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Head and body lice: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About head and body lice

Lice are small, wingless parasites which can afflict the human body including scalp. It is a contagious problem which causes intense itching in the affected individual.

Head and body lice: Incidence, age and sex

Head and body lice is not a very common condition in the general population. However its incidence is high in individuals who live in unhygienic and overcrowded conditions. It may be seen in any age group.

Signs and symptoms of head and body lice: Diagnosis

The clinical features of infection with lice constitute red skin lesions which exhibit extensive itching. Any part of the body may get affected. However shoulder, trunk and buttocks are more frequently affected. Generally, a detailed physical examination is adequate to diagnose the condition. Detection of lice on body or hair is confirmatory.

Causes and prevention of head and body lice

Head lice also called Pediculus humanus capitis affects scalp and body lice also called Pediculus humanus corporis affects the body. They may be easily transmitted from individual to individual through direct contact. The body lice usually live in the folds of clothing and travel to skin to feed upon human blood. Thereafter they return to the clothing. Conditions like poor hygiene and overcrowding increase chances of affliction with lice. Moreover it may also be seen commonly in children among school setting and camps.

Preventive measures like maintaining good hygiene, washing clothes regularly and daily bathing may help in preventing affliction with lice. Moreover, it is important to avoid physical contact with infected individuals and also avoid sharing clothes and hair brushes.

Head and body lice: Complications

Persistent scratching of itchy skin lesions may lead to their secondary bacterial infections. Moreover lice may also cause lethal infections like Trench or Typhus fever.

Head and body lice: Treatment

The treatment of head and body lice includes both medical and non-medical modalities. Medicated shampoos and medicated creams may help in eliminating head and body lice. It is essential to eliminate head lice before moving on to body lice since head lice usually progress to body to infect it. It is advisable to repeat the medicated treatment even after elimination of lice to make sure that the eggs of the lice also get eliminated. Washing infected clothes in hot water is essential to prevent relapse of infection. Antibacterial bacterial medications may be advised if the skin lesions get secondarily infected. Head and body lice cause infection which is contagious but it not serious. Repeated treatment usually results in complete recovery.