Any human infestation of parasitic forms of lice is known as pediculosis. It can occur anywhere on the body; the most common kind, pediculosis capitis, feeds on the scalp and, rarely, in the eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard. Pediculosis corporis (body lice) lives next to the skin in clothing seams, leaving only to feed on blood. Pediculosis pubis is found primarily in pubic hairs but also may extend to the eyebrows, eye-lashes, and axillary or body hair.
Pediculosis capitis (head lice) is caused by Pediculus humanus var. capitis. P.humanus var. corporis causes pediculosis corporis (body lice). Phthirus pubis causes pediculosis pubis (crab lice).
Pediculosis capitis is usually due to overcrowded conditions and poor personal hygiene. It commonly affects children, especially girls, spreading through shared clothing, hats, combs, and hairbrushes.
Pediculosis corporis is commonly associated with prolonged wearing of the same clothing (which might occur in cold climates), overcrowding, and poor personal hygiene. It spreads through shared clothing and bedsheets.
Pediculosis pubis is transmitted through sexual intercourse or by contact with clothing, bedsheets, or towels harboring lice.
Wood's light examination achieves fluorescence of the adult lice. Microscopic examination shows nits visible on the hair shaft.
For pediculosis capitis, treatment consists of cream rubbed into the hair and rinsed after 10 minutes. A single treatment should be sufficient. Alternatives include pyrethrins and lindane shampoo. A fine-tooth comb dipped in vinegar removes nits from the hair. Washing hair with ordinary shampoo removes crusts.
Clothes and bed linens must be laundered to prevent reinfestation.
Pediculosis corporis necessitates bathing with soap and water to remove lice from the body. In severe infestations, lindane cream may be necessary.
Treatment for pediculosis pubis includes shampooing with lindane shampoo for 4 minutes, and treatment should be repeated in 1 week. Clothes and bed linens must be laundered to prevent reinfestation.
Never share hair brushes, combs, hair pieces, hats, bedding, towels, or clothing with someone who has head lice.
It is difficult to prevent head lice infestation in children. Community-wide or school-based education programmers informing parents of methods to eradicate lice, and community health teams in schools, are the most effective ways in keeping infestation rates down.
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