Types of Lice

Of the three different types of Lice (Head, Body, and Pubic), the body louse is the least common in the United States. Nevertheless, it is important to understand the differences and similarities between these different types of Lice.

Head Lice live from 3-6 weeks, depending on temperature and humidity. During their lifetime, a female can lay up to 100 eggs at a rate of about 6-7 a day. Of those eggs, only the ones that have been fertilized will hatch. Lice must feed on human blood in order to survive. Once they are dislodged from their host, they will die within 48 hours. The nits can survive up to 10 days off of a host, but once hatched, they must feed on a human host within a short time window or they will die. Head lice outbreaks are most common among school age children, especially girls. This is because they like to play “dress up”, do each other’s hair, and have sleepovers.

Body Lice live on the body and in the clothing and bedding. Body lice infestations spread rapidly under crowded conditions where hygiene is poor and there is frequent contact among people. Infestation is unlikely to persist on anyone who bathes regularly and who regularly has access to freshly laundered clothing and bedding.

Pubic Lice (a.k.a. Crabs) can live in almost any form of human hair, but are found most commonly in pubic hair. Its legs are adapted to climbing along relatively widely spaced hairs, thus it can be found in eyebrows, pubic hair, beards, moustaches, and even underarm hair. Pubic lice are usually spread through sexual contact. Rarely, infestation can be spread through contact with an infested person’s bed linens, towels, or clothes.

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