Types of lice

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Lice are blood-sucking insects that parasitize humans and animals. They are species-specific parasites that feed on the blood of a specific animal species. For example, human lice do not infect dogs and cats, but feed exclusively on human blood.

Types of lice

There are three types of lice in humans which include head lice, body lice and pubic lice. They differ in habitat and appearance. The appearance of each species is associated with their specific habitat. Head lice and body lice are usually larger than pubic lice, and pubic lice have stronger and longer legs because they have to move through hair that has a triangular cross-section rather than a round one.

It has been scientifically proven that lice that pose a threat to humans can be classified as pubic and human lice. They differ in external characteristics and habitat; both feed on blood and are not adapted to other living conditions.

Some believe that the types of lice in humans can be divided into three classes: head, body and pubic. In fact, they are all morphotypes. By placing them in one place, insects live peacefully with each other and even begin to reproduce. Thus, these are different subspecies, adapted to different habitats, which practically do not overlap on the human body. At the moment they cannot be clearly separated into separate types.

head lice

Lice, also known as head lice, are parasites that live on the scalp. Characteristic signs of this type of lice:

— The size of an adult is from 2 to 4 mm.
— Color – gray-yellow, body translucent.
— The insect has three pairs of legs, with which they tightly grasp the hair.

head lice

Head lice can live for about a month and females are capable of laying 5 – 7 eggs per day. Lice eggs, known as nits, are firmly attached to the hair at the very base and appear as translucent round capsules. It is impossible to distinguish an empty egg from a nit with the naked eye.

The head louse is the most common parasite on the human body. It occurs equally often in people living in normal sanitary conditions and in those who do not follow these conditions. Parasites are transmitted in a variety of ways, including close contact with an infected person, sharing combs, hats, accessories, and through bedding and pool water.

Although head lice themselves do not carry dangerous diseases, they can cause severe itching and micro-wounds on the skin, which in turn can lead to infection and the development of skin diseases.

body lice

Body lice, also known as linen lice, are characterized by the following characteristics:

- White or gray-yellow body color.
- They live on human clothes and underwear, as well as in their folds.
— Dimensions within 0,5 mm, and the life expectancy of an adult is 1,5 months.

body lice

These parasites live and hide in the folds of clothing and bedding, which is why the fight against this type of lice can be difficult and lengthy.

Body lice have a translucent body measuring 3–5 mm, off-white in color, darkening when saturated with blood. Bites most often appear on the upper body, such as the neck, shoulders, back and lower back.

Infection with body lice occurs less frequently than with head lice, and is often associated with an asocial lifestyle, poor hygiene and infrequent changes of clothing and bedding.

Body lice can be transmitted by trying on clothes, wearing clothes of a sick person, sleeping in a lice-infested bed, and in crowded places with close contact with a carrier. They can also carry dangerous diseases such as typhus.

Pubic lice

Pubic lice are the smallest parasites, their size barely reaches 2 mm, their body color is transparent brown. In their habitat, they are practically invisible, merge with the general structure of the hair, have reduced eyes and crawl along the surface.

They live on the hair in the groin area, less often in the armpits. Pubic lice are only 1,5 mm in size, have a light brown body, a flat shape and legs that can move along hairs with a triangular cross-section.

pubic lice

The peculiarity of pubic lice is that they lay eggs at temperatures from 20 to 40 degrees, and their life cycle is about a month. They can also carry various sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea.

You can become infected with pubic lice through sexual intercourse with a carrier, close contact, wearing clothes of a sick person, as well as in public places such as swimming pools, baths and saunas.

What other types of lice are there?

As already mentioned, each type of lice is adapted to its owner. For example, lice eaters live on dogs and cats, differing in that they feed on dead skin flakes and animal hair, unlike human lice, which feed on blood. Signs of lice infestation in animals are similar to lice in humans and also include severe itching. However, lice eaters do not spread from pets to humans.

In addition to dogs and cats, lice can live on other animals such as mice, rats, sheep, horses, pigs and others. They have a similar structure, differing only in size. For example, porcine hematopins are the largest lice and reach 5 mm in length, while hoplopleura, which infect hamsters, are no more than 1 mm in size. They can also vary in color, although they are usually brownish-gray and darken to black when saturated with blood.

All types of lice have a similar structure of nits - capsules in which the larvae develop. They have a round and translucent shape and are firmly attached to the base of the hairs with an adhesive substance.

Lice on animals

Lice, despite popular myths, can attack not only people, but also our pets. They differ in size and body shape depending on the species.

The hare louse prefers to parasitize some species of hares and rabbits, covering the entire body of the animal with many hairs.

The pig louse, one of the largest of its kind, reaches a length of up to 5 mm and lives on wild game and domestic pigs, most often located on the folds of the abdomen, neck and legs, and sometimes behind the ears.

The dog louse got its name because of its external resemblance to human parasites, although it originally belongs to the order of lice-eaters. It feeds not only on blood, but also on skin secretions and skin particles.

The elephant louse is another large individual that lives on the folds of the elephant's skin and is held on to its hairless host by the proboscis widened at the end.

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