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Lice Symptoms

The symptoms experienced by a person with lice will depend on whether that person is infested with head, body, or pubic lice. However, itching is a common symptom of lice (all types). Also, with cases of long-term infestations, signs and symptoms can include thickening or discoloration of the skin.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Lice?

Lice are tiny, wingless parasitic insects. They live for about a month and require blood in order to survive. Without blood meals, they die within a few days.
 
There are three types of lice that infest humans:
 
  • Pediculus humanus capitis (head lice)
  • Pediculus humanus corporis (body lice)
  • Phthirus pubis (pubic lice or crab lice; also called crabs).
     
The symptoms and signs of lice will vary based on the type of lice infestation.
 

Head Lice Symptoms

The most common symptom of head lice is itching. This is because the saliva of head lice causes an allergic reaction. Keep in mind that not everyone with head lice 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 head lice are usually seen. This is because they move very quickly. However, there are usually many nits (lice eggs) at the base of the scalp.
 
(Click Signs of Head Lice for other possible head lice symptoms and signs.)
 

Symptoms of Pubic Lice

The most common pubic lice symptom is frequent intense itching.
 
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 of pubic lice affecting young children are usually on the eyebrows or eyelashes.
 
(Click Signs of Pubic Lice for other possible signs or symptoms of pubic lice.)
 
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Information on Lice

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