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Q & A

Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about head lice.

What are head lice?

Head lice are small, wingless, greyish-white insects (they turn a darker grey after they have fed on blood) with flattened, elongated bodies with oval heads. A mature adult louse is about 2-3 mm and lives on the scalp.

Why are they such a problem?

Every civilisation in human history has tried to get rid of head lice. But they're still here. That's because head lice are very, very good at what they do - and because most over the counter treatments prove ineffective at removing an entire infestation (head lice, nits AND 'live' eggs) quickly and easily. And if you don't get rid of the 'live' unhatched eggs, you end up right back where you started. That's why the Nitty Gritty NitFree Comb really is such a huge breakthrough - because it's the only product to get rid of the 'live' unhatched eggs as well as the live head lice.

I have tried so many over the counter treatments. Why aren't they working?

We hear this over and over and over again. People who are at their wits end after spending a small fortune on countless unpleasant over the counter treatments, only to find they either don’t work at all, or they think they have worked only to find a brand new infestation a week later. The reason is, most over the counter treatments are designed to kill the live head lice, which after decades some lice are becoming completely immune to these treatments, and for the lice that they do still work on this method isn’t actually addressing the biggest problem, which is the unhatched ‘live’ eggs which are left behind, which is the main cause of repeated re-infestations. Out of pure desperation parents are subjecting their children to these unpleasant treatments only to find a week later they are right back where they started.

This is why we launched Nitty Gritty in the first place. We knew there had to be a better way! We too tried all these awful chemical treatments on our own children. Not only did we find it quite alarming when we looked at the ingredients we were putting directly onto our children’s heads but we found them completely ineffective at eradicating the problem. Now with Nitty Gritty parents have a safe and effective way to not only treat head lice but to keep them away for good!

 

Our Nitty Gritty Aromatherapy Solution, Nitty Gritty NitFree Comb and Nitty Gritty Conditioning Defence Spray has helped over 3 million families finally beat the bugs!

How does someone get head lice?

Head lice are very good at moving from one host to another during head-to-head contact. When your hair is touching someone else's, even for a few moments, there is an opportunity for head lice to migrate. This is why they are so prevalent amongst primary school children, as they tend to have lots of head-to-head contact. 

Where can head lice be found?

Head lice spend their entire 30-35 day lifespan in our hair, clinging tightly onto it as soon as they emerge from their eggs. They tend to stay very close to our scalps in order to feed directly from our blood. They often lay their eggs near the temples, behind the ears or at the crown or nape of the neck where it is nice and warm. 

What's the difference between eggs & nits?

Most people refer to all eggs, both live and hatched, as nits, this is technically incorrect. You have 'Live' head louse eggs, which are found very close to the scalp (within a few millimetres), each egg is glued to an individual hair strand as soon as they are laid, they are brownish in colour so can easily be camouflaged in the hair. Nits are the empty egg cases, which are a white or cream colour, they remain glued in place on the hair as it grows out after the lice have hatched. They are usually found slightly further away from the scalp. Nits are often the first visible sign of a head lice infestation. 

What do the eggs look like?

They are very small (about the size of a pin head) tiny teardrop shapes, that will be securely glued to the hair shaft. Before they hatch the 'live' egg will be a brownish colour, making them very difficult to spot in dark hair. Once they hatch the 'nit' which is the empty egg case is a white or cream colour. Nits are often mistaken for dandruff or flaky scalp, the easiest way to know if it is a nit is to try and slide it down the hair shaft between your fingers, if it won't move without using your nails then it is a nit.

Where are eggs found?

Female head lice attach each egg with a glue like substance to the root of an individual hair strand, very close to the scalp, so that when they hatch out, they are close to their food source. They like to lay their eggs near the temples, behind the ears and at the crown and nape of the neck. Any eggs found more than about 1/2” from the scalp will be the nits (the empty egg cases), which remain glued to the hair shaft and grow out as our hair grows.

How long do the eggs take to hatch?

Eggs take approximately one week to hatch but can take anything from 6-10 days.

How many eggs does a female head louse lay?

Once a female head louse has matured (which takes about 15 days from the egg being laid) she will remain pregnant and continue to lay up to 8 eggs per day for the remainder of their 30-35 day lifespan. When any infestation is left untreated each head louse can lay up to 150 eggs in their life cycle.

How many head lice are usually found on an infested person?

Once a female head louse has matured (which takes about 15 days from the egg being laid) it will continue to lay eggs throughout their full 30-35 day lifespan. When any infestation is left untreated each head louse can lay up to 150 eggs in their life cycle. Not everyone itches, and there is sometimes no visible sign of infestation until the nits (empty egg cases) grow out in the hair, so there can be hundreds of head lice on one person's head during a prolonged infestation. However, most infestations are picked up earlier on once the eggs begin to hatch, the average number of lice found on an infested person is around 30. 

How long do head lice live?

Head lice typically live for about 30-35 days. They can only survive for around 24 hours once removed from a human head, though. You can check out our Lice School page to read more about their life cycle.

How can you detect if someone has head lice?

Sometimes there is no sign of infestation until nits – the hatched empty egg cases - start to become visible as they grow out in the hair, often these little white specks in the hair are the first thing that parents notice. Once the lice have hatched they will start feeding on the scalp, which can cause itching, so if you see a child itching their scalp this is often a tell-tale sign that they have live lice in their hair. BUT it’s important to know… not everyone itches. So it’s important to carry out weekly checks for nits, eggs and head lice as part of your child's haircare routine. The best time to do this is when you are washing your child's hair, because in dry hair live lice will move rapidly away from the area being examined making it much more difficult to spot anything live. 

 

Detection will be easiest with a small amount of conditioner on the wet hair, as this will make it difficult for the lice to move around. Make sure to comb out all the tangles from the hair with a regular comb first and then moving section-by-section gently touching the Nitty Gritty NitFree Comb to the scalp glide the comb from the root down to the tip of the hair. After each stroke check the teeth of the comb for live lice or eggs. Fully grown head lice are about the size of a small ant, but newly hatched eggs can be as small as a pinhead. 

 

If you are inspecting on dry hair make sure you do so in good light - by a window or under a desk lamp is ideal. Look for eggs glued to the roots of the hair very close to the scalp. Nits are often mistaken for dandruff or flaky scalp, the easiest way to know if it is a nit is to try and slide it down the hair shaft between your fingers, if it won't move without using your nails then it is a nit.

 

Please note, if you are doing a visual inspection on dry hair do not use our comb on the dry hair, it will be completely ineffective at removing anything and may get stuck in the hair. The Nitty Gritty NitFree comb needs the lubrication of our oil based Aromatherapy Solution or regular hair conditioner to allow the teeth to glide through the hair.

Do I need to check everyone in the house?

Other than primary school aged children you do not need to routinely check all members of the household unless you have reason to suspect they have been in contact with someone with head lice. If you do find any signs of head lice, eggs or nits on your child we always recommend that you check every member of the household, as well as other close family members or anyone they come into regular contact with such as grandparents or childminder - Remember, not everyone itches when head lice are present. 

 

If you find signs of an infestation do not panic, using our Nitty Gritty NitFree Comb with either hair conditioner or our Nitty Gritty Aromatherapy Head Lice Solution is the easiest and most effective way to remove all head lice, nits and 'live' eggs from anyone who shows signs of being infested. 

How do I treat an infestation once detected?

Treating an infestation is quick and easy using our Nitty Gritty NitFree Comb with either your regular hair conditioner or our fantastic Nitty Gritty Aromatherapy Head Lice Solution. Unlike other over the counter treatments, our comb is the easiest and most effective way to remove all head lice, nits and 'live' eggs from anyone who shows signs of being infested. Watch our short video on our Facts of Lice page to see how easy it is to use and for full guidance on making sure you comb effectively to remove all signs of live lice and unhatched eggs.

 

Do remember... 

Head lice are annoying, but they are not dangerous. Don't ever let them make you or your children unhappy. With Nitty Gritty you have a safe and effective way to not only treat head lice but to keep them away for good, without any pain or drama!

 

Our Nitty Gritty Aromatherapy Solution, Nitty Gritty NitFree Comb and Nitty Gritty Conditioning Defence Spray has helped over 3 million families finally beat the bugs!

Should I notify my child's school?

If you haven’t already been notified by your child’s school about a head lice case in the class then we do recommend that you let them know that you have found and treated head lice on your child and ask them to notify all parents of that class so that they can check and treat their own children to put a stop to it spreading further. You can also direct them to the SCHOOLS tab on our website where they can download a PDF on how to check, treat and prevent head lice, which they can pass on to all parents in the school. You could also simply and quickly let other parents in your class know if you have a class WhatsApp group. The more we talk openly about head lice, the quicker we stop the spread. 

Do head lice prefer clean or dirty hair?

No, head lice have no preference for clean or dirty hair. They are tough, resourceful little creatures. You can't wash them out, and there is no scientific evidence to indicate that either washing or not washing the hair will do anything to prevent an infestation. It is the smell of human blood that the head lice are drawn to not the smell of clean or dirty hair.

Do head lice prefer girls or boys?

Head lice have absolutely no preference for boys or girls. But school-age girls do tend to have more hair than boys and more head-to-head contact, which makes it easy for the lice to spread from one head to another, this is why we often find they are more common amongst girls. They then tend to pass them onto their other family members when they have head-to-head contact.

Can head lice jump or fly?

No. They don't fly, jump, hop or skip. But they do move very swiftly from one human head to another during everyday head-to-head contact. 

Do head lice spread diseases?

No. Their presence can aggravate some existing scalp conditions, but they don't communicate or carry any diseases. 

Can head lice live on pets?

No. Head lice can only live on humans, moving directly from one person to another during head-to-head contact. 

Who is most likely to get head lice?

Anyone who has hair on their head is able to be a host to head lice. School-age children tend to spend time in large groups, with lots of head-to-head contact, so they are the most likely to become infested, but they then pass it onto the other members of their household. 

Do head lice bite?

Technically speaking head lice don't actually bite. They attach to the scalp and use needle-like feeding tubes to suck blood multiple times a day, this is what keeps them alive. Head lice can only survive 24-48 hours without feeding on a human scalp.

Why do you itch when you have head lice?

When head lice feed on a human scalp their saliva and faeces often cause an itching allergic reaction. Scratching can then lead to broken and inflamed skin, which can cause further discomfort. Not everyone gets this allergic reaction and has the itch, this is why it’s important to do regular checks on primary school age children and on all members of a household when a known infestation is detected on one member.

Do remember...

Head lice are annoying, but they are not dangerous. Don't ever let them make you or your children unhappy. With Nitty Gritty you have a safe and effective way to not only treat head lice but to keep them away for good, without any pain or drama!

 

Our Nitty Gritty Aromatherapy Solution, Nitty Gritty NitFree Comb and Nitty Gritty Conditioning Defence Spray has helped over 3 million families finally beat the bugs!

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