How Long Can Lice Live Without A Host (And Why)?

How Long Can Lice Live Without A Host (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 24 To 48 Hours

Lice are parasitic insects that need a host to live. The host provides lice nourishment and a source of food to survive. Apart from just food and nourishment, the host provides the lice the warmth that is needed for the eggs of the lice to hatch. When provided with the host, lice can easily live up from a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of 45 days. However, if separated from the host, lice fail to live long enough, but just a span of a few hours to a couple of days. 

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How Long Can Lice Live Without A Host?

Life Stage Of LiceTime
Adult lice5 hours to 1 day
Young lice1 day to 2 days

Whereas, if a louse gets separated from the scalp of the host then all the required conditions for a louse to survive for a long time are not provided. It does not get any food or any source of nourishment. Due to this, neither the lice can lay eggs nor the eggs can hatch because of loss of warmth. Therefore, because of all these reasons, the lifespan of the lice gets reduced from a minimum of 1 day to a maximum of 2 days only.

It is important to note that the stage of the lice also determines the time for how long lice can live without a host. If a louse is in its young stage, such as if it has hatched recently out of its eggs then it would not be able to survive for even a single day without the host. In this case, the lifespan is for only about a minimum of 5 hours to a maximum of 1 day. 

While on the other hand, if the louse is an adult then it would easily be able to survive up to a minimum of 1 day to a maximum of 2 days.

Why Does Lice Live Without A Host For That Long?

The host of lice is majorly the scalp of a human, however, in some very rare cases lice can also live on eyebrows and eyelashes as well. When living on their host, lice take up nutrition from the scalp by sucking blood and using the warmth of the scalp to hatch their eggs. A single louse takes up blood from the scalp of the host multiple times a day. Not just live on the host, but lice multiply their count too. A single female louse lays up to 6 eggs a day.

The reason behind why young lice are not able to live for as long when compared to how long an adult louse would live without a host is because of the loss of warmth. When a lice hatch out of its egg then it needs the warmth that is provided in the head for the initial few days to survive. When separated from the host, the young louse is not able to receive that warmth and thus fails to live long enough. Apart from that, a young louse also needs immediate food and nourishment after hatching out of its egg to survive.

The reason behind why adult lice live longer than young lice is because adult lice are more resistant to external conditions even when separated from their host. They can survive up to as long as two days on inanimate objects as well such as carpets, floors, utensils, curtains, and other such places.


Lice are found in children of the age group from 3 years to 12 years. According to statistics, about 6 million to 12 million people get lice every single year. These are highly contagious and can spread from one host scalp to another host scalp when both the hosts are close to each other. This happens majorly in the case of children as they play together in unhygienic places being very close to each other.

Lice are considered unhealthy and unhygienic therefore it is important to kill lice before they start spreading. Many medicated shampoos are designed to kill lice. Apart from this, multiple home remedies must be followed to kill lice such as smothering and wet combing.


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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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