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Head lice: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About head lice

Head lice are small, wingless and blood-sucking parasites which afflicts the human scalp. It is a contagious disorder which causes intense itching in the affected individuals.

Head lice: Incidence, age and sex

The occurrence of head lice is a common occurrence in young girls with long hair. However it may affect a person of any age and gender.

Signs and symptoms of head lice: Diagnosis

Head lice as the name implies, most commonly affects the scalp. However, other hairy areas like eyebrows, eyelashes, beard and moustache may also be involved. The affected individual experiences intense itching especially at the back of head and behind ears. Generally history and a detailed physical examination which shows scalp excoriations, are adequate to diagnose the condition. Detection of living lice on the scalp may become evident by combing of wet hair with thin comb. Nits which are tiny, grey coloured eggs can be seen attached to the base of hair shaft.

Causes and prevention of head lice

Head lice, also called Pediculus humanus capitis affect the hair and scalp. They can easily be transmitted from individual to individual, through direct contact. Thus, they are more common in individuals who are in close settings as in classrooms, camps and day-care centres. They may be easily spread by sharing hair brushes and combs.

Head lice: Complications

Head lice usually do not lead to any complications apart from the fact that their affliction may cause immense distress and social embarrassment. Moreover, in rare cases, head lice may give rise to body lice and may affect the skin also.

Head lice: Treatment

The treatment of head and body lice includes application of medicated shampoos and creams which help in eliminating head lice. Medicated shampoos like Lindane 1% are recommended for repeated use to effectively eradicate head lice and their eggs. Medicated creams like Malathion 0.5% and Permethrin may also be prescribed in resistant cases. Both these creams need to be applied to dry hair for sometime and followed by washing and rinsing the hair thereafter. Subsequently, combing wet hair with a thin comb may remove the lice. It is advisable to repeat the medicated treatment even after elimination of lice to make sure that the eggs of lice also get eliminated.