Updated: Nov 19, 2019
Say the word “lice” to most people and they will probably recoil in horror. I know my wife and I did when ̶ many, many years ago ̶ my daughter came home from elementary school with a note telling us that a couple of kids had been found to have head lice.
At the time, neither my wife nor I knew that much about lice, but we went in panic mode nevertheless: fumigating the house, washing all of our clothing and bed linens, vacuuming like people possessed, and scrutinizing our children’s scalps too many times a day.
In retrospect, our reaction wasn’t uncommon, but we got a lot of things wrong. What follows then, is a brief introduction to the “Life and Times of the Louse." And, of course, we'll offer tips on how to get rid of lice for good.
What Are Lice, Anyway?
Contrary to popular belief, there are three types of lice, not one. All of them are parasites, surviving as they do on the blood of their victims; and all of them are found on the human body, on the head, body and pubic region, to be specific.
The Three Types of Lice
Head Lice - This louse, as it sounds, is found in the hair. The official name is pediculus humanus capitis.
Body Lice - The scientific name is pediculus humanus corporis.
Pubic Lice - Also called crab lice, the scientific name is pthirus pubis.
For the purposes of this blog, we’re going to focus on the first two ̶ head lice and body lice. We'll leave the pubic lice for another time.
Again, contrary to popular belief, cats, dogs, and other pets do not carry or transmit lice. It is close, person-to-person contact that accounts for lice infestations. These nasty intruders can neither fly nor hop, so it’s very unlikely that they can make their way into your home from outdoors.