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Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Visual Exam for Lice
During a visual exam for
head lice, the hair on the head is parted with the fingers so that the scalp
can be seen. You or the doctor uses a louse comb and looks for tiny live
3 mm (0.12 in.) to
4 mm (0.16 in.) long, or the
size of a sesame seed]. If you are checking your child or someone else for
lice, it may be helpful to use a handheld magnifying glass or have another
person help you. The doctor may use a special light called a Woods lamp in a
darkened room to see the lice better.
Pubic lice may look like yellowish brown or gray
specks or small scabs. They are smaller than head lice [about
1 mm (0.04 in.) to
2 mm (0.08 in.) long] and are
wider than they are long.
Body lice and their eggs may be seen in
the seams of clothing. They are usually not found on the body, although there
may be small, red bumps on the skin where the lice have bitten. The lice look
like large head lice and may be up to
4 mm (0.16 in.) long.
People with itching in areas of the
body that are commonly infested with lice—the scalp, pubic area, or armpits—or
people who have close contact with a person who has lice should do a self-exam
or have someone help them look for lice and eggs.
Seeing lice or their eggs is enough to
diagnose a lice infestation. Treatment is always needed to get rid of the
People who have
pubic lice are strongly encouraged to seek testing for other sexually
Complete the medical test information form (PDF)medical test information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this test.
Current as of:
August 30, 2012
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
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