There are three kinds of lice that can infect humans:
- Head lice– found on the scalp, neck and ears
- Body lice – live in the seams and folds of clothing
- Pubic lice – also called crabs and are smaller than head lice and body lice
When you find yourself or someone in the family constantly scratching your head, as well as the neck and ear area, you fear being infected by head lice. However, rather than jump right into treatment, it’s best to first determine the existence of such creatures in the hair.
One of the best gauges of an infestation is seeing nits in the hair.
All this said, how to know if you’ve spotted a nit? Checking what you have found against pictures of head lice may help
Again, head lice are quite difficult to see. And as evidenced from the list presented above, you know that they can be confused for a lot of other things. They can be found close to base of the hair that is closest to the scalp as this is where a female louse chooses to lay her eggs. It’s the heat from the scalp that warms the eggs and helps them hatch.
Body and Public Lice: Knowing the Difference
Lice in general are blood-sucking insects that infest different parts of the body. They are about 1-3 mm long and have three pairs of legs equipped with powerful claws.
A female louse lives for about one to three months, but it dies when it becomes separated from the host. She can lay up to 300 eggs during her lifetime.
The eggs, on the other hand, measure less than 1 mm in diameter. When visible, they are opalescent. They hatch within six to 10 days after being laid. The nymphs that hatch out of these eggs take 10 days to become adults.
A Closer Look at Body Lice
Body lice are spread through close contact with other people. They live in the seams and folds of clothing. Just like head lice, they feed on human blood. They lay their eggs, as well as deposit waste matter, on the skin and clothing.
- Body lice can live up to a month in clothing
- If they fall of a person, they can die within five to seven days at room temperature
Causes of Infection
You can get them when you get into contact with a person who is infected. Other ways of catching it include clothing, towels or bedding.
Body lice are bigger than other kinds of lice. You are most likely prone to this if you:
- do not bathe or wash your clothes
- live in overcrowded conditions
Treatment and Cure
These lice will not last if you bathe regularly and wash clothes and bedding at least once a week. Putting clothes in a hot dryer helps kill the lice in your clothing.
It’s also best to see a doctor so they can prescribe the proper medication to use along with the non-medical procedures to get rid of body lice.
A Deeper Investigation of Pubic Lice
Pubic lice infect the pubic area and lay their eggs there as well. They can also be found in armpit hair and eyebrows.
What are the causes?
Public lice, known as Pthirus pubis, are mostly found in teenagers. Sexual activity is the common cause of them being spread.
In rare occasions, they can be passed through contact with objects such as blankets, sheets, toilet seats or bathing suits from a store.
Those at greater risk for this kind of lice include:
- Those who have lots of sexual partners
- Those who have had sexual contact with a partner who is infected
- Those who share bedding or clothing with a person who is infected
What are the symptoms?
Itching in the pubic hair, most especially at night when it tends to get worse. Itching starts as soon as you get infected with lice, but it can also take up to 2 to 4 weeks after contact to manifest.
Other things to look out for include:
- skin reaction where skin turns bluish-gray in color
- sores in genital area
Treatment and Care
Pubic lice are treated with a prescription wash that contains permethrin, examples of which include Elimite or Kwell. Most only need one treatment, but if a second one is needed, then it should be done about four days to a week later.
Just like getting rid of body lice, all clothing and bedding should be washed in hot water. You can also make sure that the person with whom you’ve had sexual contact gets treated too.