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What Are Lice?

Lice are wingless insects that live on hair and feed on the skin. They six-legged and feed off blood in the skin. They are about the size of a sesame seed and their hook-like claws make it difficult to remove them from strands of hair. Head lice are found throughout the world and can affect anyone, regardless of social class. In the US alone, it is estimated that between 6 million and 12 million people are affected by head lice each year.

Although their bites are painless, many people react to the saliva or faeces of lice, which can produce redness or irritation. Unfortunately, scratching the skin may lead to a secondary bacterial infection.

There are 3 main types of lice:

  • Head lice
  • Body lice
  • Pubic lice

Health risks:

  • Head lice and pubic lice cause no other health risks
  • Body lice, which are much less common, can carry disease and spread infections such as rickettsia and spirochetes

Appearance:

  • Head lice and body lice look identical
  • Pubic lice are wider and shorter

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