Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Head Lice Overview

What are head lice?
A person with head lice has tiny insects living on the scalp. Lice feed on blood: they must bite the scalp in order to access the blood from the scalp. The bites cause scalp irritation and itching. Lice have a life span of 1 month and reproduce rapidly. Lice eggs are called nits. The insect spreads from person to person by contact with combs, clothes, hats and linens.

What are the symptoms of head lice?
Symptoms of head lice include a scalp rash and scalp itching. Tiny, hard, white eggs may be visible, attached to the hair shafts.

How does the doctor treat head lice?
Treatment for head lice includes washing clothes and bedding in hot water every day. A nit comb helps remove dead eggs from the hair shafts. Additional treatment may include insecticide shampoo or cream, and oral insecticide medications.

Continue to Head Lice Symptoms

Last Updated: Feb 8, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Head Lice References
  1. Hansen RC. Overview: the state of head lice management and control. Am J Manag Care. 2004 Sep;10(9 Suppl):S260-3. [15515629]
  2. Hill N, Moor G, Cameron MM, Butlin A, Preston S, Williamson MS, Bass C. Single blind, randomised, comparative study of the Bug Buster kit and over the counter pediculicide treatments against head lice in the United Kingdom. BMJ. 2005 Aug 13;331(7513):384-7. [16085658]
  3. West DP. Head lice treatment costs and the impact on managed care. Am J Manag Care. 2004 Sep;10(9 Suppl):S277-82. [15515633]
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