What's Bugging You: Lice

Lice

How to deal with lice

See a doctor. Laundry, nit combs, and insecticidal shampoos should be used together to battle these bugs. Wash bedding, clothes, and hair accessories—the hotter the better. Combing should be done carefully—you should see the nits come off onto the comb. Insecticidal shampoos will be the crux of your solution, but read the label carefully. Follow the label—you’re putting pesticides on your head. Since most products don’t kill the nits, a repeat wash will need to be done in 10 days—after the eggs have hatched.

Body louse.
Body louse. Photo by James L. Castner, UFL
Head/body (they look the same) vs crab lice.
Head/body louse (they look the same) vs crab louse. From UFL School IPM
Nits.
Nits. From UFL School IPM

What they look like

The lice we’re talking about here are ones that might be on you—head, body, or pubic lice. All are flat with feet made for gripping hair. Usually it’s the eggs you spot. Look for tiny tan eggs—nits—glued to the base of hairs (head and pubic lice) or in fabric seams where they touch the skin (body lice).

Where they live

Unfortunately, on people. They don’t live long without being able to suck blood. Although they can survive a few days away from their host—allowing for travel on hats, combs, or hair bands—they lay their eggs and prefer to hang out on us.

What they do

The main problem with lice is that they make us itch. Lice on people aren’t the same as the lice on other animals, so no need to treat Lassie if you find them on yourself.