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.

Quick GuideHead Lice Treatment, Symptoms and Pictures

Head Lice Treatment, Symptoms and Pictures

What are head lice?

Head lice are parasites that can be found on the heads of people. Infection with head lice is called pediculosis. (The head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis, is different from the lice that cause body and pubic-hair infections.)

How common is head lice infestation?

Head lice infestation is very common. It has been estimated that up to one in every 10 children in school acquires head lice at some time, and there are estimates that there are well over 6 million infestations per year in the United States alone. Lice have been around since the beginning of humanity. In fact, genetic testing has determined that the human head louse has been a distinct human parasitic organism for over 70,000 years.

Who is at risk for getting head lice?

Anyone who comes in close contact with someone who already has head lice, or even their contaminated clothing and other belongings, is at risk for acquiring head lice. So it is easy to transmit head lice from one person to another. Preschool and elementary-school children (3-10 years of age) and their families are infected most often. Girls contract head lice more often than boys, and women contract more head lice than men. 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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10. Getty Images

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