What You Need to Know About Lice
How Are They Transmitted?Lice are very contagious. Direct contact with an already infested person is the most common way that head lice and pubic lice are spread. Body lice are most often spread through contact with infected clothing or bedding. Pubic lice and body lice can also be spread this way, but it is less common than direct contact.
The insects are quite active and can travel quickly, which explains why they are transmitted so easily. However, they are not long-distance travelers, and they do not do well away from the host. Although adept at moving from hair to hair, they cannot jump or crawl very far (from the floor to someone's head, for example).
(Click any of the links below for more information on how each type is spread:
(Click Lice Prevention to learn how to prevent any of these types of infestations.)
There are three stages of a louse's life:
- The egg (also called a nit)
- The nymph
- The adult.
(Click What Do Lice Look Like? to see pictures of the three different stages.)
The life cycle from egg to egg is approximately one month.
Nits are head lice eggs. They are very small (about the size of a knot in thread) and hard to see. Nits are often confused for dandruff or hair spray droplets. They are oval and usually yellow to white. They take about one week to hatch. Once hatched, they are white or clear in color.