What are Lice?

Lice are actually tiny six-legged insects that are found in the hair usually on the scalp, pubic region or in the seams of clothing. They may also be found on the armpits, eyebrows, facial hair, eyelashes or on other parts of the body.

What Causes Lice?

Lice may be caused by close physical contact with a person who has lice. Preschool and elementary school children are the most common victims of head lice, as they often share combs, hats and other personal items. Adults living with small children may be at an increased risk of head lice. Body lice are found in the seams of clothing. Anybody who comes into contact with the close, bed sheets or other personal items belonging to a person who has body lice may be at risk of becoming infested themselves. Pubic lice may be caused by sexual contact with a person infested with pubic lice. Reduce your number of sexual partners and avoid contact with people who have pubic lice.

Symptoms of Lice

Itching is the most common symptom associated with lice. The itching is actually caused by an allergic reaction to saliva from lice bites. Upon one's first infestation, it may take several weeks or months before symptoms are present. Subsequent infestations may cause itching or other symptoms within a couple of days, as the immune system will respond quicker to lice bites. Head lice may also cause broken skin or sores from scratching. The sores may become crusted over and may become infected. If infection occurs, the lymph nodes may respond by swelling. In addition to itching, pubic lice may also cause bruise-like marks on the torso, thighs or upper arms. These may be present even after lice are gone. If pubic lice infect the eyelashes, irritation and crusting around the eyes may be present. Body lice may cause itchy sores in areas where seams from clothing contact the skin.

How to Treat Lice

Various over-the-counter creams, lotions or shampoos may successfully treat lice. Special combs may be helpful in removing lice or nits (eggs of lice). Prescription creams or shampoos may be prescribed in some cases as well. If creams, shampoos and lotions are not effective, an orally taken medication may be prescribed. Patient with lice should bathe regularly and thoroughly, wash their clothing and bed sheets and wear clean clothes every day. The best resource for further information about lice is a healthcare professional. SkinCareGuide.com also offers further information about lice, their symptoms and possible treatments.

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