Color: Dirty white to grayish black
Shape: Long, flat
Region: Throughout the United States
Lice are extremely small but can be recognized by the naked eye. There can be thousands of lice on a host at a time. Lice are wingless parasites that feed on blood. There are over 3,000 louse species throughout the world, but the three most common found in the United States are Head Lice, Body Lice and Crab Lice.
Head Lice are found on the scalp and are usually “figured out” when there is excessive scratching. Head Lice is most commonly found in school aged children and it has nothing to do with money status or cleanliness. Head Lice spreads easily because of close proximity of children and the sharing of hairbrushes, hats, etc. Girls are 5 times more likely to contract Head Lice than boys. The Head Lice lay 50-100 oval eggs that are yellowish in color. When laid, they are individually cemented at the base of a hair follicle to the scalp. The eggs do well in high humidity and warmth. It takes 5-10 days for the Head Lice to hatch and once that happens, they need to feed, or they will die within 24 hours. Head Lice live for about 3 weeks when attached to a host as they will not survive 48 hours without a host.
Body Lice are just what they name implies. They are found mostly on clothing and are transmitted by the sharing of clothing or bedding. A female lays 200 eggs at a time and they are individually cemented at the base of clothing fiber and in clothing seams. Body Lice is likely uncommon today as it was more common during war and disaster areas. This is because Body Lice thrive on warmth and multiple layers of clothing.
Crab Lice tend to like coarser hair so it will be likely found in beards, eyebrows, armpits, and the pubic region. Crab Lice are transmitted through direct physical contact but will die within 24 hours if it does not have a host to feed on. Crab Lice female lay 15-50 whiteish eggs and those eggs will hatch in 7-8 days with a life span of 15-25 days.
All lice bites cause itchiness and redness. Lice do not transmit disease, but the constant itching may break open the skin which may then cause infection.