Lice - Causes

The three common types of lice infestation are head lice, body lice, and pubic lice. Head lice can be transmitted by sharing hats, combs, or hairbrushes. Epidemics of head lice are very common among school-age children. An epidemic is the rapid spread of a disease across a wide geographical area. Head lice do not cause typhus or other serious diseases.

A slang term for pubic lice.
A situation in which large numbers of organisms come together in a single area.
A chemical used in the treatment of lice infestations.
An insecticide that is sometimes used in the treatment of clothing and bedding belonging to people who have lice.
The eggs produced by head or pubic lice.
A medication used to treat head lice.

The head louse is about .06 inches (.15 centimeters) in length and can usually be seen by examining the patient's scalp. The louse reproduces by laying eggs, which are attached to the base of hairs close to the scalp. Nits (a name for the eggs and young lice) hatch in three to fourteen days. After they hatch, they must feed on blood within a day. If they do not, they die. Head lice may spread to the eyebrows, eyelashes, and facial hair in adults. They are usually isolated to the scalp in children.

Body lice are about the same size as head lice, but are more difficult to see. They tend to spend their lives in clothing, only coming to the skin to feed. People who wear the same clothes day after day are at risk for lice infestations. The lice spread easily from person to person through close personal contact or sharing of bedding.

Pubic lice, also known as crabs, tend to infest the genital area. However, they may also spread to other parts of the body. Individuals contract pubic lice through intimate contact or by sharing bedding, towels, or clothing.

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