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Dry Stone Walling Group

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Owen Watson
Owen Watson


Lice and bed bugs are both biting infestations, so they're often confused. Lice treatment and bed bug treatment differ significantly, so it's important to know if you have head lice vs bed bugs. But how do you tell the difference between lice and bed bugs?


Bed bugs are tiny, brown, wingless insects that bite humans at night, leaving many itchy bug bites in strings all over the body. Bed bugs hide in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, couches, and even wood furniture and wood floors during the day. They're transmitted through clothing, luggage, and used furniture. Signs of bed bugs, aside from bites, include dark brown blood stains on bedding, upholstery, or furniture.

There are 3 species of lice that act as human parasitic insects: head lice, body lice, and pubic lice. At LiceDoctors, we only treat head lice, so for the purposes of this article, assume that we are talking about head lice only.

Head lice are parasitic insects that live their entire lifecycle in human head hair. They're transmitted from direct contact. Their itchy bites will be limited to very near the scalp. By the time itching starts, nits should be visible to the naked eye on the head hair.

But most notably, when you compare pictures of lice and bed bugs, baby bed bugs almost look like adult lice, in that they're translucent (so almost the same color) and tiny. Because adult lice look a lot like baby bed bugs, the best way to tell the difference between bedbugs and lice is to analyze their location and other symptoms, like nits.

The average person imagining bed bugs vs lice pictures small, wingless, brownish, blood-sucking insects that bother humans. So it makes sense to wonder if the head louse is related to the bed bug? While the infestations may seem similar, the bugs themselves have little in common phylogenetically.

Head lice are of the order Phthiraptera, like all other lice, including the body louse and pubic louse. In some ways, it's harder to tell the difference between body lice vs bed bugs in the home. This is because body lice, unlike head lice, live mostly on belongings. Also, since both bite the body, body lice bites vs. bed bug bites are more challenging to differentiate.

There's a definite gross-out factor to finding out that you have bugs literally living in your hair! But when thinking about it rationally, most people agree that bed bugs are significantly worse than head lice:

It's important to know the difference between a bed bug vs lice, since treatment is very different. Unlike bed bugs, an exterminator can't eliminate lice. LiceDoctors is the expert at getting rid of head lice. Our treatment is safe, effective, and guaranteed to get eliminate lice. Call LiceDoctors to book an appointment today, at 800-224-2537.

Recent findings: Standard superficial skin biopsy for scabies and the vacuum method for head lice can increase diagnostic accuracy and efficiency. There is growing resistance to some of the traditional treatments for scabies and head lice, and progress has been made in finding newer and potentially more effective treatments, such as oral moxidectin for scabies and abametapir for head lice. Recent studies have established the safety of traditional treatments, such as permethrin and oral ivermectin in infants and small children.

Summary: Permethrin and ivermectin are both considered safe and effective for children and adolescents with scabies. Permethrin is generally considered safe in infants less than two months of age. Proper application of permethrin is critical, and providers should emphasize proper application technique. Treatment of head lice should only be initiated with active infestations. Resistance to permethrin continues to increase and other options are now available, including an over-the-counter topical ivermectin formulation. Identification and eradication of bed bug infestations are crucial in preventing bedbug bites.

There are multiple resources available regarding head lice and the various treatment options available. Some effective treatments consist of combing the hair with a metal lice comb and keeping the hair style shorter verses a long style or treating with an over the counter lice shampoo combined with an effective comb to remove any nits.

The Federal Trade Commission filed deceptive advertising charges against two marketers of remedies for bed bug infestations, who allegedly failed to back up overhyped claims that they could prevent and eliminate infestations using natural ingredients, such as cinnamon and cedar oil. One marketer also allegedly made misleading claims that its products were effective against head lice.

The Cedarcide Industries, Inc. defendants market BEST Yet!, a line of cedar-oil-based liquid products they claim will treat and prevent bed bug and head lice infestations. The defendants sell the product to consumers nationwide. They also sell it to hotels and other commercial establishments for treating bed bugs, and to school districts for treating head lice. Consumers can buy the product online, by phone, at the Cedarcide website , and at The cost of the products ranges from $29.95 for the quart-sized spray bottle to $3,394.95 for a hotel-motel bed bug eradication kit.

Lice (head, body, or pubic lice) do not spread diseases, and are not usually spread by contact with clothing (such as hats, scarves, coats) or other personal items (such as combs, brushes, or towels). The diagnosis of a head lice infestation is best made by finding a live adult louse on the scalp or hair of a person. Because adult lice are very small, move quickly, and avoid light, they can be difficult to find. Using a magnifying lens and a fine-toothed comb may be helpful to find live lice.

Treatment for lice requires an over-the-counter medication, cream, or prescription medicated shampoo. All household members and other close contacts of the person who has a lice infestation should also be checked. All infested persons and their bedmates should be treated at the same time. Recently, researchers have found a strain of mutant lice in 25 states that is resistant to over-the-counter treatments.

Bed bugs are small, reddish brown, flattened, wingless insects that feed solely on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded animals, usually at night. Bed bugs do not transmit disease, but their saliva causes intense itching. Bed bugs form nests in cracks, furniture seams, bed frames, and mattresses and can survive for several months without feeding. They can hide within crevices and other small spaces such as headboards, baseboards, mattress seams, and areas of clutter. People with bedbugs will often see small drops of blood on bed sheets or pillows; this is caused by engorged bed bugs that were crushed. Bed bug infestations also emit an odor.

Freeborn County Public Health can help answer questions about head lice, determine that you or your child actually has head lice or nits and offer supplies to treat head lice for those that are not able to afford supplies. Please call to schedule an appointment.

The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) is considered a public health pest, but bedbugs do not transmit or spread disease. bedbugs are small, brown, oval-shaped insects that feed on blood, and their bites cause itching and irritation in humans. Bedbugs do not spread disease.

Lice are parasitic insects that feed on human blood can be found on people's bodies. Lice found on different areas of the body differ from each other. There are three types of lice that live on humans:

How to treat pubic lice infestations: (Warning: See special instructions for treatment of lice and nits on eyebrows or eyelashes. The lice medications described in this section should not be used near the eyes.)

Nymphs look like adult head lice but are smaller. A fully-grown adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed, tan to grayish-white in color, and has six legs. Adult hair lice may appear darker in people with darker hair.

Natural home remedies to treat bed bug and lice bites are aimed at relieving itching but they do not get rid of the infestation. The infestation needs to be treated. If you have bedbug or lice bites and have excessive scratching it can lead to sores and infections. Consult a dermatologist if you suspect you have bed bug or lice bites.

The American Academy of Dermatology suggests that lice transfer happens most often from head to head contact. Remind children to never touch their head against another child; this may mean no hugging!

Lice do not fly or jump. They are spread by person-to-person contact or by sharing clothes and personal items. For example, you can get pubic lice by having sex with someone who has it. You can get head lice from head-to-head contact with someone with has it. You might also be able to get head lice from sharing items like hats or combs, but this probably doesn't happen as often.

But some people might not have any symptoms at all. They might find out they have lice only by seeing small white nits or live lice in their hair. Sometimes it is easier to see nits, because lice can move quickly and hide from view.

For years, parents have been buying these non-prescription shampoos and cream rinses. Because the active ingredients have remained the same all these years, new generations of head lice have become immune to them. Once lice become immune, the product no longer works. Scientists call this resistance.

If a head lice treatment that you can buy without a prescription fails to work, the CDC recommends that you see a health care provider. Highly effective prescription treatments that you apply to the scalp are available.

Home remedies can also be problematic. You may have heard claims that petroleum jelly, mayonnaise, butter, margarine, or olive oil can suffocate lice. None of these has been found to be effective. What may be happening is that these remedies make the lice less active for a while, which gives people the impression that the lice are dead. 041b061a72


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