Head Lice (Pediculosis)
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What is head lice or pediculosis?
Lice are parasite insects that can live on skin and hair. Pediculosis is an infestation of parasite and it can be of three types
- Head lice: Most common form. Lice infests scalp that is called Pediculosiscapitis (head lice) and it is more common in children.
- Pubic lice: it is also called crab. It lives in pubic hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, armpits, beard or mustache.
- Body lice: Uncommon type. They live on clothes and feed on body.
Pediculosis spread by head to head or skin-to-skin contact or contact with object carrying lice. Lice don’t fly or jump. Lice can lay eggs that are called “nits”. Nits hatch into new lice. Infected person may have both lice and nits.
What is cause of lice or pediculosis?
It is caused by a louse called Pediculushumanus. It has three distinct varities which causes infestation of different sites like head (capitis), body (corporis) and pubic (Phthirus pubis). Head lice are most common type.
How can lice transmit?
- Head lice can transmit through direct contact of head to head or contact of skin with head of infected person.
- Body lice can transmit from skin to skin contact.
- Sharing of personal items comb, hat, towel, beddings may also play role in spread of lice.
- Pubic lice can transmit through sexual contact or intimate contacts.
What are the symptoms of head lice?
In all types of lice infestation pruritus on affected area is most common symptom.
In head lice there can be scratch marks on scalp, neck, area behind the ear and upper back (in female). In severe cases secondary bacterial infection like folliculitis can also occur.
Live louse roaming in scalp or nits stick to hair can also be present.
Body lice can lead to persistent itching, which may lead to post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and thickening of skin. Sometimes marks of fresh bites can also be present.
Pubic lice may have bluish gray spot of size 0.5-1cm on pubic area, thighs, lower abdomen. It is called “maculae ceruleae”. Affected area may also crust, flecks of fecal material and blood stains on clothes.
In pediculosiscilaris (lice infestation of eye lashes) may cause reddish crusting and matting of eyelashes hair. Kids may complain of persistent itching in eyelids.
How do dermatologists diagnose pediculosis?
Head lice diagnosis is made by examination of scalp and hair. Sometimes a wet mount of affected part of hair can be examined under microscope. Doctor may use Woods lamp examination and Dermoscopy to examine skin (scalp and body) and hair.
How to check scalp for lice at home?
- At home, nit comb can be tried from scalp to full lenth of hair atleast twice. Hair can be wet or dry. If wet use hair conditioner for smooth use of comb.
- Nits can be identified by grayish white color and sticked to hair firmly.
- Body lice or pubic lice can also be identified by looking carefully at clothes. Blood stains, nits and crusted flecks can be observed in clothes.
Treatment of pediculosis
There are different methods of treating pediculosis. Creams and lotions, combing and oral pills are available.
Insecticides- Topical insecticide lotions are available and they should be used in proper way to make it effective. At a time only one type of insecticide treatment should be used.
How to use anti-lice lotion at home?
- Avoid using shampoo or hair conditioner before application of insecticide.
- Wet your hair and apply lotion in whole length of hair.
- Most of insecticide contact time – 20 minutes. Malathion – 8-12 hours.
- Rinse or wash your hair.
- Wear clean clothes
- Wash all used clothes and Sun exposure to bedding.
- Nit combing help in preventing recurrence.
Body lice treatment: Insecticide needs to be applying whole body at night and leave for whole night.
Pubic lice treatment: Insecticide will be applied on clean and dry skin and leave for 20 minutes. Nits can be removed manually.
Eyelashes lice treatment: Application of petrolatum jelly and manual removal.
When to re-use anti- lice lotion?
- Second treatment can be done from 7-9 days of first application.
Wet-combing for lice at home: if you want to avoid use of anti lice insecticide lotion then it is a way to remove lice from hair. It is time consuming and need to be repeated multiple times. Comb should be fine-toothed. Combing sessions should take 15-30 minutes. Comb every 3 to 4 days for 2 weeks after you find any large adult lice.
Oral medicines: In severe cases or when topical treatment is not effective then oral medicine can be given by doctor.
How to prevent head lice spread?
- Examine the scalp or body sites regularly.
- At school there are policies to identification and treatment of infected kid.
- Clothing, bedding and towel used before (specially in last 48 hours of treatment) treatment should be washed properly and exposed to sunlight.
- Items, which cannot be washed, should be sealed in plastic bag for 2 weeks.
- Empericle treatment of person who comes in frequent contact.
Are headlicea serious infection?
Are headlice worrying thing?
- It is common and can affect any one.
- Getting headlice is not sign of dirty or sick.
- Easy treatments at home are available. One or two application of medicine will remove lice.
- Once it is removed from affected site, there is no long-term consequence of lice infestation.
- Q.How much time is needed to cure headlicecompletley?
- A. Sometimes only one treatment is sufficient or sometimes second treatment after 7-9 days can be required. Most of the patients can be symptom or lice free in 10-15 days.
- Q.Do my siblings need treatment?
- A. It is better to treat all people who come in contact with infected person frequently to avoid recurrence.
- Q.Why to choose Dr. KothiwalaSkinEva Clinic for Pediculosis (Head Lice) treatment?
- A. Consultation with best dermatologist in Jaipur Dr Sunil Kothiwala, MD (AIIMS)
Woods lamp examination and dermoscopy facility available to detect lice in doubtful cases Accurate diagnosis and to the point medical treatment with detail explanation about use of medicine
For more information on Head Lice or to inquire about other services please contact us on 7726938335.
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Dr. Sunil Kothiwala
Dermatologist, Cosmetologist & Hair Transplant Surgeon
With more than a decade of experience including postgraduation from AIIMS & experience of SMS Hospital make,Dr. Sunil Kothiwala one of best dermatologist & cosmetologist in Jaipur. Renowned for delivering the highest level of quality care for patients in the fields of dermatology and cosmetology.