Head Lice

Also called: Pediculosis

Head lice are parasitic wingless insects. They live on people's heads and feed on their blood. An adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed. The eggs, called nits, are even smaller - about the size of a knot in thread. Lice and nits are found on or near the scalp, most often at the neckline and behind the ears.

Lice spread by close person-to-person contact. It is possible, but not common, to get lice by sharing personal belongings such as hats or hairbrushes. Children ages 3-11 and their families get head lice most often. Personal hygiene has nothing to do with getting head lice. Head lice do not spread disease.

Symptoms are

  • Tickling feeling in the hair
  • Frequent itching
  • Sores from scratching
  • Irritability and difficulty sleeping. Head lice are most active in the dark.

Treatment is recommended for people who have an active infestation of head lice. All household members and other close contacts should be checked and treated if necessary. Some experts also recommend treating anyone who shares a bed with an infested person. It is important to treat everyone at the same time.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Symptoms of Head Lice

The following features are indicative of Head Lice:
  • tickling feeling in the hair
  • frequent itching
  • sores from scratching
  • irritability and difficulty sleeping
It is possible that Head Lice shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Head Lice

The following are the most common causes of Head Lice:
  • head-to-head contact with an infected person
  • sharing bedding or clothing

Risk Factors for Head Lice

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Head Lice:
  • younger people who play or go to school together

Prevention of Head Lice

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Head Lice. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • avoid close contact with infected person
  • hang garments on a separate hook from other children's garments
  • do not share brushes, combs, scarves and hats

Occurrence of Head Lice

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Head Lice cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Head Lice can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Head Lice can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Head Lice

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Head Lice:
  • Examination of wet-hair: To detect head lice
  • Identify nits: To find out nits in the child's hair

Doctor for Diagnosis of Head Lice

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Head Lice:
  • Infectious disease specialist

Complications of Head Lice if untreated

Yes, Head Lice causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Head Lice is left untreated:
  • head lice live for three to four weeks

Self-care for Head Lice

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Head Lice:
  • Do not share brushes, combs, scarves and hats: Prevent from getting head lice
  • Avoid sharing protective headgear for sports and bicycling: Helps in preventing from head lice

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Head Lice

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Head Lice:
  • Apply tea tree oil: It kills lices

Time for Treatment of Head Lice

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Head Lice to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 1 - 4 weeks

Is Head Lice Infectious?

Yes, Head Lice is known to be infectious. It can spread across people via the following means:
  • direct head-to-head contact with an infested person

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Head Lice.

Related Topics

Parasitic Diseases

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