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About subcutaneous lice in humans: myths and reality

Существуют ли подкожные вши на самом деле или это всего лишь миф? Давайте разбираться...

Subcutaneous lice in humans are a widespread myth. The same as lice, appearing from nerves, or whole tumors, completely inhabited inside with lice. Usually they say that under the skin live lice, trying to explain or describe scabies - a common disease caused by a completely different, different from lice parasite.

Nevertheless, the myth of subcutaneous lice in humans has gained wide popularity for several reasons:

  • Lice are really very small, and even in their normal life situation they are barely noticeable. Many believe that if they are not visible on the head itself, just as invisible lice and under the skin.
  • Symptoms of diseases, the responsibility for which in the people is shifted to subcutaneous lice in humans, are very similar to typical pediculosis - the same itch, the same migrating irritations. And once having seen such symptoms on head lice, it's easy to blame them for scabies.
  • The causative agent of scabies is indistinguishable without a microscope. Of course, the popular rumor should at least somehow describe what a person can not see. For this, the subcutaneous louse was invented.

Возбудителя чесотки - чесоточного клеща - нельзя разглядеть без микроскопа

Today, science has already described both scabies and the lifestyle of its pathogens and lice themselves. Therefore, in order to reliably navigate the causes and differences of these parasitic infections, one should know their pathogens well.


"I had subcutaneous lice this summer after a trip to the village. A terrible thing. On the skin there are small bumps, under which the louse can be seen in the sun, and itches terribly. Scraping them is impossible, you can pick it up with a needle and pull it out. The itching to the night is very aggravated, it can not be felt during the day. In the hospital he was prescribed Permetrin ointment and forced to lie down in the ward for five days. They said it was very contagious. "

Julia, Ogonevka

A bit about lice and their biology

All lice are the outer parasites of man. They are not able to penetrate the body or under the skin, but are very well adapted to being held on the hair due to the special structure of their legs. The photo shows a head louse under a microscope - its hook-shaped legs are clearly distinguishable:

За счет крючков на лапках головная вошь прочно удерживается на волосах

Lice under the skin are almost never found, and even in exceptional cases, getting into the wound is selected from it.

By this inability to live inside the human body, lice resemble other ectoparasites - bugs, ticks, fleas. However, from all lice are different in that they have perfectly adapted to the constant presence on the surface of the human body - here they eat, they rest here, here lay eggs-nits that stick to the hair.

На фото - гниды головной и лобковой вши

On a note

The existing louse (underwear) is an evolutionary head shape, adapted to live on clothes and from time to time creep onto the human body and bite it. These lice also can not live under the skin, but among other parasites occupy a special position - they, like, and do not live on the human body, but are constantly present in the immediate vicinity of it.

Larvae of lice, tiny copies of adults, also live only on the surface of the skin of the host and never penetrate it. Therefore, the question whether there are subcutaneous lice, you can definitely answer - no, there are.

Who lives under the skin: in detail about the pathogen of scabies

So what are the notorious subcutaneous lice?

Under this popular name lies another parasite - itchy itch, or itch mite. To lice, he has practically no relation, his relatives are encephalitis mites and spiders.

In the photo below, an itch mite is seen under a microscope - it has 8 lugs visible (there are only 6 lice in human lice):

Фото чесоточного клеща под микроскопом: у него 8 лапок (а у вшей всего 6)

Subcutaneous lice in humans of these mites were named for the similarity of the symptoms of infection with them with symptoms of infection with lice - severe itching, noticeable blisters from bites and the invisibility of the parasites themselves.

Чесоточный клещ вызывает такой же сильный зуд кожи, что и вши

Itching itch itself itching produces with constant skin digestion and bites for the purpose of sucking blood. Female tick as it moves under the skin constantly lays eggs, from which come out new larvae, continuing to do the same.

Самка клеща и ее яйца в толще кожи


I was told that one grandfather had a bump on his forehead, and many years. And when it was cut, it was full of lice!

Irina, Moscow

Typically, an infected person has 1 to 15 ticks on the body. Already this number causes so severe itching and discomfort that a person is forced to contact health care institutions.

In special cases - among the tramps, for example, - under the skin can live several million ticks , which, in addition to itching, can lead to tissue necrosis and the development of especially severe forms of scabies - Norwegian scabies, nodular scabies, dermatitis and pyoderma.

In the photo - the appearance of a man's hand with Norwegian scabies:

Фото рук человека с норвежской чесоткой

Рука человека с признаками норвежской чесотки

Without the microscope of the itch mite, it is impossible to consider, but in the place of its presence under the skin a small dark dot is visible (see photo):

В местах нахождения чесоточного клеща под кожей видны темные уплотнения

Thus, it can be said that the so-called lice in the people under the skin are scabies that can irritate, outwardly similar to pediculosis.

How to distinguish infection from "subcutaneous lice" from pediculosis?

Some symptoms of infection with "subcutaneous lice" strongly resemble the symptoms of a disease caused by dermal lice. However, there are clear differences in these diseases:

  • "Subcutaneous lice" on the head do not occur. Only in exceptional cases in children, an itch mite can affect the upper back of the neck and chin. Most often the mite affects the interdigital space, the genitals in men, axillary cavities, stomach, sides, buttocks, elbows. Unlike scabies mites, lice most often parasitize on the head or pubic area.
  • "Subcutaneous lice" do not leave characteristic traces from bites. If there are such traces, you should suspect ordinary lice. The first symptom of scabies is a rash. In the photo below - a characteristic rash with scabies.
  • For scabies is characterized by the presence of tick movements under the skin, which can be seen by examining the places of itching or finger-probing.

Сыпь на коже рук при чесотке

However, always with the appearance of any characteristic symptoms it is necessary first of all to see a doctor - only he will be able to diagnose the parasite with maximum reliability.

The reasons for the appearance of the myth and what is hidden behind it

The myth of the existence of subcutaneous lice appeared, most likely, when the people suffering from lice tried to explain the causes of scabies. Even in the Renaissance in Italy, there was a hypothesis that scabies are caused by some microorganisms, but doctors could not find them. Given the similarity of the disease to pediculosis, it is easy to assume that scabies were caused by the same pathogens, only invisible, living under the skin.

In the future, these theories and myths have been widely developed: the people's physicians often frighten their patients with stories of how people get huge cones on their bodies, which when opened are turned into lice full of lice, about the spontaneous generation of lice under the skin from the mud, that lice are constantly present under the skin of the head, but dozing, but are activated only from stresses and the nervous nerves of the host. And people believe.


You know, let them say that lice are transmitted only from person to person, but I will only say that when I broke up with my boyfriend, I was in great stress, I did not leave the house for more than a month. And notice, I did not contact any of the strangers. But my lice appeared, of course, at first I could not understand when I saw this muck on my head, but I looked more closely and saw whitish points, and none of the others in the family had them, they were just mine. And fortunately they were few, so I quickly got them out. This is how I made sure that lice are not just from dirt and everything else, but from stress!

Fortunately, today all these conjectures are dispelled, but at the same time, sensible doctors know how to quickly and easily get rid of lice and scabies. Therefore, if some dim-witted physician begins to tell you something about the existence of subcutaneous lice in the human body, it is worth running. It is desirable - in the direction of the nearest good dermatological office.

To the record "On subcutaneous lice in humans: myths and reality" left 8 comments.
  1. Anonymous :

    The crest of Nit Free works well with lice and nits! Super remedy.

  2. Anonymous :

    Yes, I agree. And MediFox is very helpful.

  3. Anatoly :

    At daughter already more half a year constantly there are lice, in any way we can not deduce them, prompt.

  4. Natasha :

    I read that lice under the skin can not live, they can only get infected. Do not really believe it. I had a personal experience. When I was in first grade, I fell ill - my throat, cough, very high fever. I was at home for a week, I only contacted my father and mother. On the first day after the illness, my mother, braiding my hair, discovered a louse. No one else in the family had them. I think that they all the same are under the skin in a dormant state, and with illness or stress can go "up".

    • Uncle Misha :

      Natasha, can not live under the skin. I will not go into the subtleties, but they do not allow their structural and vital features. You took the louse from your friends at school. It happens that you do not immediately notice it. Here was my case: my uncle liked to drink wine, and came to visit him the same alcoholic. The sheepskin coat was on it, as if he had not taken it off for 10 years. I suspect that he lice it up. And when a person gets drunk, he does not follow. I was a student then, and lived with my uncle. But I decided to go to the hostel. He underwent examination, including a dermatologist (!), And on the first day in the hostel, undressing, found a louse on his clothes. I got rid of my laundry and washed myself. Uncle also forced to conduct hygienic measures. That is, the doctor did not pay attention! So do not think that lice are constantly drowsy. We pick them up from someone.

  5. Diana, 12 years old :

    Do not be surprised that I'm 12 years old and I'm such a smart girl. I know that children often have such that they become infected with lice when they get sick. Causes: 1) high body temperature, because of which the child constantly sweats. 2) When children get sick, they can not wash themselves, and so dirt is one of the reasons.

    Well, if you need more reasons, I can write. By the way, when I grow up, I'll go to the doctor.

  6. Larissa :

    Our house burnt down, and after 4 days I had insects on my head. Their lice can not be called, I know how lice look. It was a black dot and a lot of legs, they did not bite, but crawled over the face, ears, neck - it was horrible, tk. I was at work. This was in 1974. Literally two days ago I again felt that something was crawling on my forehead, I started to comb out. These insects did not look like those, but they look like a spider with a pouch on the back, they could be viewed through a magnifying glass. On your page this insect is.

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