Lice and Louse Facts

 

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  • Pictures, Treatments, Facts and Info about the louse, their Life Cycle and how they infect us!

Louse and Lice Facts

  • 'Lice' is the common name given to well over 3000 species of louse from the Phthiraptera order
  • The head louse affects an estimated 12 million people in the United States each year
  • Most products used to treat head lice contain the botanical insecticide pyrethrum, or its synthetic cousin Permethrin, as the active ingredient.
  • Over the past two decades, resistance to these chemicals has become a serious worldwide problem, causing a crisis in the chemical management of head lice.
  • Some studies have found that types of louse are also becoming resistant to Malathion, a pesticide used in prescription treatments that is more toxic than pyrethrum
  • The louse is a wingless ectoparasitic (parasites that survive by dwelling and feeding on the exterior of another organism) insect that feeds on skin, debris, blood and sebaceous secretions of another host
  • 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 a louse 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
  • The size of a louse 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)
  • The lifecycle of a louse has three stages and these are egg (or nit), nymph and adult
  • Female lice can lay well over a hundred eggs/nits
  • 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
  • Body lice act as vectors 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)

Louse and Lice Facts

facts about lice

Louse and Lice Facts

  • A louse can infect the puncture wounds of a feeding spot with infectious saliva whilst sucking blood
  • Lice which most commonly cause humans a problem are head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis), body lice (Pediculus humanus corporis) and pubic lice (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 head lice are most prevalent
  • Pubic lice are not limited to the hair around the groin though and can be found living in other hairy areas of the body such as the anus, the back, the chest, the underarms and on facial hair (beards, moustaches, eyelashes and eyebrows)
  • The most common way to catch pubic lice is through close body contact, such as sexual intercourse. Other ways could be via kissing an infected person with lice in their beard or moustache (nonsexual contact)
  • Pubic lice only infect humans and do not infest other animals
  • Lice eggs can range in colour, depending on if they are still carrying lice or if they are empty/dead
  • Dandruff and dry flaky skin can sometimes be mistaken for lice eggs
  • Lice eggs are so small; it may be difficult to see them unless you have very good eyesight. Ranging between 0.3 and 0.8 mm, they can be white, yellow or brown and are oval shaped

 

Louse and Lice Facts

  • To check if the eggs are alive or not by pinching them with the finger tips - if they pop, then they are likely to have been alive
  • Eggs from a louse take around 1-2 weeks to hatch which is why most lotions and creams are used in two stages
  • Nits eggs are found in all types of hair - clean and dirty
  • One of the differing characteristics of the body louse from the head and pubic louse is that they will also attach their eggs to clothing rather than solely to the base of hair strands close to the skin
  • Body lice need to feed on blood to survive, so they must remain on the skin to a certain extent
  • Cats can get lice and it is normally the cats that are really old, young or unhealthy (such as strays) that cannot groom themselves properly which are most vulnerable
  • Lice on cats do not generally spread to humans (or dogs); however they will move from cat to cat/kitten (host-specific)
  • Signs and symptoms of lice on cats can include drying of the skin, itching (sometimes severe) where the bites have taken place, anaemia, hair loss and matted hair
  • Book lice can be found on and around trees (i.e. Bark lice), in bird's nests, under leaves and bark but also in cupboards at home, around wall paper, new plaster board and in business premises (food and retail)
  • Book lice feed on microscopic moulds and bacteria, decaying animal and plant materials, lichen, algae, fungi and organic detritus as well as the glue used in books
  • Book lice do not bite, infest or feed off humans (which is good news), but they may contaminate food if left to do so and can cause mild skin irritation
  • Book lice enjoy damp, dark and warm areas they also are attracted to foods which contain moisture such as milk, powders, flour and sugar
  • Many outbreaks and epidemics are often started as people do not know they have head lice
  • To prevent head lice, close head to head contact and sharing of brushes, hats, etc should be avoided (certainly by your children)
  • Sea lice (plural of sea louse) are copepods from the Order, Siphonostonmatoida
  • Little is known on how sea lice locate their hosts, but it is believed that light, temperature, currents and timing play a major part
  • 'Sea lice' is also the name given to small stinging marine organisms that can cause painful and unsightly rashes if brushed up against in the open water
  • Mites and Lice are both common pests that affect us and our animals; however they are two completely different types of parasite
  • With special adapted mouthparts, poultry lice chew/bite on their hosts scab tissue and dry scales, however if the bird's feather quills or skin are punctured, poultry lice will also feed on their blood
  • Poultry lice lay their eggs mainly around the thigh, breast and feathered vent areas of the bird's body
  • Poultry lice are more commonly found on the weaker of birds or those that are unable to groom themselves properly (such as the injured or birds that have had their beaks trimmed)
  • The presence of a severe lice infestation can cause poultry to produce fewer eggs, not feed properly (weight loss), develop ill heath (stress), sleep deprivation (due to itching & biting at night) and even cause fatalities
  • Moulting reduces louse populations on poultry, so it may be a good idea to induce moulting if the lice are severe
  • Biting lice feed on the scab tissue, dry scales, skin and feathers of many different birds and if the skin is punctured, through scratching or infection, some biting lice also feed on the blood of their host
  • In North America, Canada and the UK black people are less likely to get lice due to their hair structure
  • The crabs louse can cause discomfort, worry and embarrassment however; it does not usually cause any further illnesses or diseases

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

Louse and Lice Facts

Louse and Lice Facts

  • Info about the Louse
  • 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 a head louse? Remedies for a head louse!
  • Need pubic louse treatment? Find out what to do here
  • Symptoms of a head louse infestation? Search our information on Combs!
  • Life Cycle of a head louse and information on possible prevention methods, treatment and avoidance
  • What is a body louse? Take a look at our Picture pages

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