Diseases & Conditions
What are lice?
Lice are tiny insects that can infest the skin anywhere on the body. Lice infection is characterized by intense itching.
Lice are highly contagious, spreading from person to person by close body contact, shared clothes, and other items (such as hats, hairbrushes, and combs). There are three types of human lice:
Facts about lice
Head lice are seen mostly in child care settings and among school-aged children.
The child usually has itching in the head area.
Lice, or the eggs (called nits), can usually be seen on the hair, behind the ears, and on the neck.
Body lice are usually seen in people with poor hygiene.
Body lice are rare in children.
Body lice cause severe itching, which is often worse at night.
With body lice, in some cases lice and eggs can be found in the seams of clothing.
Pubic lice are very contagious and can be transmitted through sexual contact or by contaminated items such as towels and clothes.
Pubic lice can affect the pubic hair, but can also cause infections of the hair on the chest, abdomen, thighs, and eyebrows.
Itching of the affected area is a common symptom of pubic lice.
How are lice diagnosed?
The eggs laid by lice are usually visible to the naked eye, making it easy for your child's physician to diagnose. Pubic lice leave small brown spots on the parts of clothing that come in contact with the genitals or anus.
Treatment for lice
Specific treatment for lice will be determined by your child's physician based on:
Your child's age, overall health, and medical history
Extent of the infestation
Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
Expectations for the course of the infestation
Your opinion or preference
Lice are treatable. Treatment may include: