Head Lice

  • Medical Author:
    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Head Lice Symptoms

Although itching may be a sign of a lice infestation, most often individuals are asymptomatic. Keep in mind that although the only reliable sign of an infestation is the presence of a live louse or nymph (juvenile louse), the presence of nits may be a sign that there is or has been an active infestation.

Quick GuideHead Lice Treatment, Symptoms and Pictures

Head Lice Treatment, Symptoms and Pictures

Head lice facts

  • Head lice are parasites that are found on human heads. The word lice is plural for louse.
  • Head lice are spread by personal contact or the sharing of combs, brushes, caps, and other clothing.
  • Head lice are a common problem with preschool and schoolchildren.
  • Head lice cause a tickling feeling of something moving in the hair, itching, and sores on the head.
  • The affected individual, family members also infected, and the home all should be treated.
  • Remember: one head louse + one head louse = two head lice = the beginning of a head-lice infection.
  • Very young children should be evaluated by a health-care professional before beginning medications. Continue Reading
Reviewed on 11/5/2015
References
REFERENCES:

American Academy of Pediatrics. "Pediculosis Capitis (Head Lice)." Red Book, 28th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009.

Chosidow, O. "Oral Ivermectin Versus Malathion Lotion for Difficult-to-Treat Head Lice." New England Journal of Medicine 362 Mar. 2010: 896-905.

Devore, C., and G. Schutze. American Academy of Pediatrics. "Head Lice. A Clinical Report: Guidance for the Clinician in Rendering Pediatric Care." Pediatrics 135.5 May 2015: e1355-1365.

Feldmeier, H. "Pediculosis Capitis: New Insights Into Epidemiology, Diagnosis and Treatment." Eur J Clin Microbiolo Infect Dis. Mar. 2012.

Frankowski, Barbara and Joseph A. Bocchini Jr. "Clinical Report: Head Lice, a Policy Update." Pediatrics 126.2 Aug. 2010: 392-403.

Gunning, K., K. Pippitt, B. Kiraly, and M. Sayler. "Pediculosis and scabies: treatment update." American Family Physician 86.6 Sept. 2012: 535-541.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Head Lice." Sept. 24, 2013. <http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/>.

IMAGES:

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4. "Male human head louse" by Gilles San Martin

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6. "Bugbuster" by Thanks for the polite permission of the Community Hygiene Concern, Joanna Ibarra

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