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What are Lice & Super Lice?

Head Lice (pediculus humanus capitis) is one of the most common human parasitic infestations worldwide. In the United States, an estimated 6-12 million people are treated for head lice each year, and studies have shown that it’s most common among preschool and school-aged children.1

Head lice can infest anyone’s hair, regardless of gender, nationality, race, or hygiene. Even the cleanest classrooms and tidiest households can be invaded by this common nuisance. Lice can’t fly or jump. The most common way they spread is through direct head-to-head contact with an infested person.

Super lice are lice that have developed a genetic resistance to certain pesticide-based ingredients that have been used in traditional over-the-counter (OTC) lice treatments for decades, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).2 Making matters worse, recent reports have led parents to believe that all OTC products are ineffective against super lice. The fact is there are OTC products that are proven as an effective option for eliminating super lice.

Notes:
  1. CDC

  2. American Academy of Pediatrics (2016) Report on lice retrieved from https://www.aappublications.org/news/2016/04/11/Lice041116

LIFE CYCLE OF
HEAD LICE

Eggs
(Nits)
Day 0
Mature adult female lays eggs (or nits). At first glance, head lice eggs (or nits) might be mistaken for dandruff. But they are firmly attached to the hair shaft.
Nymphs
Days 8-17
A nymph is an immature louse that hatches from the nit. It moults 3 times before becoming a mature adult. To prevent an infestation you want to kill the nymphs before they become adults.
Adult
Louse
Days
Adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed, has six legs, is tan to grayish-white in color and feeds on blood. Adult female lice are usually larger than males.
Female
Lays Eggs
Days 19-32
A female louse can lay up to 10 eggs daily; they prefer to lay their eggs 1/4” from the scalp.
Louse
Dies
Days 32-35
An adult louse will die after 32-35 days.

Eggs (Nits)

  • The eggs (nits) of head lice are usually the most visible sign of an infestation.
  • The adult female louse attaches each egg to the base of a single human hair shaft with a water proof glue-like substance.
  • Live nits are usually brown in color and are very well camouflaged in hair. Once nits hatch, a white shell remains, which may be easier to spot.
  • This parasite prefers a dark, warm environment and is often discovered behind the ears, under a ponytail and at the nape of the neck.

Nymph

  • A nymph is an immature louse that hatches from the nit. It takes about 9–12 days after hatching from the nit for nymph to mature into an adult.
  • To prevent an infestation you want to kill the nymphs before they become adults.

Adult Louse

  • The fully grown and developed adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed, has six legs, and is tan to grayish-white in color.
  • The lice themselves are incredibly difficult to spot with the naked eye.
  • To live, a louse needs to feed on blood from the human scalp several times a day. Lice die within 1-2 days without a host or food source.
  • A female louse can lay up to 10 eggs daily; they prefer to lay their eggs 1/4” from the scalp.
Vamousse Effectively Kills at Every Stage of the Head Lice Life Cycle
Notes:
  1. Full study data is available on files.

Check For Lice
Choose a Lice Treatment
Defend Against and Prevent Lice
  • 1.
    Under a bright light, part your child’s hair and watch for movement as lice will quickly travel away from the light. Using a nit comb, start at the scalp and work your way to the end of your child’s hair. It may help to drape a cloth or towel across your child’s shoulders. This will catch any lice that may fall off while searching.
  • 2.
    Examine the comb after each stroke. Adult lice (including super lice) are light brown and their bodies will be about the size of a sesame seed. Nits may be brown, yellow, or white. Also look for eggs stuck to the hair shaft near the scalp which is about the size of a poppy seed. They often look like dandruff that can’t be easily removed.
  • 3.
    Pay particular attention to the back of the neck, behind the ears and your child’s bangs to the crown of their head. Recently laid eggs are nearly transparent so it’s helpful to examine hair from different angles.
  • 4.
    If lice are present, rinse the comb under the faucet to remove any lice that may have been picked up and immediately implement lice treatment to eliminate an infestation effectively and safely.
and share our lice check cheat sheet

There are more options than ever before for treating head lice, however with lice growing increasingly resistant to traditional over-the-counter pesticide-based products, not all products claiming to kill lice, super lice and eggs work the same way. To get rid of lice, you need to focus on two important aspects:

  • Kill the lice that are living
  • Kill the lice eggs waiting to hatch

A good treatment attacks the full life cycle of adult lice and eggs to decrease the hassle and risk of spreading lice throughout your household.

Here are some ways families can defend against and prevent these nuisance invaders, including super lice:

Don’t share items that touch the head: Although the most common way for head lice to spread is through direct head-to-head contact with an infested person, it’s possible to transfer head lice by sharing items. It’s important to teach children to keep their hats, helmets, brushes, headbands, scarves other items that are on or around the head to themselves. Especially at school or summer camp, it’s important children are using their own brushes and personal items.

Avoid shared spaces: Encourage them to not share close quarters with friends. Encourage children to keep their belongings, including hats, coats, scarves and other articles of clothing to themselves.

Go for an updo: When possible, have children wear long hair pulled back.

The “star method”: It’s difficult to avoid contact between children as they wrestle, cuddle and play. Utilize the “star method”, where everyone is placed in a circle, with feet touching in the center rather than heads. This may help prevent the spread of anything extra that guests have brought with them.

Catch it early: The key to controlling a head lice infestation is to catch it early. Be aware of the signs and symptoms related to lice, including excessive itching or an irritated scalp. If you notice your child or another child scratching, do a thorough check to be sure he or she doesn’t have lice.

Act quickly: If you are notified of a possible outbreak near you, immediately check all the children’s hair searching for nits close to the scalp or sores from scratching at the nape or behind the ears. A fine-toothed louse comb can help detect live head lice by trapping them in their teeth as the comb is pulled through the hair near the scalp. Catching an infestation sooner rather than later makes treatment more manageable. Learn more about how to check for lice here.

It’s not the end of the world: If lice do take up residence, it’s important not to panic, chastise, or humiliate a child for having them. Although it may make your skin crawl, having head lice is a relatively mild condition that impacts as many as 12 million school-aged children annually in the U.S. Products from Vamousse help families treat and defend against these unwelcoming visitors without applying pesticide to a child’s head.

Where to Buy


Vamousse offers a full line of head lice solutions for the whole family