Lice are tiny parasitic insects that can be found on people's heads and bodies. Human lice survive by feeding on people's blood. The three types of lice that live on people are:

  • Head Lice, Pediculus humanus capitis, can be found on the head, eyebrows, and eyelashes of people. They feed on human blood several times a day and live close to the scalp. Head lice are not known to spread disease. Learn more about this type of lice and how to treat an infestation, Head Lice, CDC.
  • Body Lice, Pediculus humanus corporis, live on clothing and bedding used by infested persons. They frequently lay their eggs on or near the seams of clothing. Body lice must feed on blood and only move to the skin to feed. Only body lice are known to spread disease. Learn more at Body Lice, CDC.
  • Pubic "Crab" Lice, Pthirus pubis, are found attached to hair primarily in the pubic or genital area of people. Sometimes they can be found on coarse hair elsewhere on the body, such eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, mustache, chest, and armpits. For more information, see Pubic Lice, CDC.

Lice infestations are spread most commonly by close person-to-person contact. Dogs, cats, and other pets do not play a role in the transmission of human lice. Lice move by crawling. Lice cannot hop or fly. Both over-the-counter and prescription medications are available for treatment of lice infestations.


Head Lice, Spokane Regional Health District

Tennessee Head Lice Manual, 2022 (PDF)

Infectious Disease Control Guide for School Staff, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, 2014 (PDF)