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How to Identify Lice

The nit hatches into a baby louse called a nymph. It looks like an adult louse, but is smaller. Nymphs mature into adults about seven days after hatching. To live, the nymph must feed on blood.
Adult Head Louse
The adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed, has six legs, and is tan to grayish-white. In people with dark hair, the adult louse will look darker. Female lice, which are usually larger than the males, lay eggs. To live, adult lice need to feed on blood. If a head louse or pubic louse falls off a person, it dies within two days. Body lice can live up to 10 days without feeding.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common symptom with any of the types of lice is itching. This is because the saliva of the insects causes an allergic reaction. Keep in mind that not everyone will have symptoms.
Head lice can be anywhere on the scalp, but most commonly are seen behind the ears and on the back of the head near the neckline. When looking at the scalp, very few insects are usually seen. This is because they move very quickly. However, there are usually many nits (lice eggs) at the base of the scalp (see Signs of Head Lice).
Pubic lice are generally found in the genital area on pubic hair, but may occasionally be found on other coarse body hair, such as hair on the legs, armpits, mustache, beard, eyebrows, or eyelashes. Infestations in young children are usually on the eyebrows or eyelashes (see Signs of Pubic Lice).
The most common symptom of body lice is also frequent intense itching. Long-term infestations of the body may lead to thickening and discoloration of the skin, particularly around the waist, groin, and upper thighs (see Signs of Body Lice).
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Information on Lice

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