Lice

Treatment

Head lice, or pediculosis capitis, is caused by the infestation of the hair and scalp by Pediculus humanus capitis (a.k.a. the head louse). These are tiny parasitic insects that infest the human scalp and hair, feeding on small amounts of blood from the scalp. It is not unusual for an entire family unit to be affected by lice, due to the close living quarters. While anyone can get head lice, they are particularly common among schoolchildren due to their close interactions and sharing of personal items. 

Lice spread through direct head-to-head contact and occasionally through shared items like combs, brushes, hats, and hair accessories. Infestations often lead to itching and discomfort as lice bites can cause an allergic reaction. Frequent scratching can lead to secondary infections and skin rash. Detecting lice can be done by closely examining the scalp and hair for lice, eggs (nits), or small white or yellowish particles attached to the hair shafts.

Medications such as over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription-strength shampoos and lotions containing insecticides can help relieve head lice infestations. In addition to treatment, efforts to educate children and parents about lice prevention measures—like avoiding head-to-head contact and not sharing personal items—can significantly reduce the spread of lice.

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Itching on the scalp, neck, and behind the ears

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Small red bumps on the head, neck, and shoulders (caused by scratching)

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Adult lice visible on the scalp or hair, often grayish-white or tan in color

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Lice eggs or nits visible close to the scalp, usually oval and firmly attached to hair strands

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Small white or black particles (lice eggs or feces) on pillows or clothing

It's important to note that some individuals with head lice might not experience an itchy scalp immediately, so regular checks of the head and hair can help identify infestations early. If you suspect head lice infestation, proper treatment and hygiene measures should be taken to eliminate the lice and their eggs.

Lice, specifically head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis), are caused by the infestation of parasitic insects that thrive on the human scalp and hair. These wingless insects feed on blood from the scalp, and their bites can lead to itching and discomfort. Lice are typically transmitted through close personal contact, such as head-to-head contact, as they crawl from one person to another. Sharing personal items like combs, brushes, hats, or towels can also contribute to the spread of lice. Nits are the eggs of lice and are firmly attached to individual hair strands near the scalp. 

Lice infestations are typically diagnosed through visual inspection of the scalp and hair by healthcare professionals or trained personnel. Live lice, as well as their eggs, are visible near the base of the hair shafts, usually close to the scalp. Often, a visual confirmation of lice and nits is all that's needed for for a lice diagnosis to be granted and treatment to be provided. 

The standard treatment for lice typically involves the use of prescription-strength medicated shampoos or lotions containing insecticides or other active ingredients. These products are specifically designed to kill adult lice and, in most cases, the eggs they lay. Treatment usually involves applying the medication to dry hair and scalp, following the product's instructions carefully, and then thoroughly combing out the dead lice and nits. Additionally, thorough cleaning of personal items, such as bedding, clothing, and combs, is essential to prevent re-infestation. It’s recommended to consult a healthcare professional to avoid future infestations. 

Alongside lice treatment, effective ongoing management involves taking measures to prevent reinfestation and ensuring a comprehensive approach to eliminate lice and their eggs. Here are some tips:

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Isolate all fabrics that may have been infested for at last one year

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Use a fine-toothed comb to remove dead lice 

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Do not share personal items like combs, brushes, hats, or towels

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Inform those within the same residence for prompt treatment if necessary

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Regularly follow up with medical providers

Lice is explicitly spread from one person to another by direct contact or by sharing items that make contact with a person’s hair. Preventing lice infestations involves a combination of personal hygiene practices and environmental measures. Here are some tips for lice prevention:

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Avoid head-to-head contact 

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Don’t share personal items or cloths

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Secure long hair in a bun or ponytail

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Include scalp checks during regular checkups

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Use preventative shampoos and sprays when lice exposure is possible

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Regularly clean towels, clothing, and bedding

Topical pediculicides (such as permethrin cream) - Permethrin is a synthetic chemical that is applied directly to the scalp and hair, left on for a specified time, and then thoroughly rinsed out. 

Oral ivermectin - Ivermectin is an antiparasitic medication that is taken orally and may require a second dose after a week to ensure the complete elimination of the infestation. 

Our board-certified doctors will determine the best prescription-strength OTC lice treatment medication to treat your lice infection. We prescribe medication that is safe to use on children two months or older.

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