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Head Lice (Pediculosis)

Head Lice (Pediculosis) - What it is

Lice are small, six-legged, wingless insects that may be visible to the naked eye. Three species of lice can infest humans (body lice, head lice and pubic lice). Body lice may spread other diseases.

Head lice are the most common form of lice to affect children, and usually affect those between three and 12 years of age. They are transmitted by close contact or via household items, including clothing and combs, brushes, and hats or other headgear. They may spread within pre-schools, schools, or homes.

Head Lice (Pediculosis) - Symptoms

Patients present with scalp itch and scratch marks on the scalp. On close inspection, the lice may be seen on the hair.

Head Lice (Pediculosis) - How to prevent?

Head Lice (Pediculosis) - Causes and Risk Factors

Poor hygiene and close body contact can lead to faster spread of the scabies mites between family members.

Head Lice (Pediculosis) - Diagnosis

Hair containing the head lice or nits (eggs) may be visualised under the microscope or using a dermatoscope.

Head Lice (Pediculosis) - Treatments

Topical permethrin cream: Safe for use above one month of age. Apply to mildly damp hair, leave on overnight and rinse off in the morning. Repeat treatment 1 week later.

Topical malathion lotion: Safe for use above one year of age. Apply to mildly damp hair, leave on for 24 hours, then rinse off. Treatment is recommended for two consecutive days. Repeat treatment one week later.

All close contacts need to be treated to minimize re-infection.

Play areas and furniture can be vacuumed, and bedding, clothing, and headgear should be machine washed. Items that cannot be washed may be dry-cleaned or placed in sealed plastic bags for two weeks. Hats, combs, brushes, grooming aids, towels, school lockers and hooks, and other items that come into contact with the head or head coverings should not be shared.

Head Lice (Pediculosis) - Preparing for surgery

Head Lice (Pediculosis) - Post-surgery care

Head Lice (Pediculosis) - Other Information

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