Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

The state of being infested with lice.

Lice are tiny but visible insects. They live in hair and survive on human blood. The eggs of lice are called nits. They too are very small but visible. Nits are extremely tiny and white, and they cling to the hair. The female louse attaches her eggs to the hairs near the scalp. The eggs hatch and leave empty nit shells on the hair. As lice mature, they begin laying more eggs. It takes seven to 10 days for lice to mature.

Humans are the only hosts for these lice. They feed on human blood. They do not infest dogs, cats, or other animals or inanimate objects such as furniture, mattresses, bedding or carpets. Head louse infestations occur regardless of age, sex, socioeconomic status or ethnic background. They are most often found in schools and child care settings, where outbreaks are common. In the U.S., African-Americans are less commonly infested than Caucasians.

Mode of transmission:

Direct Transmission: Person-to-person contact is responsible for most louse infestations.

Indirect transmission may include:


  • Hats and Scarves.

  • Combs.

  • Upholstered Furniture.

  • Pillows and Cushions.

  • Towels and Bed Linens.

  • Clothing.

  • Costumes and Masks.

  • Stuffed animals, dolls, cloth-covered toys.

  • Carpeting.


It may take 2 to 3 weeks for a person to notice intense itching associated with pediculosis.

    Tickling feeling of something (lice) moving in the hair.

  • Itching scalp, especially at the hairline and in the nape of the neck.

  • Irritability especially in young children, as they do not know how to express their discomfort.

  • Sores on the head caused by the constant scratching.

  • Presence of nits (eggs) or lice in the hair close to the scalp.


Diagnosis of head lice requires a thorough and careful examination of the hair and scalp.Nits are commonly found on the hairs at the nape of the neck and behind the ears wherethey are protected from extremes of light and temperature, but they can be depositedanywhere on the scalp and the entire head should be examined. Live adult and nymphal liceare difficult to find, as they move quickly and hide well.

The method of examination is not standardized; however, the use of a wooden applicatorstick, tongue blade or combwill prove helpful to some. Gloves may be worn during examinations. Sometimes magnifier glasses may be used to view nits.


Shampoos containing either pyrethrin (Rid, others) or permethrin (Nix) are usually the first option used to combat lice infestations. These work best if you follow the directions very closely. In some geographical locations, lice have grown resistant to the ingredients in over-the-counter lice treatments. If over-the-counter preparations do not work, your doctor can prescribe shampoos or lotions that contain different ingredients.

Disclaimer: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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