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Body lice and Hair lice

Body lice are parasitic insects that live on the body and in the clothing or bedding of infested humans. Infestation is common, found worldwide, and affects people of all races. Body lice infestations spread rapidly under crowded conditions where hygiene is poor and there is frequent contact among people.

body lice symptoms

Body lice

Are body lice infestations common in the United States? Body lice are found only in homeless, transient populations who don’t have access to changes of clothes or bath. Infestation is unlikely to persist on anyone who bathes regularly and who regularly has access to freshly laundered clothing and bedding.

Epidemics of typhus and louse-borne relapsing fever have been caused by body lice. Though typhus is no longer widespread, epidemics still occur during times of war, civil unrest, natural disasters, in refugee camps, and prisons where people live crowded together in unsanitary conditions. Typhus still exists in places where climate, chronic poverty, and social customs prevent regular changes and laundering of clothing.

symptoms of body lice: Itching and rash are common; both are your body’s allergic reaction to the lice bite. Long-term body lice infestations may lead to thickening and discoloration of the skin, particularly around the waist, groin, and upper thighs. Sores on the body may be caused by scratching. These sores can sometimes become infected with bacteria or fungi.

Body lice are spread directly through contact with a person who has body lice, or indirectly through shared clothing, beds, bed linens, or towels..

body lice symptoms

Body Louse

Nits are body lice eggs. They are generally easy to see in the seams of clothing, particularly around the waistline and under armpits. They are about the size of the mark at the end of this arrow . Nits may also be attached to body hair. They are oval and usually yellow to white. Nits may take 30 days to hatch

The egg hatches into a baby louse called a nymph. It looks like an adult body louse, but is smaller. Nymphs mature into adults about 7 days after hatching. To live, the nymph must feed on blood.The adult body louse is about the size of a sesame seed, has 6 legs, and is tan to greyish-white. Females lay eggs. To live, adult lice need to feed on blood. If the louse falls off of a person, it dies within 10 days.

Head lice are found in children of all socioeconomic classes. They are very contagious and can spread easily. While there is no reason to panic (head lice do not carry serious diseases), taking action quickly is the best way to prevent the infestation of other family members. It is also important for parents to remain calm because they will need the cooperation of their child to successfully treat this problem.

body lice symptoms

Head lice

Head lice are quite small. Adults are 1/10 to 1/8 of an inch long and the immature lice are even smaller. The tiniest lice are not much larger than the nit. Head lice are tan to grayish-white. Head lice cannot fly or hop like fleas, but they can crawl quickly through the hair at a rate of nine inches per minute.

An adult female head louse lays an average of 6-7 eggs per day and the average life span is about 32 days. Eggs hatch within 7-10 days after being laid. Immature lice pass through three stages before becoming adults, which takes another 8–9 days. One pregnant adult female can produce enough offspring so a significant infestation can occur within a month. A child having a significant infestation has been infested for at least a month or more. Scientists believe children are most contagious when they have adult lice on their head.

Eggs are white when they are first laid and turn brown before they hatch . Once they hatch, eggs are called nits. Eggs are glued to individual hair strands about 1/2-inch from the scalp. This glue is so strong the eggs cannot be as easily removed as dandruff and other hair debris. Researchers have found the glue is chemically similar to components in human hair, making it difficult to develop a safe solvent to aid in nit removal.

Head lice require the warm, humid environment of the human scalp for survival. They feed frequently and quickly become dehydrated if they fall off their host. Eggs removed from the human head won’t hatch at room temperature. While not impossible, it is extremely unusual for someone to become infested from lice or eggs that fall off a host. Studies indicate head-to-head contact is primarily how head lice spread from one person to another.

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