Lice are small, wingless insects that attach themselves to the hair shafts of the head, body, and pubic area. These insects feed on blood and lay their eggs called nits on the hair shaft.

Body louse
Body louse (pl. lice) or Pediculus humanus corporis.

Symptoms of Lice Infection

Lice infection symptoms include:

  • Black mites

  • White flakes (eggs or nits)
    These eggs oval in shape, pinhead-sized and white or gray in color. They are often mistaken for dandruff - however, unlike dandruff, they are firmly attached to the hair shaft.

  • Itching

A secondary bacterial infection may develop on the skin that is injured by repeated scratching.

Who Gets Lice?

Pubic lice (also known as crab lice or crabs) are spread through sexual contact.

Head lice is common in young children, and is very contagious. It spreads through:

  • Direct contact
  • Shared clothings and hats
  • Shared combs and brush
How can it be prevented?

Body lice can be prevented by good hygiene and regular bathing

Head lice can be prevented by encouraging children not to share clothings, hats, combs, brush, or anything else that can transfer the mites and eggs.

Treatment of Lice Infection

Lice can be treated by:

  • Nonprescription antilice shampoo, lotions and creams
    These products usually contain pyrethrins or permethrin.

  • Physical removal of the eggs using special combs or tweezers.

  • Hydrocortisone lotion for the itching

As the mite eggs can survive in clothings, it is crucial to wash and dry clothings, bedsheets and blankets in a hot dryer.

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