The problem with lice is that an infection does not necessarily indicate bad personal hygiene. One can be the cleanest person in the world and yet acquire it from other people or clothing. The major problem with lice is that if it is not adequately treated, the infection never goes away.
Signs and symptoms of lice include:
- Intense itching- the itch can be intense and prevent sleep. Excoriations marks are present all over the body. This may be the first sign that something is not right.
- Many a times, lice can be seen on the scalp, body or clothes. They can measure anywhere from 2-4 mm in size
- When the scalp is infected, nits may be seen on the hair shafts. These tiny eggs hatch and release more lice. They are often mistaken for dandruff but unlike dandruff do not readily fall off when the hair is combed
- Excoriations (Scratch marks) and small red bumps may be seen on the body.
Lice have no wings and thus are acquired by direct contact in several ways.
Close body contact: This is a common form of acquiring lice. Children acquire it with head to head contact and adults typically acquire it from body to body contact
Close proximity of stored belongings: Lice can be acquired from clothing. The lice can be transferred from clothing, books, pillows, blankets and even combs. This is a common way of transfer of lice at home and in community groups.
Sharing items: Sharing personal items like towels, clothes, blankets, gloves, scarves and hats can lead to transfer of the lice
Contact with contaminated furniture: A common method of lice transfer is from using common beds and sitting on contaminated furniture. Lice generally die very rapidly in the environment and thus it is rare to acquire them from toilet seats. Furniture is a common place to acquire lice. Lice can live outside the body on inanimate objects for 48 hours
Sexual contact: Pubic lice are typically acquired from sexual encounter. The body and hair lice can also be acquired during close sexual contact