Head Lice Facts and Fiction

At GAIA Hit Nitz 4 6, we are passionate about head lice education and removing some of the myths associated with them.

The Facts

  • Approx 1 in 4 children in Australia may have head lice
  • Live eggs (nits) are brown/yellow in colour.
  • Dead or hatched eggs are white or clear.
  • Head lice don't care if hair is clean or dirty.
  • Head lice live on the hair shaft and only go to the scalp to feed. They feed every few hours.
  • Head lice need warmth to survive and eggs (nits) need warmth to hatch.
  • Head lice usually only leave the head of their host to transfer to another host. If found anywhere else, they are likely to be sick or dying and will not survive long without blood.

The Fiction/Old Wives Tales

  • You must wash bed linen, towels, the carpet and the dog.
  • Head lice can jump.
  • You need to remove all white eggs from hair. (These are dead eggs so there's no
    need to remove them unless you want to for cosmetic purposes. Just wait for them to fall out.)

Head Lice Life Cycle and Appearance

The adult louse is 2 to 3mm long (the size of a sesame seed) and usually pale grey, although colour may vary. The female usually lives up to 3 to 4 weeks and lays approximately 10 eggs (nits) a day. These tiny eggs are firmly attached to the hair shaft close to the scalp with a glue like substance produced by the louse.

Viable nits camouflaged with pigment to match the hair colour of the infested person are most easily seen at the posterior hairline. Empty nit casings are easier to see, appearing white against darker hair. The eggs are incubated by body heat and hatch in 10-14 days. Once the eggs hatch, nymphs leave the shell casing to grow for about 9-12 days, and mate, and then females lay eggs. If not treated, this cycle may repeat itself every 3 weeks. While a louse is living on the head, it feeds by injecting small amounts of saliva and taking tiny amounts of blood from the scalp every few hours. This saliva may create an itchy irritation.

With a first case of head lice, itching may not develop for 4 to 6 weeks, because it takes time to develop a sensitivity to louse saliva. Head lice usually survive for less than 1 day away from scalp at normal room temperature, and their eggs cannot hatch at an ambient temperature lower than that near the scalp. In general nits found more than 1 cm from the scalp are unlikely to be viable.

[Reference: Head Lice, Barbara L. Frankowski, Leonard B. Weiner, Committee on School Health and Committee on Infectious Diseases, Paediatrics 2002; 110;638]

GAIA Hit Nitz 4 6 offers a free head lice information service - +61 3 9703 1707


Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist see your doctor/healthcare professional.

Our Products

GAIA Hit Nitz 4 6 Head Lice Products

GAIA Hit Nitz 4 6 provides two easy to use products to help break the head lice cycle in two steps.

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