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Head Lice, Pubic Lice, Body Lice

Thursday, July 26th 2012. | Disease

Lice Definition

Infections transmitted by lice affect people ever since. There are three species of lice:

  • Head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis
  • Louse, Phthirus pubis
  • Body louse, Pediculus humanus corporis

At our latitudes, head lice are very common, it is not human parasites transmitted by animals.

The lice are part of such insects. They lodge in all hairy areas of the body and feed on the blood of the host. They adapt to the hair color of the host and are therefore very difficult to detect.

The nits (eggs) are about a half inch of the hairline and affixed thereto. The larvae emerge after only one week. The lifespan of a louse is 30 days on average. Children attending schools or kindergartens are particularly at risk (contact possibilities).

Generally, white nits, which are attached to more than 1 cm from the scalp, are no longer contagious, especially if treatment has already been done.

The crabs are smaller than head lice and are housed primarily in the coarse hair (pubic, axilla, chest hair, rasta hair, and possibly in the eyebrows or eyelashes).

Pediculosis (lice contamination) is a notifiable disease, according to law for protection against infections.

Head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis, Louse, Phthirus pubis, Body louse, Pediculus humanus corporis

Lice Causes

Important: Contrary to popular belief, the presence of lice is not necessarily linked to poor hygiene, these insects live in the hair and also hair clean. By cons, the risk of pediculosis is greatly increased for poor hygiene.

Transmission is by close bodily contact (contact with the hair / hair). Lice can also be transmitted indirectly by objects that have been in contact with infected hair (combs, brushes, bedding, hats, toys, clothes, etc..).

Crabs can also be transmitted during sexual intercourse.

Lice Symptoms

Head Lice

After a first contact with head lice, itching and chattouillements to the scalp and skin are felt after four to six weeks. Bites of head lice (approximately every 2-3h) and more precisely the salivary enzymes cause severe itching, causing redness and blisters. The favorite locations are: behind the ears and at the level of the occiput and neck.

In case of pediculosis important hair can stick to each other and eczema can occur. The Scratching constantly allows bacteria to establish themselves, triggering secondary infections. Sometimes there is swelling of lymph nodes. Unlike body lice, head lice are not vectors of infection.


Crabs also cause itching. Small hematomas often form the stitches.

Lice Examinations (diagnosis)

  • History taking into account the patient’s symptoms: the nits are usually well detectable, while lice are less so. It is possible to systematically inspect the hair using a magnifying glass or a nit comb.
  • You can tell the little dots of bites on the scalp.
  • It can also tilt the head forward over a white sheet. When combing the hair, lice can fall.
  • Nit comb: it can detect lice strand by strand hair after washing and applying a balm of care.

Treatment Options

Treatment should be started immediately after the finding of a pediculosis. It is essential to inform individuals and institutions with which the patient was in contact. To prevent spread, people who have been in contact with the affected individual should be monitored and treated, if necessary. In many schools in Switzerland, specifically trained people, dealing with supervision, control and prevention of pediculosis.

Preventive measures and advice on the correct treatment are taught to parents.

Treatment with insecticidal shampoos and lotions (pediculicides)

Insecticidal shampoos or lotions: these products should not be used as a preventive measure because it could eventually result in resistance against the active ingredient. Some countries are already facing this problem of resistance to pediculicides.

Accordance with the instruction manual, pediculicides should be applied several times during the period suggested. It is essential to perform careful checks using a nit comb. In the presence of nits, they should immediately be removed. Eyes, mouth and nose should not come into contact with the pediculicide products because they irritate the mucous membranes.

Moreover, non-insecticide preparations are commercially available. These products are intended to cover and smother the lice. This treatment lasts one week. In case of pediculosis important, it must be repeated after a few weeks.

In cases of infestation with head lice, it may be useful to regularly comb wet hair. By cons, if lice are located on another part of the body, an insecticide treatment is needed.

He should be careful when using products pediculicides in infants and young children. As the product may enter the body, treatment is usually done in hospital.

Hot air against head lice

Exposure to hot air (at least 45 °) for 1 h seems to be an effective, simple and reliable to rid someone of pediculosis. Furthermore, a study published in Pediatrics in November 2007 showed that this method leads to no development of resistance. In this study, a LouseBuster * (device specific blowing a large amount of dry air to kill head lice) was compared with other devices of hot air drying.

Virtually all patients treated with LouseBuster had no lice one week after starting treatment. No adverse effects were noted.

However, other experts caution against the drying apparatus such as hot air hair dryer that may burn the scalp.

What to do yourself?

  • The method “more hair – more lice” is a drastic measure, which is not absolutely necessary.
  • Rinse hair with vinegar water and use a lice comb to remove eggs also.
  • Clothing and bedding should be washed either in a high temperature (over 50 °) be washed with a special product.
  • Toys or clothing that can not be washed should be vacuum packed for an extended period, until the lice are hungry and perish.
  • Treat all family members
  • In case of open wounds, with scales or crusts on the scalp, it is necessary to consult a doctor.

Preventive Measures

When a case of lice is found, it should warn the kindergarten, school and close friends. This is the only way to stem the spread.

In any case, there is no reason to be ashamed, especially since it is usually impossible to know where the lice came from.

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