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Pediculosis, head lice

What is it?

Head lice is a parasitic disease, caused by Pediculus humanus var. capitis. The disease mainly affects school-age children and women and is transmitted by direct contact or by use of interpersonal objects such as caps, hats or combs of infected people.

Characteristics and symptoms

The disease presents as main feature the intense itching on the scalp, mainly on the back of the head and which could also reach the neck and upper trunk, where red spots, like mosquito bites, may also be observed. With the scratching of the lesions, it may occur secondary infection by bacteria, leading to the appearance of ganglia in the neck.

Usually the disease is caused by few parasites, making it difficult to find them, but in some cases, particularly in people with poor hygiene, the infestation may occur in large quantities. Common finding are the nits, lice eggs of whitish color, deposited by females on the hair shaft.


The treatment of head lice consists of the application of specific medication to the hair in order to kill the parasites and should be repeated after 7 days. There is also a treatment by oral medication in the form of tablets taken in a single dose. In some cases, best results are obtained with the combination of oral and local treatments.

Nits must be removed, since the drugs do not remove the eggs. To facilitate removal of nits, it may be used a mixture of vinegar and water in equal parts, soaking the hair for half an hour before making the withdrawal.

In children who often appear with lice, it is recommended to keep their hair short and examine the head in search for parasites when they get home from school, which is usually the main source of infestation.

Long-haired girls should go to class with the hair tied. The school must be notified when the child has the disease in order that other parents check their children's head, so that everyone is treated at the same time, thus breaking the cycle of recontamination.

Related articles

- Pubic lice, crabs, pediculosis pubis
- Scabies

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