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July 28, 2017 | Family Medicine
Also known as pediculus humanus capitis, head lice are parasitic insects found on the head, eyebrows and eyelashes. Lice feed on human blood multiple times per day and live near the scalp.
Lice are not known to spread other diseases, but they can be an annoyance and require prescription treatment to remove. Here’s a look at the types, signs and treatments of head lice.
Head lice come in three forms:
It’s estimated that between 6 and 12 million lice infestations occur in the United States each year among children between ages 3 and 11. The condition is most common among children of these ages, particularly those attending child care programs. Possibly due to claw grasping abilities on hair shafts, head lice infestations are much less common among African-Americans in the United States than among people of other races.
Symptoms of head lice may not always be noticeable, but when they are, they can include:
Head lice are able to crawl, but they are not able to jump or fly. Most transmission is due to direct contact with another person. Indirect transmission is far less likely, but it can take place via:
Household pets do not play a role in spreading head lice.
Treatments for head lice may include:
Some people find success in combatting head lice through various lifestyle changes and home remedies. Preventing lice is difficult among children in child care facilities and schools, but having them practice proper garment storage can help to a degree. For more information or recommendations on treating head lice, speak to your doctor. ]
“Head lice.” The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/home/ovc-20319198
“Parasites – Lice – Head Lice.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/gen_info/faqs.html
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.