What are Lice?

Lice are parasitic insects that can infest the scalp of humans. They cause an itchy scalp condition called pediculosis. There are three types of lice that infest humans: head lice, body lice, and pubic lice. Lice are most commonly found on the scalp but can also live on other parts of the body.

Signs of Lice

The most common symptom of a lice infestation is an itchy scalp. Other potential symptoms include the presence of small bugs on the scalp or body, eggs (also called nits) attached to hair shafts, and white or grey specks on clothing or bedding.

Treatment and Prevention

A variety of over-the-counter medications are available to treat lice. These treatments typically involve the use of insecticides such as permethrin or pyrethrin. These medications should be used as directed and may need to be repeated after seven to 10 days.

Prevention is the key to avoiding a lice infestation. Be sure to avoid sharing items such as hats, combs, brushes, and other accessories with others. Also, wash bedding, clothing, and towels in hot water and dry on high heat. Vacuum carpets and furniture regularly and invest in a lice-repelling product like a spray or lotion. If you or your child has lice, inform all family members, friends, and other contacts so that they can be treated as well.

Common Myths about Lice

There are a lot of false beliefs about lice, including:

  • Lice can jump or fly: Lice don’t have wings and can only crawl.
  • Pets can spread lice: Lice can only survive on human blood, not on animals.
  • Head lice are caused by bad hygiene: Lice infestations are common regardless of a person’s level of hygiene.
  • Lice are dangerous: While lice can cause skin irritation and discomfort, they do not spread any serious diseases.