long as they are on a person's head. When they're comfortably infesting a human scalp, head lice have an all-they-can-eat buffet, so lice won't go away on its own without effective lice treatment.
What Do Lice Eat on Your Head?
Do Head Lice Eat Your Scalp?
Head lice infest the hair, and eat their meals on the human head, so it would be a reasonable assumption that head lice may consume the scalp. Do head lice bite the scalp to consume the skin? Head lice do not eat your scalp skin. What do lice eat, then?
Do Head Lice Eat Dandruff?
While this issue is more common with the hormonal changes of puberty and adulthood, skin allergies or poor hygiene can cause flakes in a child's hair. Adult lice don't snack on flakes of dead skin. But head lice can be challenging to differentiate from dandruff when parents don't know what the eggs look like or that they're glued to the hair shaft.
Do Head Lice Eat Hair?
Bald people can't get lice, so how often do head lice feed on the hair of the infested person? Adult lice require hair because that is where the adult female louse lays eggs, and the adult louse will hold onto the hair with its hook like claws. But they don't actually eat hair.
Do Head Lice Eat Blood?
Do lice suck blood? The human head is pretty simple, so if lice do not eat the scalp, and they do not eat hair, what else is there for them to eat? Do head lice feed on blood? Yes! As unpleasant as it is to think about, head lice rely on the blood that they get from the human head as their sole source of food.
As soon as a louse crawls onto your head, it affixes itself to a strand of hair with its claws and climbs all the way up to the base of the strand of hair to the scalp. Once there it looks for a blood vessel and then pierces the skin to get blood. Adult lice will take in more blood than baby lice.
How Do Head Lice Feed?
Using its mouth, the louse sucks the blood, adding saliva to the puncture to prevent the blood from coagulating while the louse is having its meal. The louse takes in the blood through two small pumps in its head. Because the bug is translucent, you can see a thin path of blood being taken in through the mouth and into the stomach. This is why sometimes lice appear darker than at other times. The darker a louse is, the more recently it had its last meal.
Can You Feel When Head Lice Feed?
Even an adult head louse has very tiny mouth parts, so most people don't feel them pierce the skin when they bite. The continuous irritation from the leftover saliva in the bites, plus the crawling of the lice through the hair, is what most people feel that causes itching. Some people never do get itching from lice bites, so best to check the whole family for eggs with a fine tooth comb, regardless of symptoms.
Can Lice Feed On Different Blood Types?
Lice can and do consume of all different human blood types. Lice are not picky eaters. They can survive on all of the different human blood types – positive, negative, a, b, o - they do not care and will not turn down a meal from any human host. While lice can and do consume of all different human blood types, the kind of lice that infests a human head will only survive on human blood. Human head lice is species specific – this means that the type of head lice that you and I can get will not infect any other species. There are different types of lice that infect animals, like dogs and cats. Animal lice do not infect humans.
How Often Do Head Lice Feed?
A head louse needs to have a blood meal multiple times in a day to survive. The average louse feeds between three and six times daily. Most of the feedings occur at night. Since they are tiny, each feeding results in very little blood loss. Even their biggest meal wouldn't even total one thousandth of a milliliter of blood. Such tiny meals make you wonder, how long do head lice live without eating?
How Long Can Lice Live Without Blood?
So how long can lice live without feeding? Because they are in continual need of food, they do not often venture off of a person's head unless there is another human head close by and readily accessible. This is why you will rarely find lice on a couch, bed, toy, pillow, backpack, or other inanimate objects. It is also why pre-school children get head lice more often, because of the direct contact nature of their play. Head lice need the warmth and food supply that only the human head can provide to survive, so away from the head, without blood to eat, how long can lice go without eating? Head lice can only survive up to twenty four hours, or one day off of the human head.
How Often Do Head Lice Feed?
In summary, the head louse only feeds on human blood. They need to bite an average of 5 times a day, which you won't feel until later, when allergic reaction to their saliva begins to cause an itchy rash on the skin. Head lice infestation only really affects the human head, unlike body lice and other types of infestations.
Reliable treatment is only a phone call away. Call LiceDoctors at 800-224-2537 to book an appointment, and an experienced lice technician will visit your home to eliminate the infestation in your family. Head lice have become resistant to chemical lice treatments so don't get discouraged if you have tried a lice shampoo or medication or do-it-yourself home treatments with no success. LiceDoctors physically removes the lice and lice eggs from the hair so that there is no risk of a return infestation from this case.