Head Lice Causes & Treatment
What is Pediculosis or Head Lice?
Head lice (Pediculosis capitis) are a very common, itchy, highly contagious condition that often occurs in nurseries, day care centers, and schools. It is caused by infestation with the human head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis.
What is the life cycle of the head lice(louse)?
Lice are very small insects that feed on human blood. In head lice, the female louse attaches her eggs to the base of hair shafts. The eggs (nits) hatch 8–10 days later. While the adult louse cannot survive more than 2 days off of the human head, a nit can stay alive for up to a month off the body (on clothes, hairbrushes, or carpets, for example). Lice can spread from child to child by close personal contact and by sharing belongings.
Who’s at risk?
Children aged 3–10 are most likely to become infested. Girls are more likely to have head lice than are boys.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The most common locations for head lice infestations include:
- Behind the ears
Moving lice or non-moving nits may be seen on the scalp and hair. Each louse is approximately 1–2 mm long and is white-gray in color. The white nits are smaller (0.5 mm), are firmly attached to the hair shaft, and are usually located very close to the scalp. Small red bumps may be seen on the scalp, neck, and shoulders. Occasionally, the lymph nodes behind the ears or in the neck may be swollen. Head lice infestations are quite itchy.
How can you take care?
- Search for lice and nits on wet hair using a fine-toothed comb.
- Use an over-the-counter medication for head lice exactly as directed. These medicines are insecticides and should not be applied in greater quantity or more frequently than recommended. These medications are not recommended for children younger than 2 years old.
- Wash bed linens, towels, hats, etc, in hot water, and dry them using the hot cycle for at least 20 minutes.
- Vacuum floors and furniture used by the infected child.
- Do not share combs, hair brushes, hats, towels, bedding, clothing, headphones, stuffed toys, or other items with someone who has head lice.
- Treat the immediate contacts of the child also.
- Consult a dermatologist if self-care measures have not successfully killed off (eradicated) the infestation who can recommend:
- Permethrin lotion or shampoo
- Malathion lotion
- Lindane lotion, cream, or shampoo (not used as much anymore due to potential toxicity)
- Ivermectin pills
What will be the cost for the treatment of Head Lice?
The cost for the treatment is dependent upon the type of treatment chosen. Generally, a single consultation with Dr. Rinky Kapoor would cost approximately INR 1000/-. It is very important that, along with the treatment, your child should follow all the preventive measures to get rid of these head lice once and for all.
For more information on Dr. Rinky Kapoor’s work, click on:
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About Dr. Rinky Kapoor
Dr. Rinky Kapoor, Co-founder of The Esthetic Clinic, is one of the best dermatologists in the world & currently practices in Mumbai, India. Dr. Rinky Kapoor is a Consultant Cosmetic Dermatologist, Cosmetologist & Trichologist at S L Raheja Fortis Hospital, Mumbai, India. Dr. Kapoor is trained at the National Skin Centre, Singapore & at Stanford University, USA. A celebrity skin doctor, Dr. Rinky Kapoor has won many honors such as “Best Dermatologist Mumbai”, “Top 10 Cosmetologist India”, etc for her evidence based expert dermatology care, affordable & reliable skin care, hair care & nail care …Read more
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