Do Nits Still Hatch If They Fall Out of the Hair?

Do Nits Still Hatch If They Fall Out of the Hair?

Louse and nits cocoons on white paper background.

Approximately 6-12 million head lice infestations are reported annually in the United States. Most infestations occur in children aged three to eleven, primarily because of being in close quarters at school and children’s tendency to “share” things such as hats and brushes. That means, if you have kids, you will likely have a run-in with head lice at some point in time.

And while head lice are very small, they can create a very big problem for families if an infestation occurs. But like they say, knowledge is power. So, the more you know and understand about head lice, the easier it will be to stop an infestation in its tracks. This article will discuss the life cycle of head lice, what they need to survive, and what precautions to take after an infestation.

What Are Nits?

Nits are lice eggs. They are tiny, teardrop-shaped sacs that are white or yellowish. They often look like dandruff or hair product flakes. The difference is that a nit will stick to the hair shaft, and you will not be able to remove it easily, and you can easily remove dandruff or other flakes from the hair.

What is the Life Cycle of Head Lice?

An adult female head louse lays nits about a quarter of an inch from the base of the hair shaft. It takes about eight to nine days for a nit to hatch. After they hatch, the empty egg will remain on the hair follicle and grow out with the hair.

The louse that hatches from the nit is called a nymph. It looks like an adult louse, but it is much smaller. They mature into an adult about nine to twelve days after hatching.

A fully developed adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed, and females are larger than males. Their color can range from a grayish-white to a tan color. They must also feed on blood to survive. 

Life Span of Head Lice on the Human Head

As soon as they hatch, nymphs need food to survive, and they must feed multiple times a day. So they crawl from the strand of hair down to the scalp feeding off of their host’s blood. Fortunately, they can only live off of human blood, so it’s impossible to get lice from or give lice to your pets.

As long as they have a food source, an adult louse can live for up to thirty days. And while that may not seem like a significant amount of time, they continue to multiply during this time, and a female louse can lay up to eight eggs each day

Life Span of Head Lice Off of the Human Head

Depending on the temperature, adult head lice can live off of the human head for about one to four days, and nits can live for up to ten days. And although nits can live up to ten days off of their host, they will not hatch if they are at or below room temperature. 

Precautions You Should Take After an Infestation

Head lice can live on objects such as carpets, upholstered furniture, bedding, clothing, and stuffed animals. Although they can’t live long, there is a chance that they could transfer to another person before they die. To avoid further infestation, you can take certain precautions to prevent lice from crawling onto a new host.

  • Wash towels, clothing, and bed linens in water that is at least 130°F (54°C), and place them on the hottest cycle in your dryer for 20 minutes.
  • If you can’t wash something, have it dry-cleaned. If you can’t do that, place the items in a large sealed bag for at least 72 hours, at which point the lice will die.
  • Vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture thoroughly and carefully dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag.
  • Soak haircare products in rubbing alcohol or medicated shampoo, or wash them in very hot water (a dishwasher cycle will do the trick).

Get Lice Free with Licefreee!

It can be a very time-consuming process to get rid of head lice. The good news is that head lice don’t carry disease and are not a health hazard. But simple things like not sharing hairbrushes, hair accessories, bedding, or hats with others can help reduce the chance of contracting head lice.

Licefreee! has been in the business of helping families get rid of head lice for over 20 years. Our goal has always been to provide families with a safe and effective way to tackle head lice infestations. All of our products are non-toxic and use sodium chloride to kill head lice and nits, and are effective in treating “super lice” infestations where other traditional treatments fail.

Head over to our products page if you’re ready to solve your head lice problem with America’s best-selling, non-toxic lice treatment. 

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©2022 TecLabs
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, medical evidence not accepted. Not evaluated by the FDA.
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