Lice are tiny, wingless, parasitic insects that feed on blood. Several different types of lice exist however the three most common types include head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis), body lice (Pediculus humanus corporis), and pubic “crab” lice (Pthirus pubis).
Adult head lice and body lice are very similar in size, ranging from 2.1-3.6 millimeters in length. Crab lice are slightly smaller and range 1.1-1.8 millimeters in length. The color of lice varies from pale beige to a dark grey. If the lice are feeding on blood, its coloring becomes darkened.
Head lice and body lice are found nationwide.
Head lice can be found on head hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes of people. Head lice feed on human blood and live close to the human scalp. Body lice can be found on any part of the body that has been exposed to lice.
Know the symptoms - the most common symptom is itching on and around the head and nape of the neck. Ensure your kids don't share hats or hair brushes at school. Pillows and pillow cases at sleepovers can also transfer lice to your child's head. Make sure you and your children bathe regularly. Lice cannot survive extreme hot or cold temperatures. The heat from blow drying hair may also help kill and prevent lice and their eggs. Airplane seats, movie theatre seats, and bus seats often carry lice. Take your jacket and put it over the seat before you sit down and wash your jacket in hot water.
Bites from lice are not dangerous or directly harmful to humans. However, the saliva left behind after a bite, as well as their feces, can sensitize humans to future bites. This then aggravates the irritation and increases the chance of getting a secondary infection from excessive scratching.