Lice - Symptoms

The most common symptom of a lice infestation is intense itching. The itching is caused by a toxin (poison) present in the saliva of lice. Repeated bites can lead to severe inflammation of the skin. Scratching lice bites can often cause injury to the skin. Other symptoms of lice infestation depend on the body part in which the lice occur.

Head lice often produce intense itching. A patient may actually scratch the skin open. When that happens, a bacterial infection may develop. An attack of head lice often causes swelling of the neck glands as well.

Body lice also cause intense itching. Their bites may first appear as small, red pimples. Eventually, the pimples develop into a rash that covers the skin. If body lice are not treated, complications may develop, including headaches, fever, and bacterial infections.

Pubic lice may be difficult to see, but scratches made by an itching patient are usually easily visible. Small dark-brown specks on a person's underwear are also a sign of pubic lice. The specks are matter excreted by the lice. Less commonly, pubic lice may cause the formation of small bluish spots on the patient's body, especially the thighs.

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