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Definition of Pediculosis Capitis

Pediculosis capitis, also known as head lice, are tiny insects that are found on the human scalp. This problem mainly affects children.

Causes of Pediculosis Capitis

Pediculosis capitis or head lice can easily be caused by active infestation from another person with head lice. The children are mainly affected as they can come in contact while playing or at school. Pediculosis capitis may also be caused by indirect infestation through:

  • Brushes and combs
  • Hats and scarves
  • Hair accessories
  • Pillows
  • Headphones
  • Upholstery
  • Towels

Symptoms of Pediculosis Capitis

The symptoms of lice infestation are not visible in the first two to six weeks, but some of the common signs and symptoms are:

  • Continuous itching in the scalp, neck and ears.
  • Visibility of lice on the scalp.
  • Lice eggs on hair shafts.

The lice can only be spotted around the ears or near the hairline of the neck. Medical care should be taken immediately if suspected of the above symptoms.

Diagnosis of Pediculosis Capitis

The best way to diagnose an active infestation is by identifying a live nymph or an adult louse. The doctor normally recommends examining the lice in wet hair. On carefully combing the hair using a fine-toothed comb, the lice can be seen. The combing process will be repeated several times until all the lice are removed.

Treatments of Pediculosis Capitis

The doctors usually recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) treatment that is helpful in removing the lice from the scalp. OTC treatment is based on pyrethrin, which is toxic to lice. The doctors will recommend washing the hair with shampoo before taking these treatments.

In some cases, if OTC treatments are not successful, the doctors may also recommend, one of the following:

  • Benzyl alcohol treatment for children above 6 months of age
  • Malathion, a medicated shampoo for children above 6 years of age
  • Lindane shampoo treatment
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