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Health Condition

Head Lice

About This Condition

Head lice (Pediculosis capitis) is an infestation of the hair and scalp by a mite called Pediculus capitis. Head lice affects mainly children and the mite can either be passed directly by person to person contact, or indirectly when the organism is deposited on shared articles such as clothing, furniture, bed linens, or hairbrushes.1

Symptoms

Itching of the scalp, which can be very intense, is the most common symptom of head lice. There may be small crusts of dried blood around sites where bites have occurred, and combing with a fine-tooth comb may pick up eggs (nits) that have been attached to the hair shaft.2,3

References

1. Freedberg IM, Eisen AZ, Wolff K, et al, eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine (6th Edition). New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003, page 2286.

2. Freedberg IM, Eisen AZ, Wolff K, et al, eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine (6th Edition). New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003, page 2286.

3. De Maeseneer J, Blokland I, Willems S, et al. Wet combing versus traditional scalp inspection to detect head lice in schoolchildren: observational study. BMJ 2000;321:1187-8.

4. Mumcuoglu KY, Magdassi S, Miller J, et al. Repellency of citronella for head lice: double-blind randomized trial of efficacy and safety. Isr Med Assoc J2004;6:756-9.

5. Ajaiyeoba EO, Krebs HC. Antibacterial and antifungal activities of Quassia undulata and Quassia amara extracts in vitro. Afr J Med Med Sci 2003;32:353-6.

6. Gilbert B, Teixeira DF, Carvalho ES, et al. Activities of the Pharmaceutical Technology Institute of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation with medicinal, insecticidal and insect repellent plants. An Acad Bras Cienc 1999;71:265-71.

7. Evans DA, Raj RK. Larvicidal efficacy of Quassin against Culex quinquefasciatus. Indian J Med Res 1991;93:324-7.

8. Jensen O, Nielsen AO, Bjerregaard P. Pediculosis capitis treated with quassia tincture. Acta Derm Venereol 1978;58:557-9.

9. Ninci ME. Prophylaxis and treatment of pediculosis with Quassia amarga. Rev Fac Cien Med Univ Nac Cordoba 1991;49:27-31 [in Spanish].

10. Tiangda CH, Gritsanapan W, Sookvanichsilp N, Limchalearn A. Anti-headlice activity of a preparation of Annona squamosa seed extract. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health 2000;31 Suppl 1:174-7.

11. Meinking TA. Infestations. Curr Probl Dermatol 1999;11:73-120 [review].

12. McCage CM, Ward SM, Paling CA, et al. Development of a paw paw herbal shampoo for the removal of head lice. Phytomedicine 2002;9:743-8.

13. Hoffmann D. The New Holistic Herbal, 3rd ed. Shaftesbury, Dorset, UK: Element, 1990:230.

14. Takano-Lee M, Edman JD, Mullens BA, Clark JM. Home remedies to control head lice: assessment of home remedies to control the human head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis (Anoplura: Pediculidae). J Pediatr Nurs 2004;19:393-8.

15. Freedberg IM, Eisen AZ, Wolff K, et al, eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine (6th Edition). New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003, page 2288.

16. Frydenberg A, Starr M. Head lice. Aust Fam Physician 2003;32:607-11.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.

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