What are Lice

 

Getting Rid of Lice Index
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  • Pictures, Treatments, Facts and Info about their Life Cycle and how they infect us!


What are Lice?

Lice is the common name given to well over 3000 species of louse from the Phthiraptera order. The exact number is unclear, but within this order, there are two suborders - Anoplura (sucking louse) and Mallophaga (chewing louse). It is thought that there are around 500 species of sucking lice and 3000 species of chewing lice worldwide. Lice are wingless ectoparasite (parasites that survive by dwelling and feeding on the exterior of another organism) insects that feed on skin, debris, blood and sebaceous secretions of another host. They can be found on all types of mammals (including humans) and birds.

What Do Lice Look Like?
Lice are very small insects with three pairs of legs. They cannot fly or jump and they are generally transported from one human host to another by direct contact (rubbing heads together or sexual intercourse) or by sharing objects such as combs, brushes, bed sheets, hats/caps and clothing. The colour of lice varies depending on age, sex and perhaps if they have just fed (on blood) or are pregnant however they generally range from translucent/light grey to dark grey/red/brown in colour. Their sizes can also differ depending on specie, age and sex, but body lice for example generally range between the size of a pinhead (1-2mm) up to a sesame seed (3mm).

Lice Life cycle
The lifecycle of lice has three stages and these are egg (or nit), nymph and adult. Female lice can lay well over a hundred eggs/nits (usually white in colour) which attach to the base of the strand of hair of their host for up to ten days, using sticky saliva (the nearer the scalp the better for these eggs as they require body heat). These eggs then hatch into nymphs, which are born as miniature versions of adults ('exopterygotes') and the nymphs must moult three times before they reach adulthood. This process usually takes a further ten days to complete. The casing that the nymph hatches from will stay on the hair and turn yellow. Adult lice feed on their host by piercing the skin and sucking their blood. The females are generally bigger than the males and can lay around 8 eggs a day over a 30 day period (if left untreated).

About Lice

what are lice?
 

Diseases from Lice
Like fleas and ticks, if lice do not feed on a host they cannot generally survive for very long. Whilst they inhabit a host they can cause discomfort and irritation as well as possibly transmitting diseases. The body louse acts as a vector of 3 bacteria which cause the following diseases in humans: Borrelia recurrentis (agent of relapsing fever), Rickettsia prowazekii (agent of epidemic typhus) and Bartonella Quintana (agent of trench fever). The latter infected approximately 1 million soldiers in WWI which probably earned the common name 'trench fever'. Lice can infect the puncture wounds of a feeding spot with infectious saliva whilst sucking blood.

 

 

 

The types of louse which most commonly cause humans a problem are the head louse (Pediculus humanus capitis), body louse (Pediculus humanus corporis) and pubic louse (Phthirus pubis) and are three can be referred to as Pediculosis. Most children will have an experience with head lice or nits during their time at school and it is with young children that they are most prevalent. Body lice can be picked up through many means but pubic lice is more common in adults (passed on when having intercourse). It is important to seek treatment as soon as possible and to do your best to avoid passing them on to others. For more information on particular types of lice (such as Dog Lice), symptoms, treatments and prevention please visit our Index page at the base of this article.

Thousands of people search to find out about different types of louse and how to get rid of them. Fortunately there are so many products available on line, you should be able to find what you want without too much of a problem. We hope that you have found this article a useful guide and that any questions you may have had have been answered. You will find that this website is a great resource, including this article, whether you are looking to learn more, purchase products or just seek some quiet information. Men, women and children are all affected by these parasites and we hope you have located the treatment you may need, be it a comb, lotion, cream, medication or shampoo. Treatments and Remedies should be sought after quickly and if you have crabs you should seek medical advice so they cannot be spread or infect others.

Lice

What is Lice

  • Combs, Liquids, Lotions, Insecticides and Medication for control
  • Facts and Information about a body louse, head louse, hair louse and pubic louse
  • How do you get head-lice? Remedies for head-lice!
  • Need pubic-lice treatment? Find out what to do here
  • Symptoms of head-lice? Search our information on combs!
  • Life Cycle of a head louse and information on possible prevention methods, treatment and avoidance
  • What is a louse? Take a look at our pictures

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