Lice are insects that live on human hair and clothing. They are small but can still be seen with the naked eye. Often they are well camouflaged and reflect the colour of the surroundings, which makes them difficult to see.
The medical term for an infection or infestation with lice is called pediculosis.
There are three types of lice that infest humans.
- Pediculus humanus var. capitis - The head louse
- Pediculus humanus var. humanus - The body louse.
- Phthirus pubis - The pubic louse.
Lice are insects than live on rather than in the body. They are wingless and have six legs on which are attached strong claws, which they use to grasp on tightly to hair shafts or clothing fibres.
Head lice, the most common infestation in humans, are colloquially known as cooties and their eggs are called nits. Pubic lice are smaller than the other two species, and have a short body resembling a crab. Hence the name crabs.