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Today in Health & Wellness

Head Lice

Risk Factors
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
Doctors to Consult

Common name

Kuto (Fil.)

Lice are wingless parasites that feed on human blood by piercing through the skin. Lice cause pruritus or severe itching and are most commonly spread through person-to-person contact or by sharing clothing, beddings, and other personal items. It occurs more commonly in crowded and underdeveloped areas, those with poor hygiene, and in school children.

Lice infestation or pediculosis is a skin infestation by either head lice (Pediculosis humanuscapitis), body lice (Pediculosis humanuscorporis), and pubic lice or crabs (Phtirus pubis). Head lice spread by sharing combs, brushes, hats and through close contact; body lice by crowded living quarters, and shared clothing and bedding; and pubic lice typically spread during sexual contact. Body lice may present a serious problem since these are able to transmit diseases such as trench fever, relapsing fever, and typhus.

  • Intense itching of the scalp
  • Breaks in skin caused by scratching
  • Scalp irritation
  • Gray-white nits on hair shaft
  • Scratch lines
  • In severe cases, tangled, lusterless hair
Risk Factors
  • Gender. More common in girls than boys
  • Age. 5-11 year-olds are more commonly infested by head lice and 14-40 year-olds for pubic lice.
  • Race. More common in Asians and Caucasians.
  • Climate. Head lice occur more frequently during warm months while pubic lice occur more frequently during cooler months.
  • Poor hygiene.
  • Sharing personal items and clothing.
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
  • Permethrin containing over-the-counter shampoos, creams, lotions containing permethrin.
  • Malation lotion
  • Ivermectin 
  • Pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide containing shampoos.
Treatment and Management
  • Remove by hand or use a fine-tooth comb to locate (and remove) lice while combing through wet hair (Wet Combing). Before starting, apply a small amount of conditioner or oil to wet hair. Spay special attention to areas at the back of the head and ears. Do this every 3-4 days for 2 weeks until no lice have been detected for 3 combing sessions.
  • Do not share combs, brushes, and other hair accessories such as hats and clips.
  • Wash combs, brushes, hats and other hair accessories; pillow cases, blankets, sheets and towels in hot water. Vacuum when needed.
  • If acceptable, shave hair to easily and effectively remove lice.
  • Avoid contact with people infested with lice.
  • Change beddings regularly.
  • When taking a bath, wash hair and apply shampoo regularly.
  • Use clean towel in wiping hair and body.
  • Use clean comb in combing the hair to remove the nits.
  • Freezing infested inanimate objects may also kill head lice and their eggs.
  • Lice infestations may be treated using shampoos, lotions or creams containing permethrin, pyrethrin, or malathion but do not use these to prevent infestations.
  • If one member of the family is infested, each member of the family should be examined to prevent spreading and re-infestation of lice.
  • Decontaminate infested clothing or linens by thorough laundering or dry cleaning
Home Remedies
Doctors to Consult
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