Although lice are essentially harmless in terms of spreading disease, they are pesky parasites that cause much frustration and are extremely contagious. They are tiny insects which develop in three stages – from nit (eggs) to nymph and finally to full-blown louse (Pediculus humanus capitis).
Lice love living on a host, whether it be humans or birds (avian) and mammals in general. It is important to rid living areas of these insects as they spread very easily amongst people when sharing things such as hair brushes, swimming caps and sheets. They are often found in hairy areas on the host such as the scalp or the fur of an animal. Lice typically need warmth and an area where they can feed on blood , which is why they are attracted to hairy areas such as the scalp where they can grasp the hairs and move quickly. Lice tend to lay their eggs (nits) on the hair shaft which is closest to the scalp, due to the fact that the eggs need the heat which is generated from the scalp in order to hatch.
Although we see lice as dirty pests, they are actually attracted to clean hair. Symptoms of lice are intense itching on the scalp, nits on the hair shaft, small red lesions at each new feeding site. Getting rid of lice quickly before the situation becomes worse is essential, as the intense scratching can lead to secondary infections such as hives, scalp scabs or enlarged neck nodes.